Page images

stretched his hand to the spear: the ghosts of thou.
sands were near, and foresaw the death of the people.
Terrible joy rose in the face of the aged heroes. They
rushed to meet the foe. Their thoughts are on the
deeds of other years: and on the fame that rises from
death !
Now at Trathal's ancient tomb the dogs of the chase
appeared. Fingal knew that his young heroes follow-
ed. He stopped in the midst of his course. Oscar
appeared the first; then Morni's son, and Némi's race.
Fercuth showed his gloomy form. Dermid spread his
dark hair on wind. Ossian came the last. I hummed
the song of other times. My spear supported my steps
over the little streams. My thoughts were of mighty
men. Fingal struck his bossy shield, and gave the
dismal sign of war. A thousand swords at once, un-
sheathed, gleam on the waving heath. Three gray-
haired sons of the song raise the tuneful, mournful
voice. Deep and dark, with sounding steps, we rush,
a gloomy ridge, along; like the shower of the storm
when it pours on a narrow vale.
The king of Morven sat on his hill. The sunbeam
of battle flew on the wind. The friends of his youth
are near, with all their waving locks of age. Joy rose
in the hero's eyes when he beheld his sons in war;
when he saw us amidst the lightning of swords, mind.
ful of the deeds of our fathers. Erragon came on, in
his strength, like the roar of a winter stream. The
battle falls around his steps: death dimly stalks along
by his side.
“Who comes,” said Fingal, “like the bounding
roe ; like the hart of echoing Cona 2 His shield glit.
ters on his side. The clang of his armor is mournful.
He meets with Erragon in the strife. Behold the
battle of the chiefs! It is like the contending of ghosts
in a gloomy storm. But fallest thou, son of the hill,

[ocr errors]

and is thy white dosom stained with blood Weep, unhappy Lorma! Aldo is no more s” The king took the spear of his strength. He was sad for the fall of Aldo. He bent his deathful eyes on the foe: but Gaul inet the king of Sora. Who can relate the fight of the chiefs The mighty stranger fell! “Sons of Cona " Finga. cried aloud, “stop the hand of death. Mighty was he that is low. Much is he mourned in Sora ! The stranger will come towards his hall, and wonder why it is so silent. The king is fallen, O stranger! The joy of his house is ceased. Listen to the sound of his woods! Perhaps his ghost is murmuring there ! But he is far distant, on Morven, beneath the sword of a foreign foe.” Such were the words of Fingal, when the bard raised the song of peace. We stopped our uplifted swords. We spared the feeble foe. We laid Erragon in a tomb. I raised the voice of grief. The clouds of night came rolling down. The ghost of Erragon appeared to some. His face was cloudy and dark; a half-formed sigh in his breast. “Blest be thy soul, O king of Sora! thine arm was terrible in war !” Lorma sat in Aldo's hall. She sat at the light of a slaming oak. The night came down, but he did not return. The soul of Lorma is sad “What detains thee, hunter of Cona 2 Thou didst promise to return. Has the deer been distant far ! Do the dark winds sigh, round thee, on the heath 2 I am in the and of strangers; who is my friend, but Aldo Come from thy sounding hills, O my best beloved s” Her eyes are turned towards the gate. She listens to the rustling blast. She thinks it is Aldo's tread. Joy rises in her face' But sorrow returns again, like a thin cloud on the moon. “Wilt thou not return, my love 7 Let me behgld the face of the hill. The moon w in the east. Calm and bright is the breast of the lake When shall I behold his dogs, returning from the chase ? When shall I hear his voice, loud and dis. tant on the wind Come from thy sounding hills. hunter of woody Cona" His thin ghost appeared, on a rock, like a watery beam of feeble light: when the moon rushes sudden from between two clouds, and the midnight shower is on the field. She followed the empty form over the heath. She knew that her hero fell. I heard her approaching cries on the wind, like the mournful voice of the breeze, when it sighs on the grass of the cave

She came. She found her hero ! Her voice was heard no more. Silent she rolled her eyes. She was pale and wildly sad 1 Few were her days on Cona. She sunk into the tomb. Fingal commanded his bards; they sung over the death of Lorma. The daughters of Morven mourned her, for one day in the year, when the dark winds of autumn returned

Son of the distant land 1 Thou dwellest in the field of fame ! O let the song arise, at times, in praise of those who fell ! Let their thin ghosts rejoice around thee; and the soul of Lorma come on a feeble beam; when thou liest down to rest, and the moon looks into thy cave. Then shalt thou see her lovely; but the ear is still on her cheek"

[merged small][ocr errors]

tambar, the scn of Borbar-duthul, lord of Atha, in Connaught, the most potent chief of the race of the Fir-bolg, having murdered, at Temora, the royal palace, Cormac, the son of Artho, the young king of Ireland, usurped the throne. Cormac was lineasy descended from Conar, the son of Trenmor, the great-grandfather of Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the western coast of Scotland. Fingal resented the behavior of Cairbar, and resolved to pass over into Ireland with an army, to re-establish the royal family on the Irish throne. Early intelligence of his designs coming to Cairbar, he assembled some of his tribes in Ulster, and at the same time ordered his brother Cathmor to foi. low him speedily with an army from Temora. Such was the situation of affairs when the Caledonian invaders appeared on the coast of Ulster. -

The poem opens in the morning. Cairbar is represented as retired from the rest of the army, when one of his scouts brought him news of the landing of Fingal. He assembles a council of his chiefs. Foldath, the chief of Moma, haughtily despises the enemy; and is reprimanded warmly by Malthos. Cairbar, after hearing their debate, orders a feast to be prepared, to which, oy his bard Olla, he invites, Oscar, the son of an; resolving to pick a quarrel with that hero, and so have some pretext for #. ing him. Oscar, came to the feast; the quarrel happened; the §. of both fought, and Cairbar and Oscar fell by mutual wounds. The noise of the battle reached Fingal's army. The king came on to the relief of Oscar, and the Irish fell back to the army of Cathmor, who was advanced to the banks of the river Lubar, on the heath of Moi-lena. Fingal, after mourning over his grandson, ordered Ullin, the chief of his oards, to carry his body to Morven, to be there interred. Night coming on, Althan, the son of Conachar, relates to the king the particulars of the murder of Cormac. Fillan, the son of Fingal, is sent to observe the motions of Cathmor, by night, which concludes the action of the first day. The scene of this book is a plain, near the hill ol Mora, which rose on the borders of the heath of Moi-lena in Ulster

The blue waves of Erin roll in light. The moun.

tains are covered with day. Trees shake their dusky heads in the breeze. Gray torrents pour their noisy

[ocr errors]

streams. Two green hills, with aged oaks, surround a
narrow plain. The blue course of a stream is there
On its banks stood Cairbar of Atha. His spear sup-
ports the king: the red eye of his fear is sad. Cormac
rises in his soul, with all his ghastly wounds. The gray
form of the youth appears in darkness. Blood pours
from his airy side. Cairbar thrice threw his spear on
earth. Thrice he stroked his beard. His steps are
short. He often stops. He tosses his sinewy arms.
He is like a cloud in the desert, varying its form to
every blast. The valleys are sad around, and fear, by
turns, the shower! The king at length resumed his
soul. He took his pointed spear. He turned his eye
to Moi-lena. The scouts of blue ocean came. They
came with steps of fear, and often looked behind.
Cairbar knew that the mighty were near. He called
his gloomy chiefs.
The sounding steps of his warriors came. They
drew at once their swords. There Moruth stood with
darkened face. Hidalla's long hair sighs in the wind.
Red-haired Cormar bends on his spear, and rolls his
sidelong-looking eyes. Wild is the look of Malthos,
from beneath two shaggy brows. Foldath stands, like
an oozy rock, that covers its dark sides with foam.
His spear is like Slimora's fir, that meets the wind of
heaven. His shield is marked with the strokes of
battle. His red eye despises danger. These, and a
thousand other chiefs, surrounded the king of Erin,
when the scout of ocean came, Mor-annal, from streamy
Moi-lena. His eyes hang forward from his face. His
lips are trembling pale !
“1jo the chiefs of Erin stand,” he said, “silent as
the grove of evening 7 Stand they, like a silent wood,
and Fingal on the coast ! Fingal, who is terrible in
battle, the king of streamy Morven l’” “Hast thou
seen the warrior to said Cairbar with a sigh. “Are


« PreviousContinue »