« PreviousContinue »
land, to call the ghosts from high. On his hill, he had dwelt, in Lochlin, in the midst of a leafless grove. Five stones lifted, near, their heads. Loud roared his rushing stream. He often raised his voice to the winds, when meteors marked their nightly wings; when the dark-robed moon was rolled behind her hill. Nor unheard of ghosts was he! They came with the sound of eagle wings. They turned battle, in fields, before the kings of men.
"But, Trenmor, they turned not from battle. He drew forward that troubled war; in its dark skirt was Trathal, like a rising light. It was dark; and Loda's son poured forth his signs, on night. The feeble were not before thee, son of other lands !* Then rose the strife of kings, about the hill of night; but it was soft as two summer gales, shaking their light wings, on a lake. Trenmor yielded to his son; for the fame of the king had been heard. Trathal came forth before his father, and the foes failed, in echoing Caracha. The years that are past, my son, are marked with mighty deeds." f.
In clouds rose the eastern light. The foe came forth in arms. The strife is mixed on Rath-col, like
* Trenmor and Trathal. Ossian introduced this episode, as an example to his son, from ancient times.
f Those who deliver down this poem in tradition, lament that there is a great part of it lost. In particular they regret the loss of an episode, which was here introduced, with the sequel of the story of Carmal and his Druids. Their attachment to it was founded on the descriptions of magical inchantments which it contained.
the roar of streams. Behold the contending of kings! They meet beside the oak. In gleams of steel the dark forms are lost; such is the meeting of meteors, in a vale by night: red light is scattered round, and men foresee the storm! Duth-carmor is low in blood! The son of Ossian overcame; Not harmless in battle was he, Malvina hand of harps!
Nor, in the field, were the steps of Cathlin. The stranger stood by a secret stream, where the foam of Rath-col skirted the mossy stones. Above, bends the branchy birch, and strews its leaves, on wind. The inverted spear of Cathlin touched, at times, the stream. Oscar brought Duth-carmor's mail: his helmet with its eagle wing. He placed them before the stranger, and his words were heard. "The foes of thy father have failed. They are laid in the field of ghosts. Renown returns to Morven, like a rising wind. Why art thou dark, chief of Clutha? Is there cause for grief?"
"Son of Ossian of harps, my soul is darkly sad. I behold the arms of Cathmol, which he raised in war. Take the mail of Cathlin, place it high in Selma's hall; that thou mayst remember the hapless in thy distant land." From white breasts descended the mail. It was the race of kings; the soft-handed daughter of Cathmol, at the streams of Clutha! Duth-carmor saw her bright in the hall, he had come, by night, to Clutha. Cathmol met him, in battle, but the hero fell. Three days dwelt the foe, with the maid. On the fourth she fled in arms. She remembered the race of kings, and felt her bursting soul!
Why, maid of Toscar of Lutha, should I tell how Cathlin failed? Her tomb is at rushy Lumon, in a distant land. Near it were the steps of Sul-malla, in the days of grief. She raised the song, for the daughter of strangers, and touched the mournful harp.
Come, from the watching of night, Malvina, lonely beam!
SUL-MALLA Of LUMON:
This poem, which, properly speaking, is a continuation of the last, opens with an address to Sul-malla, the daughter of the king of Inis-huna, whom Ossian met, at the chace, as he returned from the battle of Rath-col. Sul-malla invites Ossian and Oscar to a feast, at the residence of her father, who was then absent in the wars. Upon hearing their name and family, she relates an expedition of Fingal into Inis-huna. She casually mentioning Cathmor, chief of Atha (who then assisted her father against his enemies), Ossian introduces the episode of Culgorm and Suran-dronlo, two Scandinavian kings, in whose wars Ossian himself and Cathmor were engaged on opposite sides. The story is imperfect, a part of the original being lost. Ossian, warned in a dream, by the ghost of Trenmor, sets sail from Inis-huna.
*who moves so stately, on Lumon, at the roar of the foamy waters? Her hair falls upon her heaving breast. White is her arm behind, as slow she bends
* The expedition of Ossian to Inis-huna happened a short time before Fingal passed over into Ireland, to dethrone Cairbar the son of Borbar-duthul. Cathmor, the brother of Cairbar, was aiding Conmor, king of Inis-huna, in his wars, at the time that O sian defeated Duth-carmor, in the valley of Rath-col. The poem is more interesting, that it contains so many particulars concerning those personages, who make so great a figure in Temora.
The exact correspondence in the manners and customs of Inis-huna, as here described, to those of Caledonia, leaves no room to doubt, that the inhabitants of both were originally the same people. Some may allege, that Ossian might transfer,
the bow. Why dost thou wander in deserts, like a light thro' a cloudy field? The young roes are panting, by their secret rocks. Return, thou daughter of kings! the cloudy night is near! It was the young branch of green Inis-huna, Sul-malla of blue eyes. She sent the bard from her rock, to bid us to her feast. Amidst the song we sat down, in Cluba's echoing hall. White moved the hands of Sul-malla, on the trembling strings. Half-heard amidst the sound, was the name of Atha's king: he that was absent in battle for her own green land. Nor absent from her soul was he; he came midst her thoughts by night. Ton-thena looked in, from the sky, and saw her tossing arms.
The sound of shells had ceased. Amidst long locks, Sul-malla rose. She spoke with bended eyes, and asked of our course thro' seas; "for of the kings of men are ye, tall riders of the wave."* "Not un
in his poetical descriptions, the manners of his own nation to foreigners. This objection is easily answered. Why has he not done this with regard to the inhabitants of Scandinavia? We find the latter very different in their customs and superstitions from the nations of Britain and Ireland. The Scandinavian manners are remarkably barbarous and fierce, and seem to mark out a nation much less advanced in a state of civilization, than the inhabitants of Britain were in the times of Ossian.
* Sul-malla here discovers the quality of Ossian and Oscar, from their stature and stately gait. Among nations, not far advanced in civilization, a superior beauty and stateliness of person were in-eparable from nobility of blood. It was from these qualities, that those of family were known by strangers, not from tawdry trappings of state injudiciously thrown round them. The cause of this distinguishing property, must, in some measure, be ascribed to their unmixed blood. They had no induce*