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thou that sittest on the rolling of waves! Fingal is distant far; he hears the songs of bards in Morven: the wind of his hall is in his hair. His terrible spear is at his side; his shield that is like the darkened moon! Come to the battle of Oscar; the hero is alone!He came not over the streamy Carun.* The bard returned with his song. Grey night grows dim on Crona The feast of shells is spread. A hundred oaks burn to the wind; faint light gleams over the heath. The ghosts of Ardven pass thro' the beam, and shew their dim and distant forms. Comala f is half unseen on her meteor; Hidallan is sullen and dim, like the darkened moon behind the mist of night. "Why art thou sad?" said Ryno; for he alone beheld the chief. "Why art thou sad, Hidallan! hast thou not received thy fame? The songs of Ossian have been heard; thy ghost has brightened in wind, when thou didst bend from thy cloud, to hear the song of Morven's bard!" "And do thine eyes," said Oscar, "behold the chief, like the dim meteor of night? Say, Ryno, say, how fell Hidallan, the renowned in the days of my fathers? His name remains on the rocks of Cona. I have often seen the streams of his hills I"
* The river Carron.
f This is the scene of Comala's death, which is the subject of the dramatic poem. The poet mentions her in this place, in order to introduce the sequel of Hidallan's story, who, on account of her death, had been expelled from the wars of Fingal.
Fingal, replied the bard, drove Hidallan from his wars. The king's soul was sad for Comala, and his eyes could not behold the chief. Lonely, sad along the heath, he slowly moved, with silent steps. His arms hang disordered on his side. His hair flies loose from his brow. The tear is in his down-cast eyes; a sigh half-silent in his breast! Three days he strayed unseen, alone, before he came to Lamor's halls: the mossy halls of his fathers, at the stream of Balva.* There Lamor sat alone beneath a tree; for he had sent his people with Hidallan to war. The stream ran at his feet, his grey head rested on his staff. Sightless are his aged eyes. He hums the song of other times. The noise of Hidallan's feet came to his ear: he knew the tread of his son.
"Is the son of Lamor returned; or is it the sound of his ghost? Hast thou fallen on the banks of Carun, son of the aged Lamor? Or, if I hear the sound of Hidallan's feet: where are the mighty in the war? where are my people, Hidallan! that were wont to return with their echoing shields? Have they fallen on the banks of Carun?"
"No:" replied the sighing youth, " the people of Lamor live. They are renowned in war, my father! but Hidallan is renowned no more. I must sit alone on the banks of Balva, when the roar of the battle grows."
* This is perhaps that small stream, still retaining the name of Balva, which runs through the romantic valley of Glentivar in Stirlingshire. Balva signifies a silent stream; and Glentivar, the sequestered vale.
"But thy fathers never sat alone," replied the rising pride of Lamor. "They never sat alone on the banks of Balva, when the roar of battle rose. Dost thou not behold that tomb? My eyes discern it not; there rests the noble Garmallon, who never fled from war! Come, thou renowned in battle, he says, come to thy father's tomb. How am I renowned, Garmallon? my son has fled from war!"
"King of the streamy Balva!" said Hidallan with a sigh, "why dost thou torment my soul? Lamor, I never fled. Fingal was sad for Comala; he denied his wars to Hidallan. Go to the grey streams of thy land, he said; moulder like a leafless oak, which the winds have bent over Balva, never more to grow!"
"And must I hear," Lamor replied, "the lonely tread of Hidallan's feet? When thousands are renowned in battle, shall he bend over my grey streams? Spirit of the noble Garmallon! carry Lamor to his place; his eyes are dark; his soul is sad; his son has lost his fame!"
"Where," said the youth, "shall I search for fame to gladden the soul of Lamor? From whence shall I return with renown, that the sound of my arms may be pleasant in his ear? If I go to the chace of hinds, my name will not be heard. Lamor will not feel my dogs, with his hands, glad at my arrival from the hill. He will not enquire of his mountains, or of the dark-brown deer of his deserts!"
"I must fall," said Lamor, "like a leafless oak: it grew on a rock! it was overturned by the winds! My ghost will be seen on my hills, mournful for my young Hidallan. Will not ye, ye mists! as ye rise, hide him from my sight? My son! go to Lamor's hall: there the arms of our fathers hang. Bring the sword of Garmallon; he took it from a foe!"
He went and brought the sword with all its studded thongs. He gave it to his father. The grey-haired hero felt the point with his hand.
"My son! lead me to Garmallon's tomb: it rises beside that rustling tree. The long grass is withered: I hear the breezes whistling there. A little fountain murmurs near, and sends its water to Balva. There let me rest; it is noon: the sun is on our fields!"
He led him to Garmallon's tomb. Lamor pierced the side of his son. They sleep together: their ancient halls moulder away. Ghosts are seen there at noon: the valley is silent, and the people shun the place of Lamor.
"Mournful is thy tale," said Oscar, "son of the times of old! My soul sighs for Hidallan; he fell in the days of his youth. He flies on the blast of the desert, his wandering is in a foreign land. Sons of the echoing Morven! draw near to the foes of Fingal. Send the night away in songs; watch the strength of Caros. Oscar goes to the people of other times; to the shades of silent Ardven; where his fathers sit dim in their clouds, and behold the future war. And art thou there, Hidallan, like a half extinguished me
teor? Come to my sight, in thy sorrow, chief of the winding Balva!"
The heroes move with their songs. Oscar slowly ascends the hill. The meteors of night set on the heath before him. A distant torrent faintly roars. Unfrequent blasts rush through aged oaks. The half-enlightened moon sinks dim and red behind her hill. Feeble voices are heard on the heath. Oscar drew his sword!
"Come," said the hero, "O ye ghosts of my fathers! ye that fought against the kings of the world t Tell me the deeds of future times; and your converse in your caves; when you talk together, and behold your sons in the fields of the brave."
Trenmor came, from his hill, at the voice of his mighty son. A cloud, like the steed of the stranger, supported his airy limbs. His robe is of the mist of Lano, that brings death to the people. His sword is a green meteor half-extinguished. His face is without form, and dark. He sighed thrice over the hero: thrice the winds of night roared around! Many were his words to Oscar; but they only came by halves to our ears: they were dark as the tales of other times, before the light of the song arose. He slowly vanished, like a mist that melts on the sunny hill. It was then, O daughter of Toscar! my son began first to be sad. He foresaw the fall of his race. At times, he was thoughtful and dark; like the sun when he carries a cloud on his face, but again he looks forth from his darkness on the green hills of Cona.