Page images
PDF

white sails arose. The winds of the north carry tr?e ship of Fingal to Morven's woody land. Bnt the spirit of Loda, sat in his cloud, behind the ships of Frothai. He hung forward with all his blasts, and spread the white-bosomed sails. The wounds of his form were not forgot; he still fearedTM the hand of the king.

w The story of Fingal and the spirit of I odas sopposed to be the famous Odins is the most extravagant fiction in all Ossian's fpoems. It is nots howevers withoiit precedents in 'he bosi poets ; and it most be said for Ossians that he says nothing but what perfectly agreed with the notions of the timess concerning ghosts. They thought the souls of the dead weni material and consequently sosceptible of pain. Whether a proof could be drawn from this passages th:it Ossian had no notion of a divinitys 1 shall l-avc for others to determine: it appearss howevers that he was of opinions thatsope-rior beings ought to tuie ilo notice of what passed among mea.

[graphic]

SONGS OF SELMA.

STfce 9tcumcnt.

Tiu poem fixes the antiqoity of a costoms which is well known m have prrtnileds -fterwardss in the north of Scotlands and in Ireland. 'l he bardss at an annoal te^cts provided by the king or cldef! repeated their poems; and soch of them ai atre thoughts by hims worthy ol hi-ing pieservcrt,, were carefully taught to ths-ir clr.Mn ns in order to have them transmitted to posterity. It was one of those occasions t!ti.i afforded the soblect if the present poem to Osoian. It is called in the originals 1'ioi Songs of Selmas which title it was thought proper to adopt in the transition

line poem is entirely lyrics and has great variety of versirieation. The addn_ss to tns evening tUrs with which it openss hass in the original, all the harmony th^I niunbers could Rive it; flowing down with ail tlmt tranqoillity and soflneiss which the scene described naturally inspires.

Star of the descending night! fair is thy light in the west! thou liftest thy unshorn head from thy cloud: thy steps are stately on thy hill. What dost thou behold in the plain? The stormy winds are laid. The murmur of the torrent comes from afar. Roaring waves climb the distant rock. The flies of evening are on their feeble wings, and the hum of their course is on the field. What dost thou behold, fair light? But thou dost smile and depart. The waves come with joy around thee, and bathe thy lovely hair. Farewell, thou silent beam! Let the light of Ossian's soul arise.

And it does arise in its strength! I behold my departed friends. Their gathering is on Lora, as in the days that are past. Fingal came like a watery column of mist: his heroes are around. And see the bards of the song, grey-haired Ullin; stately Ryno; Alpin*, with the tuneful voice, and the soft complaint of Mi

.. Aipin is from the same root with Alhions or rather A thins the ancient name of Britain: Aids l high in hinds or country.' The present nan*• of our island has its oritn in the Celtic tongue; so that thuse who derived it from any other betrayed their i porance of the ancient language of oor country. Britain comes from Breact-ins ' va'-egated islands' so called from the face of the countrys from tht ttokives iaiming tlo.pi^Jscis oc ftwiOilwifidttt: .vuloored dothM.

nona! How are ye changed, my friends, since the days of Selma's feast! when we contended, like the gales of the spring, that, flying over the hill, by turns bend the feebly-whistling grass.

Minona then came forth in her beauty; with downcast look and tearful eye; her hair flew slowly on the blast that rushed unfrequent from the hill. The souls of the heroes were sad when she raised the tuneful voice: for often had they seen the grave of Salgar', and the dark dwelling of white-bosomed Colma'. Colma left alone on the hill, with all her voice of music! Salgar promised to come: but the night descended round. Hear the voice of Colma, when she sat alone on the hill!

Colma. It is night; I am alone, forlorn on the hill of storms. The wind is heard in the mountain. The torrent shrieks down the rock. No hut receives me from the rain; forlorn on the hill of winds.

Rise, moon! from behind thy clouds; stars of the night appear! Lead me, some light, to the place where my love rests from the toil of the chase; his bow near him, unstrung; his dogs panting around him. But here I must sit alone, by the rock of the mossy stream. The stream and the wind roar, nor can I hear the voice of my love. Why delays my Salgar, why the son of the hill,'his promise? Here is the rock, and the tree; and here the roaring stream. Thou didst promise with night to be here. Ah! whither is my Salgar gone? With thee would I fly, my father; with thee, my brother of pride. Our race have long been foes; but we are not foes, O Salgar!

Cease a little while, O wind! Stream, be thou silent a while! let my voice be heard over the heath; let my wanderer hear me. Salgar! it is I who call. Here is the tree and the rock. Salgar, my love! I am here. Why delayest thou thy coming? Lo! the moon appeareth. The flood is bright in^the vale. The rocks are grey on the face of the hill. But I see him not on the brow; his dogs before him tell not that he is coming. Here I must sit alone.

* Seals-'er, ( ft honter.' c Cul-roaths* woman with fine hair.'

But who are these that lie beyond me on the heath? Are they my love and my brother? Speak to me, O my friends! They answer not. My soul is tormented with fears. Ah! they are dead. Theirswords are red from the fight. O my brother! my brother'. why hast thon slain my Salgar? Why, O Sal gar! hast thou slain my brother? Dear were ye both to me! What shall I say in yonr praise? Thou wert fair on the hill among thousands; he was terrible in fight. Speak to me; hear my voice, sons of my love! But alas! they are silent; silent for ever! Cold are their breasts of clay! Oh! from the rock of the hill, from the top of the windy monntain, speak, ye ghosts of the dead! speak, I will not be afraid. Whither are ye gone to rest? In what cave of the hill shall I find you? No feeble voice is on the wind: no answer hall-drowned in the storms of the hill.

I sit in my grief. I wait for morning in my tears! Rear the tomb, ye friends of the dead: but close it not till Colma come. My life flies away like a dream: why should I stay behind l Here shall I rest with my friends, by the stream of the sounding rock. When night comes on the hill; when the wind is on the heath; my ghost shall stand in the wind, and mourn the death of my friends. The hunter shall hear from his booth. He shall fear, but love my voice. For sweet shall my voice be for my friends; for pleasant were they both to me.

Such was thy song, Minona, softly-blushing maid of Torman. Our tears descended for Colma, and our souls were sad. Ullin came with the harp, and gave the song of Alpin. The voice of Alpin was pleasant; the soul of Ryno was a beam of fire. But they had rested in the narrow house: and their voice was not heard in Selma. Ullin had returned one day from the chase, before the heroes fell. He heard their strife on the hill; the song was soft, but sad. They mourned the fall of Morar, first of mortal men. His soul was like the soul of Fingal; his sword like the sword of Oscar.. But he fell, and his father mourned: his sister's eyes

were full of tears. Minona's eyes were full of tears, the sister of car-borne Morar. She retired from the song of UUin, like the moon in the west, when she foresees the shower, and hides her fair head in a cloud. I touched the harp with Ullin; the song of mourning rose.

Ryno. The wind and the rain are over: calm is the noon of day. The clouds are divided in heaven. Over the green hills flies the inconstant son. Red through the stony vale comes down the stream of the hill. Sweet are thy mormurs, O stream! but more sweet is the voice I hear. It is the voice of Alpin, the son of song, mourning for the dead. Bent is his head of age, and red his tearful eye. Alpin, thou son of song, why alone on the silent hill? why complainest thou, as a blast in the wood? as a wave on the lonely shore?

Alpin. My tears, O Ryno! are for the dead; my voice for the inhahitants of the grave. Tall thou art on the hill; fair among the sons of the plain. But thou shalt fall like Morar''; and the mourner shall sit on thy tomb. The hills shall know thee no more; thy bow shall lie in the hall unstrung.

Thou wert swift, O Morar! as a roe on the hill: terrible as a meteor of fire. Thy wrath was as the storm. Thy sword in battle, as lightning in the field. Thy voice was like a stream after rain; like thunder on distant hills. Many fell by thy arm; they were consomed in the flames of thy wrath. But when thou didst return from war, how peaceful was thy brow! Thy face was like the son after rain I like the moon in the silence of night; calm as the breast of the lake when the loud wind is laid.

Narrow is thy dwelling now; dark the place of thine abode. With three steps I compass thy grave, O thou who wast so great before! Four stones, with their heads of moss, are the only memorial of thee. A tree with scarce a leaf, long grass which whistles in the wind, mark to the hunter's eye the grave of the mighty Morar. Morar, thou art low indeed. Thou

d Mor-er, . great roae.'

« PreviousContinue »