Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book First.[ 2 ] View Page Image
Cairbar, the son of Borbar-duthul, lord of Atha in Connaught, the most potent chief of the race of the Firbolg, 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 fleet appeared 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 Moilena. 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 Moilena, in Ulster.[ 3 ] View Page Image
Temora, An Epic PoemDisplay note.
The blue waves of Ullin roll in light. The green hills 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 [ 4 ] View Page Image of a stream is there; on its banks stood CairbarDisplay note of Atha. ——His spear supports the king: the red eyes of his fear are 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 sides.—Cairbar thrice threw his spear on earth; and thrice he stroked [ 5 ] View Page Image his beard. His steps are short; he often stops: and tosses his sinewy arms. He is like a cloud in the desart; that varies its form to every blast: the valleys are sad around, and fear, by turns, the shower.
The king, at length, resumed his soul, and took his pointed spear. He turned his eyes 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, and called his gloomy chiefs.
The sounding steps of his warriors came. They drew, at once, their swords. There Morlath Display notestood with darkened face. Hidalla's long hair sighs in wind. Red-haired Cormar bends on his spear, and rolls his side-long-looking eyes. Wild is the look of Malthos from beneath too shaggy brows.—Foldath stands like an oozy rock, that covers its dark sides with foam. His spear is like Slimora's fir, that meets the wind of heaven. His shield is marked with the strokes of battle; and his red eye despises danger. These and a thousand other chiefs surrounded car-borne Cairbar, when the scout of ocean came, Mor-annalDisplay note, from streamy Moi-lena.—His eyes hang forward from his face, his lips are trembling, pale.[ 6 ] View Page Image
Do the chiefs of Erin stand, he said, silent as the grove of evening? Stand they, like a silent wood, and Fingal on the coast? Fingal, who is terrible in battle, the king of streamy Morven.—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, Cairbar. I have seen his forward spearDisplay note.It is a meteor of death: the blood of thousands is on its steel.—— He came first to the shore, strong in the grey hair of age. Full rose his sinewy limbs, as he strode in his might. That sword is by his side which gives no secondDisplay notewound. His shield is terrible, like the bloody moon ascending thro' a storm.—Then came Ossian king of songs; and Morni's son, the first of men. Connal leaps forward on his spear: Dermid spreads his dark-brown locks.—— Fillan bends his bow, the young hunter of streamy Moruth.Display note—But who is that before them, like the terrible course of a stream! It is the son of Ossian, bright between his locks. His long hair falls on his back.—His dark brows are half-inclosed in steel. His [ 7 ] View Page Imagesword hangs loose on his side. His spear glitters as he moves. I fled from his terrible eyes, king of high Temora!
Then fly, thou feeble man, said Foldath's gloomy wrath: fly to the grey streams of thy land, son of the little soul! Have not I seen that Oscar? I beheld the chief in war. He is of the mighty in danger: but there are others who lift the spear. —Erin has many sons as brave, king of Temora of Groves! Let Foldath meet him in the strength of his course, and stop this mighty stream.—My spear is covered with the blood of the valiant; my shield is like the wall of Tura.
Shall FoldathDisplay notealone meet the foe? replied the dark-browed Malthos. Are they not numerous on our coast, like the waters of many streams? Are not these the chiefs who vanquished Swaran, when the sons of Erin fled? And shall Foldath meet their bravest hero? Foldath of the heart of pride! take the strength of the people; and let Malthos come. My sword is red with slaughter, but who has heard my words?Display note
Sons of green Erin, said HidallaDisplay note,let not Fingal hear your words. The foe might rejoice, and his arm be strong in the land.—Ye are brave, O warriors, and like the tempests of the desart; [ 8 ] View Page Imagethey meet the rocks without fear, and overturn the woods.—But let us move in our strength, slow as a gathered cloud.——Then shall the mighty tremble; the spear shall fall from the hand of the valiant.—We see the cloud of death, they will say, while shadows fly over their face. Fingal will mourn in his age, and see his flying fame.—The steps of his chiefs will cease in Morven: the moss of years shall grow in Selma.
Cairbar heard their words, in silence, like the cloud of a shower: it stands dark on Cromla, till the lightning bursts its side: the valley gleams with red light; the spirits of the storm rejoice.—So stood the silent king of Temora; at length his words are heard.
Spread the feast on Moi-lena: let my hundred bards attend. Thou, red-hair'd Olla, take the harp of the king. Go to Oscar chief of swords, and bid him to our feast. To-day we feast and hear the song; to-morrow break the spears. Tell him that I have raised the tomb of CatholDisplay note; that bards have sung to his ghost.—Tell him that Cairbar has heard his fame at the stream of resounding CarunDisplay note. Cathmor Display noteis not here, Borbar-duthul's generous race. [ 9 ] View Page ImageHe is not here with his thousands, and our arms are weak. Cathmor is a foe to strife at the feast: his soul is bright as that sun. But Cairbar shall fight with Oscar, chiefs of the woody Temora! His words for Cathol were many; the wrath of Cairbar burns. He shall fall on Moi-lena: my fame shall rise in blood.
Their faces brightened round with joy. They spread over Moi-lena. the feast of shells is prepared. The songs of bards arise. We heardDisplay notethe voice of joy on the coast: we thought that mighty [ 10 ] View Page ImageCathmor came. Cathmor the friend of strangers! the brother of red-haired Cairbair. Their souls were not the same. The light [ 11 ] View Page Imageof heaven was in the bosom of Cathmor. His towers rose on the banks of Atha: seven paths led to his halls. Seven chiefs stood on the paths, and called the stranger to the feast! But Cathmor dwelt in the wood to avoid the voice of praise.
Olla came with his songs. Oscar went to Cairbar's feast. Three hundred warriors strode along Moi-lena of the streams. The grey dogs bounded on the heath, their howling reached afar. Fingal saw the departing hero: the soul of the king was sad. He dreaded Cairbar's gloomy thoughts, amidst the feast of shells.
My son raised high the spear of Cormac: an hundred bards met him with songs. Cairbar concealed with smiles the death that was dark in his soul. The feast is spread, the shells resound: joy brightens the face of the host. But it was like the parting beam of the sun, when he is to hide his red head, in a storm.
Cairbar rose in his arms; darkness gathered on his brow. The hundred harps ceased at once. The clangDisplay note of shields was heard. Far distant on the heath Olla raised his song of woe. My son knew the sign of death; and rising seized his spear.
Oscar! said the dark-red Cairbar, I behold the spearDisplay note of Inisfail. [ 12 ] View Page Image The spear of TemoraDisplay note glitters in thy hand, son of woody Morven! It was the pride of an hundredDisplay note kings, the death of heroes of old. Yield it, son of Ossian, yield it to car-borne Cairbar.
Shall I yield, Oscar replied, the gift of Erin's injured king: the gift of fair-haired Cormac, when Oscar scattered his foes? I came to Cormac's halls of joy, when Swaran fled from Fingal. Gladness rose in the face of youth: he gave the spear of Temora. Nor did he give it to the feeble, Ο Cairbar, neither to the weak in soul. The darkness of thy face is no storm to me; nor are thine eyes the flames of death. Do I fear thy clanging shield? Tremble I at Olla's song? No: Cairbar, frighten the feeble, Oscar is a rock.
And wilt thou not yield the spear? replied the rising pride of Cairbar. Are thy words so mighty because Fingal is near? Fingal with aged locks from Morven's hundred groves! He has fought with little men. But he must vanish before Cairbar, like a thin pillar of mist before the winds of AthaDisplay note.
Were he who fought with little men near Atha's darkening chief: Atha's chief would yield green Erin to avoid his rage. Speak not of the mighty, Ο Cairbar! but turn thy sword on me. Our strength is equal: but Fingal is renowned! the first of mortal men ![ 13 ] View Page Image
Their people saw the darkening chiefs. Their crowding steps are heard around. Their eyes roll in fire. A thousand swords are half unsheathed. Red-haired Olla raised the song of battle: the trembling joy of Oscar's soul arose: the wonted joy of his soul when Fingal's horn was heard.
Dark as the swelling wave of ocean before the rising winds, when it bends its head near the coast, came on the host of Cairbar.——Daughter of Toscar!Display notewhy that tear? He is not fallen yet. Many were the deaths of his arm before my hero fell!—Behold they fall before my son like the groves in the desart, when an angry ghost rushes through night, and takes their green heads in his hand! Morlath falls: Maronnan dies: Conachar trembles in his blood. Cairbar shrinks before Oscar's sword; and creeps in darkness behind his stone. He lifted the spear in secret, and pierced my Oscar's side. He falls forward on his shield: his knee sustains the chief. But still his spear is in his hand.—See gloomy CairbarDisplay note falls![ 14 ] View Page Image
The steel pierced his forehead, and divided his red hair behind. He lay, like a shattered rock, which Cromla shakes from its shaggy side. But never more shall Oscar rise! he leans on his bossy shield. His spear is in his terrible hand: Erin's sons stood distant and dark. Their shouts arose, like crowded streams, and Moi-lena echoed wide.
Fingal heard the sound; and took his father's spear. His steps are before us on the heath. He spoke the words of woe. I hear the noise of war. Young Oscar is alone. Rise, sons of Morven; join the hero's sword.
Ossian rushed along the heath. Fillan bounded over Moi-lena. Fingal strode in his strength, and the light of his shield is terrible. [ 15 ] View Page ImageThe sons of Erin saw it far distant; they trembled in their souls. They knew that the wrath of the king arose: and they foresaw their death. We first arrived; we fought; and Erin's chiefs withstood our rage. But when the king came, in the sound of his course, what heart of steel could stand! Erin fled over Moi-lena. Death pursued their flight.
We saw Oscar on his shield. We saw his blood around. Silence darkened every face. Each turned his back and wept. The king strove to hide his tears. His grey beard whistled in the wind. He bends his head above his son. His words are mixed with sighs.
And art thou fallen, Oscar, in the midst of thy course? the heart of the aged beats over thee! He sees thy coming wars. The wars which ought to come he beholds, but they are cut off from thy fame. When shall joy dwell at Selma? When shall grief depart from Morven? My sons fall by degrees: Fingal shall be the last of his race. The fame which I have received shall pass away: my age will be without friends. I shall sit a grey cloud in my hall: nor shall I hear the return of a son, in the midst of his sounding arms. Weep, ye heroes of Morven! never mere shall Oscar rise!
And they did weep, O Fingal; dear was the hero to their souls. He went out to battle, and the foes vanished; he returned, in peace, amidst their joy. No father mourned his son slain in youth; no brother his brother of love. They fell, without tears, for the chief of the people was low! BranDisplay note is howling at his feet: gloomy Luäth [ 16 ] View Page Imageis sad, for he had often led them to the chace; the bounding roe of the desart.
When Oscar saw his friends around, his white breast rose with sighs.—The groans, he said, of aged chiefs; the howling of my dogs: the sudden bursts of the song of grief, have melted Oscar's soul. My soul, that never melted before; it was like the steel of my sword.—Ossian, carry me to my hills! Raise the stones of my renown. Place the horn of the deer, and my sword within my narrow dwelling.—The torrent hereafter may raise the earth: the hunter may find the steel and say, "This has been Oscar's sword."
And fallest thou, son of my fame! And shall I never see thee, Oscar! When others hear of their sons, I shall not hear of thee. The moss is on thy four grey stones; the mournful wind is there. The battle shall be fought without him: he shall not pursue the dark-brown hinds. When the warrior returns from battles, and tells of other lands; I have seen a tomb, he will say, by the roaring stream, the dark dwelling of a chief. He fell by car-borne Oscar, the first of mortal men.—I, perhaps, shall hear his voice; and a beam of joy will rise in my soul.
The night would have descended in sorrow, and morning returned in the shadow of grief: our chiefs would have stood like cold dropping rocks on Moi-lena, and have forgot the war, did not the king disperse his grief, and raise his mighty voice. The chiefs, as new-wakened from dreams, lift up their heads around.
How long on Moi-lena shall we weep; or pour our tears in Ullin? The mighty will not return. Oscar shall not rise in his strength. [ 17 ] View Page Image
The valiant must fall one day, and be no more known on his hills. —Where are our fathers, O warriors! the chiefs of the times of old? They have set like stars that have shone, we only hear the sound of their praise. But they were renowned in their day, the terror of other times. Thus shall we pass, O warriors, in the day of our fall. Then let us be renowned when we may; and leave our fame behind us, like the last beams of the sun, when he hides his red head in the west.
Ullin, my aged bard! take the ship of the king. Carry Oscar to Selma of harps. Let the daughters of Morven weep. We shall fight in Erin for the race of fallen Cormac. The days of my years begin to fail: I feel the weakness of my arm. My fathers bend from their clouds, to receive their grey-hair'd son. But, before I go hence, one beam of fame shall rise: so shall my days end, as my years begun, in fame: my life shall be one stream of light to bards of other times.
Ullin rais'd his white sails: the wind of the south came forth. He bounded on the waves towards Selma.—Display note I remained in my grief, but my words were not heard.——The feast is spread on Moi-lena: an hundred heroes reared the tomb of Cairbar: but no song is raised over the chief; for his soul had been dark and bloody. The bards remembered the fall of Cormac! what could they say in Cairbar's praise?
The night came rolling down. The light of an hundred oaks arose. Fingal sat beneath a tree. Old AlthanDisplay note stood in the midst. [ 18 ] View Page ImageHe told the tale of fallen Cormac. Althan the son of Conachar, the friend of car-borne Cuchullin: he dwelt with Cormac in windy Temora, when Semo's son fought with generous Torlath.—The tale of Althan was mournful, and the tear was in his eye.
Display noteThe setting sun was yellow on Dora.Display note Grey evening began to descend. Temora's woods shook with the blast of the unconstant wind. A cloud, at length, gathered in the west, and a red star looked from behind its edge.—I stood in the wood alone, and saw a ghost on the darkening air. His stride extended from hill to hill: his shield was dim on his side. It was the son of Semo: I knew the warrior's face. But he passed away in his blast; and all was dark around.—My soul was sad. I went to the hall of shells. A thousand lights arose: the hundred bards had strung the harp. Cormac stood in the midst, like the morning star, when it rejoices on the eastern hill, and its young beams are bathed in showers.— The sword of ArthoDisplay note was in the hand of the king; and he looked with joy on its polished studs: thrice he attempted to draw it, and thrice he failed; his yellow locks are spread on his shoulders: his cheeks of youth are red.—I mourned over the beam of youth, for he was soon to set.
Althan! he said, with a smile, hast thou beheld my father? Heavy is the sword of the king, surely his arm was strong. O that I were like him in battle, when the rage of his wrath arose! then [ 19 ] View Page Image would I have met, like Cuchullin, the car-borne son of Cantéla! But years may come on, O Althan! and my arm be strong.—Hast thou heard of Semo's son, the chief of high Temora? He might have returned with his fame; for he promised to return to-night. My bards wait him with songs; my feast is spread in Temora.
I heard the king in silence. My tears began to flow. I hid them with my aged locks; but he perceived my grief.
Son of Conachar! he said, is the king of TuraDisplay note low? Why bursts thy sigh in secret? And why descends the tear?—Comes the car-borne Torlath? Or the sound of the red-haired Cairbar?-——They come!—for I behold thy grief. Mossy Tura's king is low!—Shall I not rush to battle?—But I cannot lift the spear!—O had mine arm the strength of Cuchullin, 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 sound: the bards bend forward, from their hundred harps. The lone blast touched their trembling strings. The soundDisplay note 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 SlimoraDisplay note.—He told of the [ 20 ] View Page Image death of Cuchuliin, and 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 sire, was seen no more.
But who, said the soft-voiced Carril, come like the bounding roes? their stature is like the young trees of the plain, growing in a shower:—Soft and ruddy are their cheeks; but fearless souls look forth from their eyes?——Who but the sons of UsnothDisplay note, the car-borne chiefs of Etha? The people rise on every side, like the strength of an half-extinguished fire, when the winds come, sudden, from the desart, on their rustling wings.—The sound of Caithbat'sDisplay note shield was heard. The heroes saw Cuchullin in Nathos.Display note 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!
And soon may I behold the chief! replied the blue-eyed king. But my soul is sad for Cuchullin; his voice was pleasant in mine [ 21 ] View Page Imageear.——Often have we moved, on Dora, to the chace of the dark-brown hinds: his bow was unerring on the mountains.—He spoke of mighty men. He told of the deeds of my fathers; and I felt my joy.—But sit thou at the feast, O bard, I have often heard thy voice. Sing in the praise of Cuchullin; and of that mighty strangerDisplay note.
Day rose on woody Temora, with all the beams of the east. Trathin came to the hall, the son of old GellámaDisplay note.—I behold, he said, a dark cloud in the desart, king of Innisfail! a cloud it seemed at first, but now a croud 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 spear is in his hand.
Call him to the feast of Temora, replied the king of Erin. My hall is the house of strangers, son of the generous Gelláma!— Perhaps it is the chief of Etha, coming in the sound of his renown.—Hail, mightyDisplay note stranger, art thou of the friends of Cormac?—But Carril, he is dark, and unlovely; and 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, but the chief of Atha.— Why comest thou in thy arms to Temora, Cairbar of the gloomy brow? Let not thy sword rise against Cormac! Whither dost; thou turn thy speed?
He passed on in his darkness, and seized the hand of the king. Cormac foresaw his death, and the rage of his eyes arose.—Retire, [ 22 ] View Page Image thou gloomy chief of Atha: Nathos comes with battle.—Thou art bold in Cormac's hall, for his arm is weak.—The sword entered 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.
And art thou fallen in thy hallsDisplay note, O son of noble Artho? The shield of Cuchullin 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.
My words came to the ears of Cairbar, and he closed usDisplay note in the midst of darkness. He feared to stretch his sword to the bardsDisplay note though his soul was dark. Long had we pined alone: at length, the noble CathmorDisplay note came.—He heard our voice from the cave; he turned the eye of his wrath on Cairbar.
Chief of Atha! he said, how long wilt thou pain my soul? Thy heart is like the rock of the desart; and thy thoughts are dark.— But thou art the brother of Cathmor, and he will fight thy battles. ——But Cathmor's soul is not like thine, thou feeble hand of war! The light of my bosom is stained with thy deeds: the 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 [ 23 ] View Page Imagesilence: my fame shall not be heard.—Cairbar! loose the bards: they are the sons of other 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 Ullin; to aid the red-haired Cairbar: and now he comes to revenge his death, O king of woody Morven.——
And let him come, replied the king; I love a foe like Cathmor. His soul is great; 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 the song. Fingal is amidst his darkening years. He must not fall, as an aged oak, across a secret stream. Near it are the steps of the hunter, as it lies beneath the wind. "How has that tree fallen?" He, whistling, strides along.
Raise the song of joy, ye bards of Morven, that our souls may forget the past.—The red stars look on us from the clouds, and silently descend. Soon shall the grey beam of the morning rise, and shew us the foes of Cormac.——Fillan! take the spear of the king; go to Mora's dark-brown side. Let thine eyes travel over the heath, like flames of fire, Observe the foes of Fingal, and [ 24 ] View Page Imagethe course of generous Cathmor. I hear a distant sound, like the falling of rocks in the desart.——But strike thou thy shield, at times, that they may not come through night, and the fame of Morven cease.—I begin to be alone, my son, and I dread the fall of my renown.
The voice of the bards arose. The king leaned on the shield of Trenmor.—Sleep descended on his eyes, and his future battles rose in his dreams. The host are sleeping around. Dark-haired Fillan observed the foe. His steps are on a distant hill: we hear, at times, his clanging shield.