« PreviousContinue »
joiee. Why do I remember the battles of my youth? My hair is mixed with grey. My hand forgets to bend the bow : and I lift a lighter spear. O that my joy would return as when I first beheld the maid; the white-bosomed daughter of strangers, Moina • with the dark-blue eyes!"
"Tell," said the mighty Fingal, " the tale of thy youthful days. Sorrow, like a cloud on the sun, shades the soul of Clessammor. Mournful are thy thoughts, alone, on the banks of the roaring Lora. Let its hear the sorrow of thy youth, and the darkness of thy days."
"It was in the days of peace," replied the great Clessammor, " I came, in my bounding ship, to Balclutha's-^ walls of towers. The wind had roared behind my sails, and Clutha's s streams received my darkbosomed vessel. Three days I remained in Reuthamir's halls, and saw that beam of light, his daughter. The joy of the shell went round, and the aged hero gaye the fair. Her breasts were like foam on the wave, and her eyes like stars of light: her hair was dark as the raven's wing: her soul was generous and mild. My love for Moina was great; and my heart poured forth in joy.
"The son of a stranger came; a chief who loved the white-bosomed Moina. His words were mighty in the hall. And he often half unsheathed his sword. Where, he said, is the mighty Conihal, the restless wanderer e of the heath? Comes he, with his host, to Balclutha, since Clessammor is so bold? My soul, I replied, O warrior! burns in a light of its own. I stand without fear in the midst of thousands, though the valiant are distant far. Stranger! thy words are mighty, for Clessammor is alone. But my sword trembles by my side, and longs to glitter in my band. Speak no more of Comhal, son of the winding Clntha'."
I Moina. i loft in temper and person.' We find the British names in this poem derived fromthe Gaelics which is a proof that the ancient langoage of the whole island was one and the same.
/Baklathas i. e. the town cf Clydes probably the Alcluth of Bede.
t Chtthas or Cluaths the Gaelic name of the river Clyde; the signification of the want is' bendings' in allusion to the winding coorse of that river. From Clutha is derived its Latin names Glolta.
* the word in the original here rendered ' restless wanderers' is scotas which is the •right of the Scoti of the Romans; an opprobrious name imposed by the Britons on • *e Caledonian* on account of the continoal incorsions into their country
"The strength of his pride arose. We fought; he fell beneath my sword. The banks of Clutha heard his fall, and a thousand spears glittered around. I fought: the strangers prevailed: I plunged into the stream of Clutha. My white sails rose over the waves, and I bounded on the dark-blue sea. Moina came to the shore, and rolled the red eye of her tears: her dark hair flew on the wind; and I heard her cries. Often did I turn my ship; but the winds of the east prevailed. Nor Clutha ever since have I seen, nor Moina of the dark-brown hair. She fell on Balclutha; for I have seen her ghost. I knew her as she came through the dusky night, along the murmur of Lora: she was like the new moon seen through the gathered mist: when the sky pours down its flaky snow, and the world is silent and dark."
"Raise ', ye bards," said the mighty Fingal, " the praise of unhappy Moina. Call her ghosts, with youE songs, to our hills; that she may rest with the fair of Morven, the son-beams of other days, and the delight of heroes of old. I have seen the walls of Balclutha, but they were desolate. The fire had resounded in the halls; and the voice of the people is heard no more. The stream of Clutha was removed from its place, by the fall of the walls. The thistle shook, there, its lonely head: the moss whistled in the wind. The fox looked out from the windows; the rank grass of the wall waved round his head. Desolate is the dwelling of Moina, silence is in the house of her father. Raise the song of mourning, O bards, over the land of strangers. They have but fallen before us: for, one day, we must fall. Why dost thou build the hall, son of the winged days? thou lookest from thy towers to-day; yet a few years, and the blast of the desart comes; it howls on thy empty court, and whistles round thy half-worn shield. And let the blast of the desart come! we shall be renowned in our day. The mark of my arm shall be in the battle, and my name in the song of bards. Raise the song; send round the shell: and let joy be heard in my hall. When thou, son of heaven, shalt fail! if thou shaltfail, thou mighty light! if thy brightness is for a season; like Fingal, our fame shall sorvive thy beams."
i Tbetitls-of this poem in the original iss c Duan na nlauls' i. c. thel Poem of Hymns ;' probably on account of its many digressions from the soblects all which are in a lyric measores as this song of Fingal. Fingal is celebrated by the Irish historians for bis wisdom in making lawss his poetical genioss and foreknow!*!i?e of events. Dwils> nerty goes so far as to says that Fingal'a laws were extant in his own torn.
Such was the song of Fingal, in the day of his joy. His thoosand bards leaned forward from their seats, to hear the voice of the king. It was like the mosic of the harp on the gale of the spring. Lovely were thy thoughts, O Fingal! why had not Ossian the strength of thy soul? But thou standest alone, my father; and who can equal the king of Morven?
The night passed away in song, and morning retorned in joy; the mountains shewed their grey heads; and the blue face of the ocean smiled. The white wave is seen tombling round the distant rock; the grey mist rises slowly from the lake. It came, in the figore of an aged man, along the silent plain. Its large limbs did not move in steps, for a ghost sopported it in mid air. It came towards Selma's hall, and dissolved in a shower of blood.
The king alone beheld the terrible sight, and he foresaw the death of the people. He came in silence to his hall ; and took his father's spear. The mail rattled on his breast. The heroes rose around. They looked in silence on each other, marking the eyes of Fingal. They saw the battle in his face, the death of armies on his spear. A thousand shields, at once, are placed on their arms: and they drew a thousand swords. The hall of Selma brightened around. The clang of arms ascends. The grey dogs howl in their place. No word is among the mighty chiefs. Each marked the eyes of the king; and half-assomed his spear.
"Sons of Morven," begun the king, " this is no time to fill the shell. The battle darkens near us; and death hovers over the land. Some ghost, the friend of Fingal, has forewarned us of the foe. The sons of the stranger come from the dark-rolling sea. For, from the water, came the sign of Morven's gloomy danger. Let each assome his heavy spear, and gird on his father's sword. Let the dark helmet rise on every head; and the mail pour its lightning from every side. The battle gathers like a tempest, and soon shall ye hear the roar of death."
The hero moved on before his host, like a cloud before a ridge of heaven's fire; when it pours on the sky of night, and mariners foresee a storm. On Cona's rising heath they stood: the white-bosomed maids beheld them above like a grove, and foresaw the death of their youths, and looked toward the sea with fear. The white wave deceived them for distant sails, and the tear is on their cheek. The son rose on the sea, and we beheld a distant fleet. Like the mist of ocean they came: and poured their youth upon the coast. The chief was among them, like the stag in the midst of the herd. His shield is studded with gold, and stately strode the king of spears. He moved towards Selma; his thousands moved behind.
"Go, with thy song of peace," said Fingal; "go, Ullin, to the king of swords. Tell him that we are mighty in battle, and that the ghosts of our foes are many. But renowned are they who have feasted in my halls! they show the arms* of my fathers in a foreign land: the sons of the strangers wonder, and bless the friends of Morven's race; for our names have been heard afar; the kings of the world shook in the midst of their people."
Ullin went with his song. Fingal rested on his spear: he saw the mighty foe in his armour: and he blest the stranger's son. " How stately art thou, son ot the sea"' said the king of woody Morven. " Thy sword is a beam of might by thy side: thy spear is a fir that defies the storm. The varied face of the moon is not broader than thy shield. Ruddy is thy face of youth! soft the rfnglets of thy hair! But this tree may fall; and his memory be forgot! The daughter of the stranger will be sad, and look to the rolling sea: the children will say, " We see a ship; perhaps it is the king of Balclutha." The tear starts from their mother's eye. Her thoughts are of him that sleeps in Morven."
* It wu a costom among the ancient Scots, to exchange arms with tin ir Bursts, .tnd those arms were preserved long in the different tum.i!.., ~ih monument. ot the riendship which autsiited between their anceslors.
Such were the words of the king, when Ullin came to the mighty Carthon: he threw down the spear before him; and raised the song of peace. "Come to the feast of Fingal, Carthon, from the rolling sea '. partake the feast of the king, or lift the spear of war. The ghosts of our foes are many: but renowned are the friends of Morven! Behold that field, O Carthon; many a green hill rises there with mossy stones and rustling grass: these are the tombs of Fingal's foes, the sons of the rolling sea."
- ". Dost thou speak to the feeble in arms," said Car. thon, " bard of the woody Morven > Is my face pale for fear, son of the peaceful song? Why, then, dost thou think to darken my soul with the tales of those who fell? My arm has fought in the battle; my renown is known afar. Go to the feeble in arms, and hid them yield to Fingal. Have not I seen the fallen Balclutha? and »hall I feast with Comhal's son? Comhal! who threw his fire in the midst of my father's hall'. I was young, and knew not the cause why the virgins wept. The columns of smoke pleased mine eye, when they rose above my walls; I often looked back, with gladness, when my friends fled along the hill. But when the years of my youth came on, I beheld the moss' of my fallen walls: my sigh arose with the morning, and my tears descended with night. Shall I not fight, I said to my soul, against the children of my foes? And I will fight, O bard; I feel the strength of my soul."
His people gathered around the hero, and drew, at once, their shining swords. He stands, in the midst, like a pillar of fire, the tear half-starting from his eye: for he thought of the fallen Baiclutha, and the crowded pride of his soul arose. Sidelong he looked up to the hill, where our heroes shone in arras; the spear tiers