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darkness ; in my grassy vale. From this I shall mount the breeze, that pursues my thistle's beard; or look down, on blue-winding Atha, from its wandering mist.”
“ Why speaks the king of the tomb? Ossian! the warrior has failed ! Joy meet thy soul, like a stream, Cathmor, friend of strangers ! My son, I hear the call of years; they take my spear as they pass along. Why does not Fingal, they seem to say, rest within his hall ? Dost thou always delight in blood ? In the tears of the sad ? No: ye dark-rolling years, Fingal delights not in blood. Tears are wintry streams that waste away my soul. But, when I lie down to rest, then comes the mighty voice of war. It awakes me, in my hall, and calls forth all my steel. It shall call it forth no more; Ossian, take thou thy father's spear. Lift it, in battle, when the proud arise.
“My fathers, Ossian, trace my steps ; my deeds are pleasant to their eyes. Wherever I come forth to battle, on my field, are their columns of mist. But mine arm rescued the feeble; the haughty found my rage was fire. Never over the fallen did mine eye rejoice. For this,* my fathers shall meet me, at the gates of their airy halls, tall, with robes of light, with mildly-kindled eyes. But, to the proud in arms, they are darkened moons in heaven, which send the fire of night red-wandering over their face. .“ Father of heroes, Trenmor, dweller of eddying winds! I give thy spear to Ossian, let thine eye rejoice. Thee have I seen, at times, bright from between thy clouds; so appear to my son, when he is to lift the spear : then shall he remember thy mighty deeds, though thou art now but a blast.”
* The Celtic nations had some idea of rewards, and perhaps uf punishments, after death. Those who behaved, in life, with bravery and virtue, were received, with joy, to the airy halls of their fathers; but the dark in soul, to use the expression of the poet, were spurned away from the habitation of heroes, to wan, der on all the winds. Another opinion which prevailed in those times, tended not a little to make individuals emulous to excel one another in martial atchievements. It was thought, that, in the hall of clouds, every one had a seat, raised above others, in proportion as he excelled them, in valour, when he lived.
He gave the spear to my hand, and raised, at once, a stone on high, to speak to future times, with its grey head of moss. Beneath he placed a sword * in earth, and one bright boss from his shield. Dark in thought, a-while, he bends : his words, at length, came forth.
“ When thou, O stone, shall moulder down, and lose thee, in the moss of years, then shall the traveller come, and whistling pass away. Thou know'st not, feeble man, that fame once shone on Moi-lena. Here Fingal resigned his spear, after the last of his fields. Pass away, thou empty shade! in thy voice there is no renown. Thou dwellest by some peaceful
* There are some stones still to be seen in the north, which were erected as memorials of some remarkable transactions between the ancient chiefs. There are generally found, beneath them, some pieces of arms, and a bit of half-burnt wood. The cause of placing the last there is not mentioned in tradition.
stream; yet a few years, and thou art gone. No one remembers thee, thou dweller of thick mist! But Fingal shall be clothed with fame, a beam of light to other times; for he went forth, in echoing steel, to save the weak in arms.”
Brightening in his fame, the king strode to Lubar's sounding oak, where it bent from its rock, over the bright tumbling stream. Beneath it is a narrow plain, and the sound of the fount of the rock. Here the standard * of Morven poured its wreaths on the wind, to mark the way of Ferad-artho, from his secret vale. Bright, from his parted west, the sun of heaven looked abroad. The hero saw his people, and heard their shouts of joy. In broken ridges round, they glittered to the beam. The king rejoiced, as a hunter in his own green vale, when, after the storm is rolled away, he sees the gleaming sides of the rocks. The green thorn shakes its head in their face; from their top look forward the roes.
Grey,+ at his mossy cave, is bent the aged form of Clonmal. The eyes of the bard had failed. He
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* The erecting of his standard on the bank of Lubar, was the signal which Fingal, in the beginning of the book, promised to give to the chiefs, who went to conduct Ferad-artho to the army, should he himself prevail in battle. This standard here is called, the sun. leam. The reason of this appellation, I gave in my notes on the poem intitled Fingal,
+ The scene is changed to the valley of Lona, whither Sulmalla had been sent, by Cathmor, before the battle. Clonmal, an aged bard, or rather druid, as he seems here to be endued with a prescience of events, had long dwelt there in a cave. This scene is calculated to throw a melancholy gloom over the mind. .
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leaned forward, on bis staff. Bright in her locks, before him, Sul-malla listened to the tale; the tale of the kings of Atha, in the days of old. The noise of battle had ceased in his ear: he stopt, and raised the secret sigh. The spirits of the dead, they said, often lightened along his soul. He saw the king of Atha low, beneath his bending tree.
“Why art thou dark ?” said the maid. “ The “strife of arms is past. Soon * shall he come to thy cave, over thy winding streams. The sun looks from the rocks of the west. The mists of the lake arise.
Grey, they spread on that hill, the rushy dwelling of roes. From the mist shall my king appear ! Behold, he comes in his arms. Come to the cave of Clonmal, O my best beloved !"
It was the spirit of Cathmor, stalking, large, a gleaming form. He sunk by the hollow stream, that roared between the hills. “It was but the hunter,” she said, “who searches for the bed of the roe. His steps are not forth to war ; his spouse expects him with night. He shall, whistling, return with the spoils of the dark brown hinds.” Her eyes were turned to the hill; again the stately form came down. She rose in the midst of joy. He retired again in mist. Gradual vanish his limbs of smoke, and mix with the mountain wind. Then she knew that he fell ! “ King of Erin art thou low !"
* Cathmor had promised, in the seventh book, to come to the cave of Clonmal, after the battle was over.
Let Ossian forget her grief; it wastes the soul of
Evening came down on Moi-lena. Grey rolled the streams of the land. Loud came forth the voice of Fingal: the beam of oaks arose. The people gathered round with gladness; with gladness blended with shades. They sidelong looked to the king, and beheld his unfinished joy. Pleasant, from the way of the desert, the voice of music came. It seemed, at first, the noise of a stream, far-distant on its rocks. Slow it rolled along the hill, like the ruffled wing of a breeze, when it takes the tufted beard of the rocks,
* Tradition relates, that Ossian, the next day after the deci. sive battle between Fingal and Cathmor, went to find out Sulmalla, in the valley of Lona. His address to her follows :
" Awake, thou daughter of Conmor, from the fern-skirted cavern of Lona. Awake, thou sun-beam in deserts; warriors one day must fail. They move forth, like terrible lights; but, often, their cloud is near. Go to the valley of streams, to the wandering of herds, on Lumon; there dwells, in his lazy mist, the man of many days. But he is unknown, Sul-malla, like the thistle of the rocks of roes; it shakes its grey beard, in the wind, and falls, unseen of our eyes. Not such are the kings of men, their departure is a meteor of fire, which pours its red course from the desert, over the bosom of night.
“ He is mixed with the warriors of old, those fires that have hid their heads. At times shall they come forth in song. Not forgot has the warrior failed. He has not seen, Sul-malla, the fall of a beam of his own: no fair-haired son, in his blood, young troubler of the field. I am lonely, young branch of Lumon, I may hear the voice of the feeble, when my strength shall have failed in years, for young Oscar has ceased, on his field.”-* * * *
Sulmalla returned to her own country. She makes a considerable figure in another poem; her behaviour in that piece accounts for that partial regard with which the poet ought to speak of her throughout Temora.
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