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ARGUMENT.-REFLECTIONS on the poet's youth. An apostrophe to Selma. Oscar obtains leave to go to Inis-thona, an island of Scandinavia. The mournful story of Argon and Ruro, the two sons of the king of Inis-thona. Oscar revenges their death, and returns in triumph to Selma. A soliloquy by the poet himself.
WAR OF INIS-THONA.
OUR youth is like the dream of the hunter on the hill of heath. He sleeps in the mild beams of the sun; he awakes amidst a storm; the red lightning flies around: 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? When 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! listen to the voice of Ossian. The song rises, like the sun, in my soul. I feel the joys of other times.
I behold thy towers, O Selma! the oaks of thy shaded wall: thy streams sound in my ear; thy heroes gather around. Fingal sits in the midst. He leans on the shield of Trenmor: his spear stands against the wall; he listens to the songs of his bards. The deeds of his arm are heard; 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
*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 handed down by tradition, and his hospitality has passed into a proverb.
THE WAR OF INIS-THONA:
filled with tears. Red was the 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 in your youth; your names are renowned in song. Oscar is like "the mist of Cona; I appear and vanish away. "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 Inis-thona. "Distant is the land of my war! ye shall not hear "of Oscar's fall: some bard may find me there; "some bard may give my name to 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; thou art of the race of renown! Let not the children of stran
gers say, feeble are the sons of Morven ! Be thou, ❝in battle, a roaring storm: mild as the evening "sun in peace! Tell, Oscar, to Inis-thona'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 lash the oozy rocks: the strength of ocean roars. My son beheld, from the wave, the land of groves. He rushed into Runa's sounding bay, and sent his sword to Annir of spears. The greyhaired hero rose, when he saw the sword of Fingal. His eyes were full of tears; he remembered his battles in youth. Twice had they lifted the spear before the lovely Agandecca: heroes stood far distant, as if two spirits were striving in winds.
"But now," began the king, "I am old; the "sword lies useless in my hall. Thou, who art "of Morven's race! Annir has seen the battle of
spears; but now he is pale and withered, like the "oak of Lano. I have no son to meet thee with 'joy, to bring 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: she longs "to behold my tomb. Her spouse shakes ten "thousand spears; he comest a cloud of death
from Lano. Come, to share the feast of Annir, "son of echoing Morven!"
* Leather thongs were used among the Celtic nations, instead of ropes.
+ Cormalo had resolved on a war against his father-in-law, Annir, king of Inis-thona, in order to deprive him of his kingdom: the in justice of his designs was so much resented by Fingal, that he sent his grandson, Oscar, to the assistance of Annir. Both armies came soon to a battle, in which the conduct and valour of Oscar obtained a complete victory. An end was put to the war by the death of Cormalo, who fell in a single combat, by Oscar's hand. Thus is the story de Kvered down by tradition; though the poet, to raise the character of his son, makes Oscar himself propose the expedition.
Three days they feasted together; on the fourth, Annir heard the name of Oscar. They rejoiced in the shell.* They pursued the boars of Runa. Beside the fount of mossy stones, the weary heroes rest. The tear steals in secret from Annir: 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 desert rise?"
"King of Inis-thona," said Oscar," how fell "the children of youth? The wild boar rushes 66 over their tombs, but he does not disturb their "repose. They pursue deert 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 a chief of "ten thousand spears. He dwells at the waters "of Lano, which sends forth the vapour of "death. He came to Runa's echoing halls, and
*To rejoice in the shell, is a phrase for feasting sumptuously and drinking freely.
+ 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 souls pursued, in their separate state, the employments and pleasures of their former life.
days of Os
And thou, O
Lano was a lake of Scandinavia, remarkable, in the sian, for emitting a pestilential vapour in autumn. valiant Duchomar! like the mist of marshy Lano; when it sails over the plains of autumn, and brings death to the host. Fingal, B. I.