« VorigeDoorgaan »
I hid them with my aged locks. The king perceived my grief." Son of Conachar!" he said, "is the son of Semo* low? Why bursts the sigh in secret? Why descends the tear? Comes the car-borne Torlath? Comes the sound of red-haired Cairbar? They come! for I behold thy grief. Mossy Tura's chief is low! Shall I not rush to battle? But I cannot lift the spear! O had mine arm the strength of Cuthullin, soon would Cairbar fly; the fame of my fathers would be renewed; and the deeds of other times!"
He took his bow. The tears flow down, from both his sparkling eyes. Grief saddens round. The bards bend forward, from their hundred harps. The lone blast touched their trembling strings. The sound † is sad and low! A voice is heard at a distance, as of one in grief. It was Carril of other times, who came from dark Slimora. He told of the fall of Cuthullin. He told of his mighty deeds. The people were scattered round his tomb. Their arms lay on the ground. They had forgot the war, for he, their fire, was seen no more!
* Cuthullin is called the king of Tura from a castle of that name on the coast of Ulster, where he dwelt, before he undertook the management of the affairs of Ireland, in the minority of Cormac.
+ That prophetic sound, mentioned in other poems, which the harps of the bards emitted before the death of a person worthy and renowned. It is here an omen of the death of Cormac, which, soon after, followed.
Slimora, a hill in Connaught, near which Cuthullin was
"But who," said the soft-voiced Carril, "who come like bounding roes? Their stature is like young trees in the valley, growing in a shower! Soft and ruddy are their cheeks! Fearless souls look forth from their eyes ! Who but the sons of Usnoth,* chief of streamy Etha? The people rise on every side, like the strength of an half-extinguished fire, when the winds come, sudden, from the desert, on their rustling wings. Sudden glows the dark brow of the hill; the passing mariner lags, on his winds. The sound of Caithbat's shield was heard. The warriors saw Cuthullin in Nathos. So rolled his sparkling eyes! his steps were such on heath! Battles are fought at Lego. The sword of Nathos prevails. Soon shalt thou behold him in thy halls, king of Temora of groves!"
*Usnoth chief of Etha, a district on the western coast of Scotland, had three sons, Nathos, Althos, and Ardan, by Slissáma the sister of Cuthullin. The three brothers, when very young, were sent over to Ireland by their father, to learn the use of arms under their uncle, whose military fame was very great in that kingdom. They had just arrived in Ulster when the news of Cuthullin's death arrived. Nathos, the eldest of the three brothers, took the command of Cuthullin's army, and made head against Cairbar the chief of Atha. Cairbar having, at last, murdered young king Cormac, at Temora, the army of Nathos shifted sides, and the brothers were obliged to return into Ulster, in order to pass over into Scotland. The sequel of their mournful story is related, at large, in the poem of Dar-thula.
+ Caithbait was grandfather to Cuthullin; and his shield was made use of to alarm his posterity to the battles of the family.
That is, they saw a manifest likeness between the person of Nathos and Cuthullin.
"Soon may I behold the chief!" replied the blueeyed king. "But my soul is sad for Cuthullin. His voice was pleasant in mine ear. Often have we moved, on Dora, to the chace of the dark-brown hinds. His bow was unerring on the hills. He spoke of mighty men. He told of the deeds of my fathers. I felt my rising joy. But sit thou at the feast, O Carril! I have often heard thy voice. Sing in praise of Cuthullin. Sing of Nathos of Etha !"*
Day rose on Temora, with all the beams of the east. Crathin came to the hall, the son of old Gelláma.† I behold," he said, (6 a cloud in the desert, king of Erin! a cloud it seemed at first, but now a crowd of men! One strides before them in his strength. His red hair flies in wind. His shield glitters to the beam of the east. His is in his hand." "Call spear him to the feast of Temora," replied the brightening king. My hall is the house of strangers, son of generous Gelláma! It is perhaps the chief of Etha, coming in all his renown. Hail, mighty stranger! art thou of the friends of Cormac? But Carril, he is dark, and unlovely. He draws his sword. Is that the son of Usnoth, bard of the times of old?"
"It is not the son of Usnoth !" said Carril. is Cairbar thy foe. Why comest thou in thy arms to Temora chief of the gloomy brow. Let not thy
* Nathos the son of Usnoth. + Geal-lamha, white handed.
From this expression, we understand, that Cairbar had entered the palace of Temora, in the midst of Cormac's speech.
sword rise against Cormac! Whither dost thou turn thy speed?" He passed on in darkness. He seized the hand of the king. Cormac foresaw his death; the rage of his eyes arose. Retire, thou chief of Atha! Nathos comes with war. Thou art bold in Cormac's hall, for his arm is weak." tered the side of the king. He fell in the halls of his fathers. His fair hair is in the dust. His blood is smoaking round.
The sword en
"Art thou fallen in thy halls ?"* said Carril. "O son of noble Artho! The shield of Cuthullin was not near. Nor the spear of thy father. Mournful are the mountains of Erin, for the chief of the people is low! Blest be thy soul, O Cormac! Thou art darkened in thy youth."
His words came to the ears of Cairbar. He closed+ us in the midst of darkness. He feared to stretch his sword to the bards, though his soul was dark. Long we pined alone! At length, the noble Cathmor|| came. He heard our voice from the cave. He turned the eye of his wrath on Cairbar.
* Althan speaks.
+That is, himself and Carril, as it afterwards appears.
The persons of the bards were so sacred, that even he, who had just murdered his sovereign, feared to kill them.
|| Cathmor appears the same disinterested hero upon every occasion. His humanity and generosity were unparalleled : in short, he had no fault, but too much attachment to so bad a brother as Cairbar. His family connection with Cairbar prevails, as he expresses it, over every other consideration, and makes him engage in a war, of which he does not approve.
"Brother of Cathmor," he said, "how long wilt thou pain my soul? Thy heart is a rock. Thy thoughts are dark and bloody! But thou art the brother of Cathmor; and Cathmor shall shine in thy war. But my soul is not like thine: thou feeble hand in fight! The light of my bosom is stained with thy deeds. Bards will not sing of my renown: They may say, 'Cathmor was brave, but he fought for gloomy Cairbar.' They will pass over my tomb in silence. My fame shall not be heard. Cairbar! loose the bards. They are the sons of future times. Their voice shall be heard in other years; after the kings of Temora have failed. We came forth at the words of the chief. We saw him in his strength. He was like thy youth, O Fingal! when thou first didst lift the spear. His face was like the plain of the sun, when it is bright. No darkness travelled over his brow. But he came with his thousands to aid the red-haired Cairbar. Now he comes to revenge his death, O king of woody Morven !"
"Let Cathmor come," replied the king. "I love a foe so great. His soul is bright. His arm is strong. His battles are full of fame. But the little soul is a vapour that hovers round the marshy lake. It never rises on the green hill, lest the winds should meet it there. Its dwelling is in the cave, it sends forth the dart of death! Our young heroes, O warriors! are like the renown of our fathers. They fight in youth. They fall. Their names are in song. Fingal is amid