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Not darker looks the sun, when tempests shroud
His blazing forehead in a show'ry cloud.
Dar-thula soon perceived his alter'd mien,
And frighten'd cried, what has my Nathos seen?
My eyes' delight, my last and only hope,
Be not depress'd, nor let thy courage droop!
Of father, brother, kindred, all bereft,
Thee if I lose, I then am wholly left.
Except the mournful torrent's solemn fall, ■
No noise is heard around Selama's hall:
The natives all engag'd on Cormac's side,'
Assertors of his right, in battle died.
When first the news of their defeat was brought, •
What anguish stung, what terror fill'd my thought!
'Twas eve; and by degrees, as night prevail'd,
The streams, the plains, and varied landscape fail'd.
A sudden blast, descending from above
Made high Selama's rustling forests move.
Beneath a spreading oak I had my seat,
Revolving, sad in mind, the people's fate,
Who led by Truthil and my sire afar,
Were then in distant regions waging war.
As there I sat, a man in arms drew near, • ■
It prov'd my father bending on his spear.
His head a helmet bore, his side a blade.
Perceiving me, he stoop'd, but nothing said.
For his son's death, the ruin of his kind,
Confused his thought and overwhelm'd~ his mind.
At length tears eas'd his heart, and words found way,
When thus he told the slaughter of the day.
Dar-thula is the last of Colla's line,
No pledge of love, no other child is mine!
On Ullin's plain my only son lies dead,
With all our bravest warriors round him spread?
And bloody Cairbar hastens with his pow'rs
To take possession of Selama's tow'rs,
I with the remnant of our clan will try
Once more the fight, and venge my son, or die.
But ah my daughter! thou art passing fair,
In easy ringlets waves thy curling hair!
Where, when thy aged guardian is no more,
Shalt thou from hostile insult be secure?
And is young Truthil fall'n, I sighing cried;
The first of Cormac's friends, the soldier's pride?
For ever hath that ardent spirit ceas'd,
That urg'd to gallant deeds his dauntless breast?
No season this for me thy fears to shew;
Dar-thula trusts to her unerring bow,
Which faithful to her aim hath prov'd her skill,
And pierc'd afar the roe-bucks of the hill.
Like them, if Cairbar has a mortal part,
A shaft will find the passage to his heart.
The gray-hair'd warrior's face with transport glow'd, A show'r of gushing tears his cheeks overflow'd,
His quiv'ring lips betray'd ecstatic joy;
In thee he said, I recognise my boy:
Like him thou speak'st, like him supremely brave,
Thou scorn'st to live the proud usurper's slave.
As courage prompts thee to the sanguine field,
Receive this spear, this helm, and shining shield;
They were a youthful warrior's light attire,
Despoil'd in fight, nor strength to bear require,
When early dawn has purpled o'er the sky,
I mean again the tyrant to defy.
Behind my shield, be near thy father's side;
His arm could for thy safety once provide;
But trembling now beneath a load of years,
Harass'd and broken with incessant cares,
He finds his vigour gone, his frame decay'd,
And of the man he was is scarce the shade.
We pass'd away in sad discourse the night;
But morn no sooner beam'd refulgent bright,
Than, rising with the sun, I shone in arms, .
And follow'd aged Colla to th' alarms.
He struck his bossy shield, and to the sound
The sons of high Selama gather'd round.
Yet muster'd on the plain they seem'd but few,
Those likewise grey, and ill accoutred too;
For all the young and most approv'd for might,
Had fall'n with Truthil in the former fight.
Comrades of youth,, my sire, address'd the train,
Another man you saw me tread the plain,
Another man I charg'd the warring bands, .
When great Confadan fell beneath these hands.
Now their own weight my limbs can scarcely bear,
You too since then far other men appear.
For time, like mists that wrap in night the vales,
Keeps moving on, and misery entails.
I little dreamt the ev'njrig of my life
Would prove thus turbulent and full of strife; i
But hop'd, that like the sun's departing ray,
My latter days would peaceful pass away.
Wherefore my sword, as useless, had laid by,
And in the hall my buckler hung on high. _i
When lo! around condensing vapours form.;
A night of clouds, and sudden bursts the storm:
While I decrepit, like an aged oak,
Too feeble to endure so rude a shock,
O'erwhelm'd must fall, and press the fatal plain :\
Already loaded with my people slain. .•,
O Truthil, son beloved! where dost thou dwell,
1 ,T- . .. f
With all the gallant Chiefs that round thee fell? . \
Thou answer's! not; and silent pass in air, , . ; •
Regardless of the heavy ills I bear. . .; .
But now th' important hour impends, when I,
Or he, the cause accurs'd of all, shall die,
No more—my heart beats high, my strength returns,
And eager for the fight my bosom burns.
He said, and rushing on, his falchion drew;
The bold example all his host pursue,
•flash, as they wave, their brandish'd swords in air,
And streams upon the whistling wind their hair.
We march'd not far, befqre we Cairbar found
On Lona feasting with his warrior's round.
Surprised at our approach, the banquet ceased,
And summon'd to the field, all rose in haste.
We fought—but why on battles dwell, and arms
To him, whom I have seen amidst alarms,
Destructive as the lightnings of the sky,
When bright but terrible, they dart from high,
And in their course the blasted nations die.
His eager jav'lin first my father threw,
Then drew his sword, and midst the thickest flew.
Where'er he turn'd the blood in streams pursu'd;
He could no more had youth his arm endued;
Till from a hand unknown, with hissing sound,
An arrow came, and stretch'd him on the ground.
His death my startled soul with horror chill'd,
I forward sprang, and o'er him spread my shield.
In this heroic act of duteous care
I must have fall'n, had not my breasts left bare
Betray'd my sex; when Cairbar, at the sight,
Restrain'd his men, and stopt the furious fight.
A sumptuous tomb was rais'd above the dead,
And I triumphant to Selama led: