Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub
[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT.CAIRBAR, the son 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 lineally 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 behaviour 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 follow him speedily with an army from Temora. Such was the situation of affairs when the Caledonian invaders appear

ed 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, by his bard Olla, he invites Oscar the son of Ossian; resolving to pick a quarrel with that hero, and so have some pretext for killing him. Oscar came to the feast : the quarrel happened; the followers 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 bards 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 of Mora, which rose on the borders of the heath of Moi-lena in Ulster.

THE blue waves of Erin roll in light. The mountains are covered with day. Trees shake

their dusky heads in the breeze. Grey torrents pour their noisy 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 supports the king: the red eye of his fear is sad. Cormac rises in his soul, with all his ghastly wounds. The grey 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 arvis. 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 the swords. There Morlatht 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

* Cairbar, the son of Borbar-duthul, was descended lineally from Lathon the chief of the Fir-bolg, the first colony who settled in the south of Ireland. The Cael were in possession of the northern coast of that kingdom, and the first monarchs of Ireland were of their race. Hence arose those differences between the two nations, which terminated, at last, in the murder of Cormac, and the usurpation of Cairbar, lord of Atha, who is mentioned in this place.

† Mórlath, greet in the day of battle. Hidalla', mildly looking hero. Cor-mar, expert at sea. Mál-thos, slow to speak. Foldath, generous.

Foldath, who is here strongly markeri, makes a great figure in the sequel of the poem. His fierce, uncomplying character is sustained throughout. He seems, from a passage iu the second book, to have

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, Morannal,* from streamy Moi-lena. His eyes hang forward from his face. His lips are trembling pale!

“Do the chiefs of Erin stand," he said, "silent " as the grove of evening? Stand they, like a si“lent wood, and Fingal on the coast? Fingal, who “ is terrible in battle, the king of streamy Mor

“ Hast thou seen the warrior?” said Cairbar with a sigh.

“ Are his heroes many on " the coast? Lifts he the spear of battle? Or

comes the king in peace?" “ In peace he comes not, king of Erin! have seen his forward spear.t It is a meteor of death. The blood

ven!

been Cairbar's greatest confidant, and to have had a principal hand in the conspiracy against Cormac king of Ireland. His tribe was one of the most considerable of the race of the Fir-bolg.

* Mórannal, strong breath; a very proper name for a scout.

† Mor-annal here alludes to the particular appearance of Fingal's spear. If a man upon his first landing in a strange country, kept the point of his spear forward, it denoted in those days that he came in a hostile manner, and accordingly he was treated as an enemy; it he kept the point behind him, it was a token of friendship, and he was immediately invited to the feast, according to the hospitality of the times: VOL. II.

S

« VorigeDoorgaan »