Page images

Now dark and deep, with all his steeds, Caros rolled his might along : the little streams are lost in his course; and the earth is rocking round. Battle spreads from wing to wing : ten thousand swords gleam at once in the sky. But why should Ossian sing of battles ? For never more shall my steel shine in war. I remember the days of my youth with sorrow, when I feel the weakness of my ari. Happy are they who fell in their youth; in the midst of their renown! They have not beheld the tombs of their friends : or failed to bend the bow of their strength. Happy art thou, O Oscar, in the midst of thy rushing blast. Thou often goest to the fields of thy fame, where Caros fled from thy lifted sword.

Darkness comes on my soul, O fair daughter of Toscar; I behold not the form of my son at Carun, nor the figure of Oscar on Crona. The rustling winds have carried him far away; and the heart of his father is sad.

But lead me, O Malvina, to the sound of my woods, and the roar of my mountain-streams. Let the chase be heard on Cona; that I may think on the days of other years. And bring me the harp, O maid, that I may touch it when the light of my soul shall arise. Be thou near, to learn the song; and future times shall hear of Ossian.

The sons of the feeble hereafter will lift the voice on Cona; and, looking up to the rocks, say, “Here Ossian dwelt." . They shall admire the chiefs of old, and the race that are no more ; while we ride on our clouds, Malvina, on the wings of the roaring winds. Our voices shall be heard, at times, in the desart; and we shall sing on the winds of the rock.




The argument.

This poem is an episode, introduced in a great work composed by Ossian, in which the i actions of his friends, and his beloved son Oscar, were interwoven. The work itself is

lost, but some episodes, and the story of the poem, are handed down by tradition. Inisthona was an island of Scandinavia, subject to its own king, but depending upon the kingdom of Lochlin.

Our youth is like the dream of the hunter on the hill of heath. He sleeps in the mild beams of the sun; but he awakes amidst a storm, the red lightning flies around: and the trees shake their heads to the wind. He looks back with joy on the day of the sun, and the pleasant dreams of his rest!

When shall Ossian's youth return, or his ear delight in the sound of arms ? When, shall I, like Oscar, travel in the light of my steel? Come, with your streams, ye hills of Cona, and listen to the voice of Ossian! The song rises, like the sun, in my soul : and my heart feels the joys of other times.

I behold thy towers, O Selma ! and the oaks of thy shaded wall : thy streams sound in my ear; thy heroes gather round. Fingal sits in the midst; and leans on the shield of Trenmor: his spear stands against the wall; he listens to the song of his bards. The deeds of his arm are heard ; and the actions of the king in his youth.

Oscar had returned from the chase, and heard the hero's praise. He took the shield of Branno“ from the wall ; his eyes were filled with tears. Red was the

This is Branno, the father of Everallin and grandfather to Oscar; he was of Irish extraction, and lord of the country round the lake of Lego. His great actions are



cheek of youth. His voice was trembling low. My spear shook its bright head in his hand; he spoke to Morven's king.

“ Fingal : thou king of heroes! Ossian, next to him in war! ye have fought the battle in your youth ; your names are renowned in song. Oscar is like the mist of Cona: I appear and vanish. The bard will not know my name. The hunter will not search in the heath for my tomb. Let me fight, O heroes, in the battles of Inisthona. Distant is the land of my war! Ye shall not hear of Oscar's fall. Some bard may find me there, and give my name to the song. The daughter of the stranger shall see my tomb, and weep over the youth that came from afar. The bard shall say at the feast, hear the song of Oscar from the distant land.”

" Oscar," replied the king of Morven; “ thou shalt fight, son of my fame! Prepare my dark-bosomed ship to carry my hero to Inis-thona. Son of my son, regard our fame; for thou art of the race of renown. Let not the children of strangers say, feeble are the sons of Morven! Be thou in battle, like the roaring storm: mild as the evening sun in peace. Tell, Oscar, to Inisthona's king, that Fingal remembers his youth; when we strove in the combat together in the days of Agandecca."

They lifted up the sounding sail; the wind whistled through the thongs of their masts. Waves lashed the oozy rocks : the strength of ocean roared. My son beheld, from the wave, the land of groves. He rushed into the echoing bay of Runa ; and sent his sword to Annir king of spears. The grey-haired hero rose, when 'he saw the sword of Fingal. His eyes were full of tears; and he remembered the battles of their youth. Twice they lifted the spear before the lovely Agandecca: heroes stood far distant, as if two ghosts contended.

" But now," begun the king, “ I am old; the sword lies useless in my hall. Thou art of Morven's race: annir has been in the strife of spears; but he is pale

Leather thongs were used in Ossian'a time instead of ranet

and withered now, like the oak of Lano. I have no son to meet thee with joy, or to carry thee to the halls of his fathers. Argon is pale in the tomb, and Ruro is no more. My daughter is in the hall of strangers, and longs to behold my tomb. Her spouse shakes ten thousand spears; and comes like a cloud of death from Lano. Come thou to share the feast of Annir, son of echoing Morven."

Three days they feasted together; on the fourth Annir heard the name of Oscard. They rejoiced in the shell e; and pursued the bears of Runa. Beside the fount of mossy stones, the weary heroes rest. The tear steals in secret from Annir: and he broke the rising sigh. “ Here darkly rest," the hero said, “ the children of my youth. This stone is the tomb of Ruro: that tree sounds over the grave of Argon. Do ye hear my voice, O my sons, within your narrow house? Or do ye speak in these rustling leaves, when the winds of the desart rise?

“ King of Inis-thona," said Oscar, “ how fell the children of youth? The wild boar often rushes over their tombs, but he does not disturb the hunters. They pursue deerf formed of clouds, and bend their airy-bow. They still love the sport of their youth; and mount the wind with joy.”

“ Cormalo," replied the king, “ is chief of ten thou. sand spears ; he dwells as the dark-rolling waters of Lano&; which send forth the cloud of death. He came to Runa's echoing halls, and sought the honour of the

.cCormalo had resolved on a war against his father-in-law, Annir, king of Inis-thona, in order lu deprive him of his kingdom. The injustice of his designs was so much resented by Fingal, that he sent his { andson Oscar, to the assistance of Annir. Both armies came to a battle, in which the conduct and valour of Oscar obtained a completvictory. An end was put to the war by the death of Cormalo, who fell in a single come bat, by Oscar's hand. Thus is the story delivered down by tradition, though the poet, to raise the character of his son, makes Oscar bir zelf propose the expedition.

d It was thought, in those days of heroism, an infringement upon the laws of hospi tality, to ask the name of a stranger, before he had feasted three days in the great hall of the family. He that asks the name of a stranger,' is to this day, an approbrious term, applied, in the north, to the in hospitable.

To rejoice in the shell' is a phrase for feasting sumptuously, and drinking freely. J. The notion of Ossian concerning the state of the deceased, was the same with that of the ancient Greeks and Romans. They imagined that the soul pursued, in their separate state, the employments and pleasures of their former life.

& Lano was a lake of Scandinavia, remarkable in the days of Ossian, for enitting a pestilential vapour in autumn. " And thou, valiant Duchomar, like the mist of ma... Shy Lano, when it sails over the plains of autumn, and brings death to the peop Yingal, B. 1

spear". The youth was lovely as the first beam of the sun! and few were they who could meet him in fight! My heroes yielded to Cormalo : and my daughter loveed the son of Lano. Argon and Ruro returned from the chase; the tears of their pride descended. They rolled their silent eyes on Runa's heroes, because they yielded to a stranger: three days they feasted with Cornalo : on the fourth my Argon fought. But who could fight with Argon ? Lano's chief was overcome. His heart swelled with the grief of pride, and he resolved in secret to behold the death of my sons. They went to the hills of Runa, and pursued the dark-brown hinds. The arrow of Cormalo flew in secret ; and my children fell. He came to the maid of his love ; to Inis-thona's dark-haired maid. They Red over the de. sart, and Annir remained alone. Night came on, and day appeared ; nor Argon's voice, nor Ruro's came. At length their much-loved dog is seen; the feet and bounding Runar. He came into the hall and howled; and seemed to look towards the place of their fall. We followed him: we found them there : and laid them by this mossy stream. This is the haunt of Annir, when the chase of the hinds is over. I bend like the trunk of an aged oak above them; and my tears for ever flow.”

" O Ronnan !" said the rising Oscar, “ Ogar king of spears! call my heroes to my side, the sons of streamy Morven. To-day we go to Lano's water that sends forth the cloud of death. Cormalo will not long rejoice : death is often at the point of our swords."

They came over the desart like stormy clouds, when the winds roll them over the heath : their edges are tinged with lightning: and the echoing groves foresee the storm. The born of Oscar's battle was heard; and Lano shook in all its waves. The children of the lake convened around the sounding shield of Cormalo. Oscar fought, as he was wont in battle, Cormalo fell beneath his swords; and the sons of the dismal Lano fled to their secret vales. Oscar brought the daugh. b By the honour of the spear is meant a kind of tournament practised among the af

« PreviousContinue »