Clun-galo* came; she missed the maid. Where "art thou, beam of light? Hunters, from the mossy rock, saw ye the blue-eyed fair? Are her


[ocr errors]

steps on grassy Lumon; near the bed of roes? "Ah me! I behold her bow in the hall. Where "art thou, beam of light?"

"Cease,+ love of Conmor, cease; I hear thee "not on the ridgy heath. My eye is turned to "the king, whose path is terrible in war. He for "whom my soul is up in the season of my rest.

Deep-bosomed in war he stands, he beholds me "not from his cloud. Why, sun of Sul-malla, "dost thou not look forth? I dwell in darkness "here; wide over me flies the shadowy mist. Fil"led with dew are my locks: look thou from thy "cloud, O sun of Sul-malla's soul!"

* Clun-galo, the wife of Conmor, king of Inis-huna, and the mother of Sul-malla. She is here represented as missing her daughter, after she had fled with Cathmor.

+Sul-malla replies to the supposed questions of her mother. Towards the middle of this paragragh she calls Cathmor the sun of her soul, and continues the metaphor throughout. This book ends, we may suppose, about the middle of the third night, from the opening of the poem:



ARGUMENT.-THIS book begins about the middle of the third night from the opening of the poem. The poet describes a kind of mist, which rose by night from the lake of Lego, and was the usual residence of the souls of the dead, during the interval between their decease and the funeral song. The appearance of the ghost of Fillan above the cave where his body lay. His voice comes to Fingal, on the rock of Cormul. The king strikes the shield of Trenmor, which was an infallible sign of his appearing in arms himself. The extraordinary effect of the sound of the shield. Sul-malla, starting from sleep, awakes Cathmor. Their affecting discourse. She insists with him to sue for peace; he resolves to continue the war. He directs her to retire to the neighbouring valley of Lona, which was the residence of an old Druid, until the battle of the next day should be over. awakes his army with the sound of his shield. The shield described. Fonar, the bard, at the desire of Cathmor, relates the first settlement of the Fir-bolg in Ireland, under their leader Larthon. Morning comes. Sulmalla retires to the valley of Lona. A lyric song conIcludes the book.


FROM the wood-skirted waters of Lego, ascend, at times, grey-bosomed mists; when the gates of the west are closed, on the sun's eagle eye. Wide over Lara's stream, is poured the vapour dark and deep: the moon, like a dim shield, is swimming through its folds. With this clothe the spirits of old their sudden gestures on the wind, when they stride, from blast to blast, along the dusky night. Often, blended with the gale, to

[ocr errors]

some warrior's grave, they roll the mist, a grey dwelling to his ghost, until the songs arise.

A sound came from the desert; it was Conar, king of Inis-fail. He poured his mist on the grave of Fillan, at blue-winding Lubar. Dark and mournful sat the ghost, in his grey ridge of smoke. The blast, at times, rolled him together: but the form returned again. It returned with bending eyes, and dark winding of locks of mist.

It was dark. The sleeping host were still in the skirts of night. The flame decayed, on the hill of Fingal; the king lay lonely on his shield. His eyes were half-closed in sleep: the voice of Fillan came. "6 'Sleeps the husband of Clatho! "Dwells the father of the fallen in rest? Am I forgot in the folds of darkness; lonely in the season of night?"


*As the mist, which rose from the lake of Lego, occasioned diseases and death, the bards feigned that it was the residence of the ghosts of the deceased, during the interval between their death, and the pronouncing their funeral elegy over their tombs; for it was not allowable, without that ceremony was performed, for the spirits of the dead to mix with their ancestors in their airy halls. It was the business of the spirit of the nearest relation to the deceased, to take the mist of Lego, and pour it over the grave. We find here Conar, the son of Trenmor, the first king of Ireland, performing this office for Fillan, as it was in the cause of the family of Conar that that hero was killed.

+ The following is the singular sentiment of a frigid bard.

"More pleasing to me is the night of Cona, dark-streaming from "Ossian's harp; more pleasant is it to me, than a white-bosomed "dweller between my arms; than a fair-handed daughter of heroes, "in the hour of rest."

Though tradition is not very satisfactory concerning the history of this poet, it has taken care to inform us that he was very old when he wrote the distich, a circumstance which we might have supposed without the aid of tradition.

"Why dost thou mix," said the king, "with "the dreams of thy father? Can I forget thee, "my son, or thy path of fire in the field? Not "such come the deeds of the valiant on the soul "of Fingal. They are not there a beam of lightning, which is seen, and is then no more. "remember thee, O Fillan! and my wrath begins "to rise."

[ocr errors]


The king took his deathful spear, and struck the deeply-sounding shield: his shield that hung high in night, the dismal sign of war! Ghosts fled on every side, and rolled their gathered forms on the wind. Thrice from the winding vale arose the voice of deaths. The harps * of the bards untouched, sound mournful over the hill.

He struck again the shield: battles rose in the dreams of his host. The wide-tumbling strife is gleaming over their souls. Blue-shielded kings descend to war. Backward-looking armies fly; and mighty deeds are half-hid in the bright gleams of steel.

But when the third sound arose, deer started from the clefts of their rocks. The screams of

* It was the opinion of ancient times, that, on the night preceding the death of a person worthy and renowned, the harps of those bards, who were retained by his family, emitted melancholy sounds. This was attributed to the light touch of ghosts; who were supposed to have a foreknowledge of events. The same opinion prevailed long in the north, and the particular sound was called the warning voice of the dead. The voice of death, mentioned in the preceding sentence, was of a different kind. Each person was supposed to have an attendant spirit, who assumed his form and voice, on the night preceding his death, and appeared, to some, in the attitude in which the person was to die. The voices of death were the foreboding shricks of those spirits.

fowl are heard, in the desert, as each flew, frighted on his blast. The sons of Selma half-rose, and half-assumed their spears. But silence rolled back on the host; they knew the shield of the king. Sleep returned to their eyes; the field was dark and still.

No Sleep was thine in darkness, blue-eyed daughter of Conmor! Sul-malla heard the dreadful shield, and rose, amid the night. Her steps are towards the king of Atha. "Can danger "shake his daring soul!" In doubt, she stands, with bending eyes. Heaven burns with all its


Again the shield resounds! She rushed. She stopt. Her voice half-rose. It failed. She saw him, amidst his arms, that gleamed to heaven's fire. She saw him dark in his locks, that rose to nightly wind. Away, for fear, she turned her steps. "Why should the king of Erin awake? "Thou art not a dream to his rest, daughter of "Inis-huna."

More dreadful rings the shield. Sul-malla starts. Her helmet falls. Loud echoes Lubar's rock, as over it rolls the steel. Bursting from the dreams of night, Cathmor half-rose, beneath his He saw the form of the maid, above him, on the rock. A red star, with twinkling beam, looked through her floating hair.


[ocr errors]

"Who comes through night to Cathmor, in the

season of his dreams? Bring'st thou aught of

« VorigeDoorgaan »