« PreviousContinue »
This book begina aeout the middle of the third night from the opening ef the poem. The poet describes a kind of mist, which rose, by night, from the lake of Lego, and w» the usoal residence of the souls of the dead, doring the interval between their defease, and the funeral song. The appearance of the ghost of Ficlan above the cave where his body lay- His voice comes to Fingal, on the rock of Corcnul. The king strikes the Shield of Tremnor, which was an infallible sign of his appearing in arms himself. The extraurdinary effect of the sound of the shield. Sul-malla, starting from sleep, awakes Cathmor. Their affect in ir discosrse. She insists with him, to soe for peace; he resol vestu continue the war. He directs her to retire to the neighbouring valley of Lona, which was the resident e of an old druid, until the battle of the next day should be over. He awakes his army with the sound of his shield. The shield described. Funar. the bard, at the desire of Cathmor, relates the first settlement ot the Firbolg in Ireland, under their leader Larthnn. Morning comes. bul-malla retires to the valley oiLona. A lyric song concludes the book.
From the wood-skirted waters of Lego, ascend, at times, grey-bosomed mists, when the gates of the west are closed on the son's eagle-eye. Wide, over Lara's stream, is poored the vapour dark and deep : the moon, like a dim shield, is swimming through its folds. With this, clothe the spirits of old their sodden gestures on the wind, when they stride, from blast to blast, along the dnsky face of the night. Often blended with the gale, to some warrior's grave d they roll the mist, a grey dwelling to his ghost, until the songs arise.
A sound came from the desart! the rushing course of Conar in winds. He poured his deep mist on Fillan, at blue-winding Lubar. Dark and mournful sat the ghost, bending in his grey ridge of smoke. The blast, at times, rolled him together: but the lovely form returned again. It returned with slow-bending eyes, and dark-winding of locks of mist.
d As the mUt which rose from the late of Lego, nccasioned disease, and death, the bards feigned, as here, that it was the residence of the ghosts of the deceased, doring the interval between their death and the pronouncing of the foneral elegy over their tombs; for it was nnt allowable, without that ceremony was performed, for the spirits of the dead to mix with their ancestors, in their airy halls. It was the business of the, spirit of the nearest relation to the deceased, to take the mist of Legu, and pour It ovesthe grave. We find here conar, t tie son of Trenmor, the first king of Ireland, accord, ing to Ossian, performing this office for Fillan, as it was in the cause of the family oi" Cooar, that that hero was killed. /
It was ' dark. The sleeping host were still, in the skirts of night. The flame decayed on the hill of Fingal; the king lay lonely on his shield. His eyes were half-closed in sleep; the voice of Fillan caine. "Sleeps the husband of Clatho? Dwells the father of the fallen in rest? Am I forgot in tlie folds of darkness; lonely in the season of dreams?"
"Why art thou in the midst of my dreams?" said Fingal; as sodden he rose. "Can I forget thee, my son, or thy path of fire in the field? Not soch, on the soul of the king, come the deeds of the mighty in arms. They are not there a beam of lightning, which is seen, and is then no more. I remember thee, O Fillan \ and my wrath begins to rise."
The king took his deathful spear, and struck the deeply-sounding shield: his shield that hung high on night, the dismal sign of war? Ghosts fled on every side, and rolled their gathered forms on the wind. Thrice from the winding vale arose the voices of death. The harps t of the bards, untouched, sound mournful over the hill.
He struck again the shield, battles rose in the dreams •of his host. The wide-tumbling strife is gleaming over their souls. Blue-shielded kings descend to war. Back'ward-looking armies fly; and mighty deeds are halfhid in the bright gleams of steel.
t The night-descriptions of Ossian were in high repote among socceeding bards. One of theor delivered a sentiments in a distich more nivourab;eto his taste for poetrys this to his gallantry towards the ladies. I snail here give a translation of it.
"More pleasant to me is the night of Coiias dark-streaming from Ossian's harp: more tsleasant is it to mes than a white-bosomed dweller between my arms : than a fair-han^rd daughter of heroess in the hour of rest."
Though tradition is not very satisfactory concerning the history of this poets it hit taken care to ioform us that he was very old when he wrotv the distich. lie lived !is what ages is uncertain) in one of the western isless and his name was Turloch Ciitglass or Turloch of the grey locks.
/It was the opinion of the timess that on the night preceding the death of a persos worthy and renowneds the harps of those birdss who were retained by his fsnillts emitted melanchoiy sounds. This was attributeds to use Ossian's expressions to the light touch of ghostsi who were sopposed to have foreknowledge of events. The sa*e opinion prevailed long in the norths and the particolar sound was calleds the waroisl TOice of the dead. The voice of deaths mentioned in the preiedini; sentences was of J rtillViLir.. kind. Each person was sopposed to have an attendant spirits who assoms-t his form and voices on the night preceding his deaths and appeared to somes in the St'tude in which the person was to die. Th -• voices ot death. were the foreboding shrieks those spirits.
But when the third sound arose, deer started from :he clefts of their rocks. The screams of fowl are heard, in the desart, as each flew, frighted, on his blast. The sons of Alhion half rose, and half-assumed their spears. But silence rolled back on the host: they knew the shield of the king. Steep returned to their eyes: the field was dark and still.
No sleep was thine in darkness, blue-eyed daughter of Coh-mor I Sul-malla heard the dreadful shield, and rose amidst the night. Her steps are towards the king of Atha. "Can danger shake his daring soul!" In doubt, she stands, with bending eyes. Heaven burns with all its stars.
Again the shield resounds! She rushed. She stopt. Her voice half-rose. It failed. She saw him, amidst his arms, that gleamed to heaven's fire. She saw him dim in his locks that rose to nightly wind. Away for fear, she turned her steps. "Why should the king of Erin awake? Thou art not a dream to his rest, daughter of Inis-huna."
More dreadful rung the shield, Sul-malla starts. Her helmet falls. Loud echoed Lubar's rock, as over it rolled the steel. Bursting from the dreams of night, Cathmor half-rose beneath his tree. He saw the form of the maid, above him, on the rock. A red star with twinkling beam looked down through her floating hair.
"Who comes through night to Cathmor, in the dark season of his dreams? Bringest thou ought of war? Who art thou, son of night? Standett thou before me, a form of the times of old? a voice from the fold of a cloud, to warn me of Erin's danger?
"Nor traveller of night am I, nor voice from folded cloud: but I warn thee of the danger of Erin. Dost thou hear that sound? It is not the feeble, king of Atha, that rolls his sirens on night."
"Let the warrior roll his signs ; to Cathmor they are the sound of harps. My jov is great, voice of night, and borns over all my thoughts. This is the mosic of kings, on lonely hills by night: when they light their daring souls, the sons of mighty deeds! the feeble dwell alone, in the valley of the breeze; where mists lift their morning skirts, from the blue-winding streams."
"Not feeble, thou leader of heroes, were they, the fathers of my race. They dwelt in the darkness of battle: in their distant lands. Yet delights not my soul in the signs of death! He swho never yields, comes forth: Awake the bard of peace!"
Like a rock with its trickling waters, stood Cathmor in his tears. Her voice came, a breeze on his soul, and waked the memory of her land; where she'dwelt by her peaceful' streams, before he came to the war of Con mor.
"Daughter of strangers," he said; ( she tremb'ing turned away) " long have I marked in her armour, the young pine of Inis-huna. But my soul, I said, is folded in a storm. Why should that beam arise, till my steps return in peace ?. have I been pale in thy presence, when thou hidst me to fear the king? The time of danger, O maids is the season of my soul; for then it swells a mighty streams and rolls me on the foe.
"Beneath the moss-covered rock of Lona, near his own winding stream: grey in his locks of ages dwells Clonmal e king of harps. Above him is his echoing oaks and the dun-bounding of roes. The noise of our strife reaches his ear, as he bends in the thoughts of years. There let thy rest be, Sul-malla, until our battle cease. Until I return, in my arms, from the skirts of the evening mist that rises on Lona, round the dwelling of my love."
A light fell on the soul of the maid; it rose kindled before the king. She turned her face to 'Cathmor: her locks are struggling with winds. "Sooner shall the :agle of heaven be torn from the streams of his roaring wind, when he sees the dun prey before him, the young sons of the bounding roe, than thou, O Cathmor, be turned from the strife of renown. Soon may 1 see thee, warrior, from the skirts of the evening mist, when it is rolled around me, on Lona of the streams. While yet thou are distant far, strike, Cathmor, strike the shield, that joy may return to my darkened soul, as I lean on the mossy rock. But if thou should fall—I am in the land of strangers; O send thy voice, from thy cloud, to the maid of lnis-huna."
lr Fingal is said to have never been overcome in battle. From this proceeded thst title of honour which is always bestowed on htm in traditions' Fion-ghalnabuals' F'*gal of Victories.' In a poems liist now in my handss which celebrates some of thefnn: actions of Arthur the famous British heros that appellation is often bestowed on hLnThe poems from the phraseolugys appears tobe ancient: and iss perhapss though talis not mentioneds a translation from the Welsh language.
D Claun-mals ' crooked eye-brow.' From the retired life of this persons It appein. that he was of the order of the droids-s which sopposition is nots at alls invalidatr. ''"/the appellation of' king of harpss'here bestowed on him; for all agree tllat the tar-e -t of the. nomber of the droidi originally.
"Young branch of green-headed Lumon, why dost thou shake in the storm? Often has Cathmor returned, from darkly-rolling wars. The darts of death are but hail to me; they have often bounded from my shield. 1 have risen brightened from battle, like a meteor from a stormy cloud. Return not, fair beam, from thy vale, when the roar of battle grows. Then might the foe escape, as from my fathers of old.
"They told to Son-moi', of Clunar*, slain by Cormac the giver of shells. Three days darkened Sonmor, over his brother's fall. His spouse beheld the silent king, and foresaw his steps to war. She prepared the bow in secret, to attend her blue-shielded hero. To her dwelt darkness at Atha, when the warrior moved to his fields. From, their hundred streams by night, poured down the ions of Alnecma. They had heard the shield of the king, and their rage arose. In clanging arms, they moved 2lor,g, towards TJllin the land of groves. Son-mor struck his shield, at t.mes, the leader of the war.
"Far behind followed Sul-allin', over the streamy hills. She was a light on the mountain, when they crossed the vale below. Her steps were stately on the vale, when they rose on the mossy hill. She feared to approach the king, who left her in Atha of hinds. But
i Son.iuor, ' tall handsome man.' He was the father of Borbar-dothul, chief of Atha, and graiulfathcr to Cathmor himself.
* Cluan-cr, . man of the Held.' This chief was killed in battle by Connai MacCnnar. k.ag of Ireland, the father of Ros-crana, the first wife of Fingal. The story is allude* to in other poems.
I a'Ttl-alluia, s beautiful eye,' the wife of Soa-snor.