« PreviousContinue »
troubled before him, and a thousand spirits are on the beams of his steel; the spirits» of those who are to fall by the arm of the king of resounding Morven. Happy art thou, O Fingal, thy sons shall fight thy battles; they go forth before thee : and they return with the steps of their renown.”
Fingal camne, in his mildness, rejoicing in secret over the actions of his son. Morni's face brightened with gladness, and his aged eyes looked faintly through the tears of joy. We came to the halls of Selma, and sat round the feast of shells. The maids of the song came into our presence, and the mildly-blushing Everallin. Her dark hair spread on her neck of snow, her eyes rolled in secret on Ossian; she touched the harp of music, and we blessed the daughter of Branno.
Fingal rose in his place, and spoke to Dunlathmon's battling king. The sword of Trenmor trembled by his side, as he lifted up his mighty arm. “ Son of Nuath," he said, " why dost thou search for fame in Morven? We are not of the race of the feeble; nor do our swords deam over the weak. When did we come to Dunlathmon, with the sound of war? Fingal does not delight in battle, though his arm is strong. My renown grows on the fall of the haughty. The lightning of my steel pours on the proud in arms. The battle comes : and the tombs of the yaliant rise; the tombs of my people rise, O my fathers and I at last must remain alone.. But I will remain renowned, and the departure of my soul shall be one stream of light. Lathmon! retire to thy place. Turn thy battles to other lands. The race of Morven are renowned, and their foes are the sons of the unhappy."
It was thought, in Ossian's time, that each person had his attending spirit. The QES COACerning this opinion are dark and unsatisfactory.
Gaul, the son of Morni, attended Lathmon into his own country, after his being de
feated in Morven, as related in the preceding poem. He was kindly entertained by Nuath the father of Lathmon, and fell in love with his daughter Oithona. The lady was no less enamoured of Gaul, and a day was fixed for their marriage. In the mean time Fingal, preparing for an expedition into the country of the Britons, sent for Gaul. He obeyed, and went ; but not without promising to Oithon3 to return, if he survived the war, by a certain day. Lathmon too was obliged to attend his father Nuath in his wars, and Oithona was left alone at Duniathmon, the seat of the fami. ly. Dunrommath, lord of Uthal, supposed to be one of the Orkneys, taking advantage of the absence of her friends, came and carried off, by force, Oithona, who had formerly rejected his love, into Tromathon, a desart island, where he concealed her
in a cave. Gaul returned on the day appointed; heard of the rape, and sailed to Tromathon, to
revenge himself on Dunrommath. When he landed, he found Oithona disconsolate, and resolved not to survive the loss of her honour. She told him the story of her misfortunes, and she scarce ended, when Dunrommath with his followers, appeared at the furthest end of the island. Gaul prepared to attack him, recominending to Oithona to retire till the battle was over. She seemingly obeyed : but she secretis armed herself, rushed into the thickest of the battle, and was mortally wounded Gaul pursuing the flying enemy, found her just expiring on the field; he mourned over her, raised her tomb, and returned to Morven. Thus is the story banded down by tradition; nor is it given with any material difference in the poem, which opens with Gaul's return to Dunlathmon, after the rape of Oithona.
DARKNESS dwells around Dunlathmon, though the moon shows half her face on the hill. The daughter of night turns her eyes away; for she beholds the griei that is coming. The son of Morni is on the plain; but there is no sound in the hall. No long streaming beam of light comes trembling through the gloom. The voice of Oithona a is not heard amidst the noise of the streams of Duvranna. “ Whither art thou gone in thy beauty, dark-haired daughter of Nuath? Lathmon is in the field of the valiant, but thou didst promise to remain in the hall till the son of Morni return. ed; till he returned from Strumon, to the maid of his love. The tear was on thy cheek at his depar.
ture : the sigh rose in secret in thy breast. But thou dost not come to meet him with songs, with the lightly-trembling sound of the harp.”
Such were the words of Gaul, when he came to Dunjathmon's towers. The gates were open and dark. The winds were blustering in the hall. The trees strewed the threshold with leaves; and the murmur of night was abroad. Sad, and silent at a rock, the son of Morni sat: his soul trembled for the maid ; but he knew not whither to turn his course. The son of Leth stood at a distance, and heard the winds in his bushy hair. But he did not raise his voice, for he saw the sorrow of Gaul.
Sleep descended on the heroes. The visions of night arose. Oithona stood in a dream, before the eyes of Morni's son. Her dark hair was ioose and disordered: her lovely eyes rolled in tears. Blood stained her snowy arm. The robe half hid the wound of her breast. She stood over the chief, and her voice was heard.
“ Sleeps the son of Morni, he that was lovely in the eyes of Oithona. Sleeps Gaul at the distant rock, and the daughter of Nuath low? The sea rolls round the dark isle of Tromathon ; I sit in my tears in the cave. Nor do I sit alone, O Gaul, the dark chief of Cluihal is there. He is there in the rage of his love. And what can Oithona do?”
A rougher blass rushed through the oak. The dream of night departed. Gaul took his aspen spear; he stood in the rage of wrath. Often did his eyes turn to the east, and accuse the lagging light. At length the moming came forth. The hero lifted up the sail. The winds came rustling from the hill; and he bounded on the waves of the deep. On the third day arose Tromathione, like a blue shield in the midst of the sea. The white wave roared against its rocks; sad Oithona sat on the coast. She looked on the rolling waters,
Morio, the son of Leth, is one of Fingal's most famous heroes. He and three other men attended Gaul on his expedition to Tromathon.
« Tromn-Thon, heavy or deep sounding wave,'
and her tears descend. But when she saw Gaul in his arms, she started and turned her eyes away. Her lovely cheek is bent and red; her white arm trembles by her side. Thrice she strove to fiy from his presence ; but her steps failed her as she went.
" Daughter of Nuath," said the hero, " why dost thou fly from Gaul ? Do my eyes send forth the flame of death? or darkens hatred in my soul? Thou art to me the beam of the east, rising in a land unknown. But thou coverest thy face with sadness, daughter of high Dunlarhmon ! Is the foe of Oithona near? My soul burns to meet him in battle. The sword trembles on the side of Gaul, and longs to glitter in his hand. Speak, daughter of Niath, dost thou not behold my tears."
" Car-borne chief of Strumon," replied the sighing maid, “ why comest thou over the dark blue wave to Nuath's mournful daughter? Why did I not pass away in secret, like the flower of the rock, that lifts its fair head unseen, and strews its withered leaves on the blast? Why didst thou come, O Gaul, to hear my departing sigh? I pass away in my youth; and my name shall not be heard. Or it will be heard with sorrow, and the tears of Nuath will fall. Thou wilt be sad, son of Morni, for the fallen fame of Oithona. But she shall sleep in the narrow tomb, far from the voice of the mourner. Why didst thou come, chief of Strumon, to the sea-beat rocks of Tromathon?".
“ I came to meet my foes, daughter of car-borne Nuath! the death of Cuthal's chief darkens before me; or Morni's son shall fall. Oithona! when Gaul is low, raise my tomb on the oozy rock; and when the darkbounding ship shall pass, call the sons of the sea; call them, and give this sword, that they may carry it to Morni's hall; that the grey-haired hero may cease to look towards the desart for the return of his son."
" And shall the daughter of Nuath?" she replied with a bursting sigh'; “ Shall I live in Tromathon, and "he son of Morni low? My heart is not of that rock; or my soul careless as that sea, which lifts its blus
waves to every wind, and rolls beneath the storm. The blast which shall lay thee low, shall spread the branches of Oithona on earth. We shall w.cher together, son of car-borne Morni? The narrow house is please ant to me, and the grey stone of the dead : for never more will I leave thy rocks, sea-surrounding fromathon! night" came on with her clouds, after the departure of Lathmon, when he went to the wars of his fathers, 10 the moss-covered rock of Duthormoth; night came on, and I sat in the ball, at the beam of the oak. The wind was abroad in the trees. I heard the sound of arms. Joy rose in my face; for I thought of thy return. It was the chief of Cuthal, the red-haired strength of Dunrommath. His eyes rolled in fire: the blood of my people was on his sword. They who de. fended Oithona fell by the gloomy chief. What could I do? My arm was weak; it could not lift the spear. He took me in my grief, amidst my tears he raised the sail. He feared the returning strength of Lathmon, the brother of unhappy Oithona. But behold, he comes with his people! the dark wave is divided before him! Whither wilt thou turn thy steps, son of Morni? Many are the warriors of Dunrommath!”
“My steps never turned from battle," replied the hero as he unsheathed his sword; “ and shall I begin to fear, Oithona, when thy foes are near? Go to thy cave, daughter of Nuath, till our battle cease. Son of Leth, bring the bows of our fathers; and the sounding quiver of Morni. Let our three warriors bend the yew. Ourselves will lift the spear. They are an host on the rock ; but our souls are strong."
The daughter of Nuath went to the cave: a troubled joy rose on her mind, like the red path of the lightning on a stormy, cloud. Iler soul was resolved, and the tears was dried from her wildly-looking eye. Dunrommath slowly approached; for he saw the son of Morni. Conteinpt contracted his face, a smile is on his dark brown cheek ; his red eye rolled, half-concealed, beneath his shaggy brow's.
Oi! bona relates how she was carried away by Dunroinmath.