Croma: A Poem.Display note
It was the voice of my love! few are his visits to the dreams of Malvina! Open your airy halls, ye fathers of mighty Toscar. Unfold the gates of your clouds; the steps of Malvina's departure are near. I have heard a voice in my dream. I feel the sluttering of my soul. Why didst thou come, O blast, from the dark-rolling of the lake? Thy rustling wing was in the trees, the dream of Malvina departed. But she beheld her love, when his robe of mist flew on the wind; the beam of the sun was on his skirts, they glittered like the gold of the stranger. It was the voice of my love! few are his visits to my dreams![ 250 ] View Page Image
But thou dwellest in the soul of Malvina, son of mighty Ossian. My sighs arise with the beam of the east; my tears descend with the drops of night. I was a lovely tree, in thy presence, Oscar, with all my branches round me; but thy death came like a blast from the desart, and laid my green head low; the spring returned with its showers, but no leaf of mine arose. The virgins saw me silent in the hall, and they touched the harp of joy. The tear was on the cheek of Malvina: the virgins beheld me in my grief. Why art thou sad, they said, thou first of the maids of Lutha? Was he lovely as the beam of the morning, and stately in thy sight?
Pleasant is thy song in Ossian's ear, daughter of streamy Lutha! Thou hast heard the music of departed bards in the dream of thy rest, when sleep fell on thine eyes, at the murmur of MoruthDisplay note. When thou didst return from the chase, in the day of the sun, thou hast heard the music of the bards, and thy song is lovely. It is lovely, O Malvina, but it melts the soul. There is a joy in grief when peace dwells in the breast of the sad. But sorrow wastes the mournful, O daughter of Toscar, and their days are few. They fall away, like the flower on which the sun looks in his strength after the mildew has passed over it, and its head is heavy with the drops of night. Attend to the tale of Ossian, O maid; he remembers the days of his youth.
The king commanded; I raised my sails, and rushed into the bay of Croma; into Croma's founding bay in lovely InisfailDisplay note High on the coast arose the towers of Crothar king of spears; Crothar renowned in the battles of his youth; but age dwelt then around the chief. Rothmar raised the sword against the hero; and the [ 251 ] View Page Image wrath of Fingal burned. He sent Ossian to meet Rothmar in battle, for the chief of Croma was the companion of his youth.
I sent the bard before me with songs; I came into the hali of Crothar. There sat the hero amidst the arms of his fathers, but his eyes had failed. His gray locks waved around a staff, on which the warrior leaned. He hummed the song of other times, when the sound of our arms reached his ears. Crothar rose, stretched his aged hand and blessed the son of Fingal.
Ossian! said the hero, the strength of Crothar's arm has failed. O could I lift the sword, as on the day that Fingal fought at Strutha! He was the first of mortal men; but Crothar had also his fame. The king of Morven praised me, and he placed on my arm the bossy shield of Calthar, whom the hero had slain in war. Dost thou not behold it on the wall, for Crothar's eyes have failed? Is thy strength, like thy fathers, Ossian? let the aged feel thine arm.
I gave my arm to the king; he feels it with his aged hands. The sigh rose in his breast, and his tears descended. Thou art strong, my son, he said, but not like the king of Morven. But who is like the hero among the mighty in war! Let the feast of my halls be spread; and let my bards raise the song. Great is he that is within my walls, sons of ecchoing Croma!
The feast is spread. The harp is heard; and joy is in the hall. But it was joy covering a sigh, that darkly dwelt in every breast. It was like the faint beam of the moon spread on a cloud in heaven. At length the music ceased, and the aged king of Croma spoke; he spoke without a tear, but the sigh swelled in the midst of his voice.[ 252 ] View Page Image
Son of Fingal! dost thou not behold the darkness of Crothar's hall of shells? My soul was not dark at the feast, when my people lived. I rejoiced in the presence of strangers, when my son shone in the hall. But, Ossian, he is a beam that is departed, and left no streak of light behind. He is fallen, son of Fingal, in the battles of his father.——Rothmar the chief of grassy Tromlo heard that mv eyes had failed; he heard that my arms were fixed in the hall, and the pride of his soul arose. He came towards Croma; my people fell before him. I took my arms in the hall, but what could fightless Crothar do? My steps were unequal; my grief was great. I wished for the days that were past. Days! wherein I fought; and won in the field of blood. My son returned from the chace; the fair-haired Fovar-gormoDisplay note. He had not lifted his sword in battle, for his arm was young. But the soul of the youth was great; the fire of valour burnt in his eyes. He saw the disordered steps of his father, and his sigh arose. King of Croma, he said, is it because thou hast no son; is it for the weakness of Fovar-gormo's arm that thy sighs arise? I begin, my father, to feel the strength of my arm; I have drawn the sword of my youth; and I have bent the bow. Let me meet this Rothmar, with the youths of Croma: let me meet him, O my father; for I feel my burning soul.
And thou shalt meet him, I said, son of the fightless Crothar! But let others advance before thee, that I may hear the tread of thy feet at thy return; for my eyes behold thee not, fair-haired Fovar-gormo!——He went, he met the foe; he fell. The foe advances towards Croma. He who slew my son is near, with all his pointed spears.
It is not time to fill the shell, I replied, and took my spear. My people saw the fire of my eyes, and they rose around. All night we [ 253 ] View Page Image strode along the heath. Gray morning rose in the east. A green narrow vale appeared before us; nor did it want its blue stream. The dark host of Rothmar are on its banks, with all their glittering arms. We fought along the vale; they fled; Rothmar sunk beneath my sword. Day had not descended in the west when I brought his arms to Crothar. The aged hero felt them with his hands; and joy brightened in his soul.
The people gather to the hall; the shells of the feast are heard. Ten harps are strung; five bards advance, and sing, by turnsDisplay note, the praise of Ossian; they poured forth their burning souls, and the harp answered to their voice. The joy of Croma was great: for peace returned to the land. The night came on with silence, and the morning returned with joy. No foe came in darkness, with [ 254 ] View Page Image his glittering spear. The joy of Croma was great; for the gloomy Rothmar fell.
I raised my voice for Fovar-gormo, when they laid the chief in earth. The aged Crothar was there, but his sigh was not heard. He searched for the wound of his son, and found it in his breast. Joy rose in the face of the aged. He came and spoke to Ossian.[ 255 ] View Page Image
King of spears! he said, my son has not fallen without his fame. The young warrior did not fly; but met death, as he went forward in his strength. Happy are they who die in youth, when their renown is heard! The feeble will not behold them in the hall; or smile at their trembling hands. Their memory shall be honoured in the song; the young tear of the virgin falls. But the aged [ 256 ] View Page Imagewither away, by degrees, and the fame of their youth begins to be forgot. They fall in secret; the sigh of their son is not heard. Joy is around their tomb; and the stone of their fame is placed without a tear. Happy are they who die in youth, when their renown is around them!