Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Fourth.[ 64 ] View Page Image
The second night continues. Fingal relates, at the feast, his own first expedition into Ireland, and his marriage with Ros-crána, the daughter of Cormac, king of that island.——The Irish chiefs convene in the presence of Cath-mor. The situation of the king described. The story of Sul-malla, the daughter of Conmor, king of Inis-huna, who, in the disguise of a young warrior, had followed Cathmor to the war. The sullen behaviour of Foldath, who had commanded in the battle of the preceding day, renews the difference between him and Malthos; but Cathmor, interposing, ends it. The chiefs feast, and hear the song of Fonar the bard. Cathmor returns to rest, at a distance from the army. The ghost of his brother Cairbar appears to him in a dream; and obscurely foretels the issue of the war.—The soliloquy of the king. He discovers Sul-malla. Morning comes. Her soliloquy closes the book.[ 65 ] View Page Image
Temora, An Epic Poem.
Display noteBeneath an oak, said the king, I sat on Selma's streamy rock, when Connal rose, from the sea, with the broken spear of Duth-caron. Far-distant stood the youth, and turned away his eyes; for he remembered the steps of his father, on his own green hills. I darkened in my place: dusky thoughts rolled over my soul. The kings of Erin rose before me. I half-unsheathed my sword.—Slowly approached the chiefs; they lifted up their silent eyes. Like a ridge of clouds, they wait for the bursting forth of my voice: it was, to them, a wind from heaven to roll the mist away.[ 66 ] View Page Image
I bade my white sails to rise, before the roar of Cona's wind. Three hundred youths looked, from their waves, on Fingal's bossy shield. High on the mast it hung, and marked the dark-blue sea.— But when the night came down, I struck, at times, the warning boss: I struck, and looked on high, for fiery-haired Ul-erinDisplay note.
Nor wanting was the star of heaven: it travelled red between the clouds: I pursued the lovely beam, on the faint-gleaming deep.— With morning, Erin rose in mist. We came into the bay of Moi-lena, where its blue waters tumbled, in the bosom of echoing woods.—Here Cormac, in his secret hall, avoided the strength of Colc-ulla. Nor he alone avoids the foe: the blue eye of Ros-crana is there: Ros-cranaDisplay note, white-handed maid, the daughter of the king.
Grey, on his pointless spear, came forth the aged steps of Cormac. He smiled, from his waving locks, but grief was in his soul. He saw us few before him, and his sigh arose.— I see the arms of Trenmor, he said; and these are the steps of the king! Fingal! thou art a beam of light to Cormac's darkened soul.— Early [ 67 ] View Page Image is thy fame my son: but strong are the foes of Erin. They are like the roar of streams in the land, son of car-borne Comhal.
Yet they may be rolledDisplay noteaway, I said in my rising soul. We are not of the race of the feeble, king of blue-shielded hosts. Why should fear come amongst us, like a ghost of the night? The soul of the valiant grows, as foes increase in the field. Roll no darkness, king of Erin, on the young in war.
The bursting tears of the king came down. He seized my hand in silence.——"Race of the daring Trenmor, I roll no cloud before thee. Thou burnest in the fire of thy fathers. I behold thy fame. It marks thy course in battles, like a stream of light.——But wait the coming of CairbarDisplay note: my son must join thy sword. He calls the sons of Ullin, from all their distant streams."
We came to the hall of the king, where it rose in the midst of rocks: rocks, on whose dark sides, were the marks of streams of old. Broad oaks bend around with their moss: the thick birch waves its green head. Half-hid, in her shady grove, Ros-crana raised the song. Her white hands rose on the harp. I beheld her blue-rolling [ 68 ] View Page Imageeyes. She was like a spiritDisplay note of heaven half-folded in the skirt of a cloud.
Three days we feasted at Moi-lena: she rose bright amidst my troubled soul.—Cormac beheld me dark. He gave the white-bosomed maid.—She came with bending eye, amidst the wandering of her heavy locks.—She came.——Straight the battle roared.—Colc-ulla came: I took my spear. My sword rose, with my people, against the ridgy foe. Alnecma fled. Colc-ulla fell. Fingal returned with fame.[ 69 ] View Page Image
He is renowned, O Fillan, who fights, in the strength of his people. The bard pursues his steps, thro' the land of the foe.—But he who fights alone; few are his deeds to other times. He shines, to-day, a mighty light. To-morrow, he is low. One song contains his fame, his name is on one dark field. He is forgot, but where his tomb sends forth the tufts of grass.
Such were the words of Fingal, on Mora of the roes. Three bards, from the rock of Cormul, poured down the pleasant song. Sleep descended, in the sound, on the broad-skirted host. Carril returned, with the bards, from the tomb of Dun-lora's king. The voice of morning shall not come, to the dusky bed of the hero. No more shalt thou hear the tread of roes, around thy narrow house.
Display noteAs roll the troubled clouds, round a meteor of night, when they brighten their sides, with its light, along the heaving sea: so gathered Erin, around the gleaming form of Atha's king. He, tall in the midst, careless lifts, at times, his spear: as swells or falls the sound of Fonar's distant harp.
Display noteNear him leaned, against a rock, Sul-mallaDisplay noteof blue eyes, the white-bosomed daughter of Conmor king of Inis-huna. To his [ 70 ] View Page Imageaid came blue-shielded Cathmor, and rolled his foes away. Sul-malla beheld him stately in the hall of feasts; nor careless rolled the eyes of Cathmor on the long-haired maid.
The third day arose, and FithilDisplay notecame from Erin of the streams. He told of the lifting up of the shieldDisplay note on Morven, [ 71 ] View Page Imageand the danger of red-haired Cairbar. Cathmor raised the sail at Cluba: but the winds were in other lands. Three days he remained on the coast, and turned his eyes on Conmor's halls.—He remembered the daughter of strangers, and his sigh arose.—Now when the winds awaked the wave: from the hill came a youth in arms; to lift the sword with Cathmor in his echoing fields.——It was the white-armed Sul-malla: secret she dwelt beneath her helmet. Her steps were in the path of the king; on him her blue eyes rolled with joy, when he lay by his roaring streams.—But Cathmor thought, that, on Lumon, she still pursued the roes; or, fair on a rock, stretched her white hand to the wind; to feel its course from Inis-fail, the green dwelling of her love. He had promised to return, with his white-bosomed sails.——The maid is near thee, king of Atha, leaning on her rock.
The tall forms of the chiefs stood around; all but dark-browed FoldathDisplay note. He stood beneath a distant tree, rolled into his haughty [ 72 ] View Page Imagesoul. His bushy hair whistles in wind. At times, bursts the hum of a song.—He struck the tree, at length, in wrath; and rushed before the king.
Calm and stately, to the beam of the oak, arose the form of young Hidalla. His hair falls round his blushing cheek, in wreaths of waving light. Soft was his voice in Clon-raDisplay note, in the valley of his fathers; when he touched the harp, in the hall, near his roaring streams.
King of Erin, said the youth, now is the time of feasts. Bid the voice of bards arise, and roll the night away. The soul returns, from song, more terrible to war—Darkness settles on lnis-fail: from hill to hill bend the skirted clouds. Far and grey, on the heath, the dreadful strides of ghosts are seen: the ghosts of those who fell bend forward to their song.——Bid thou the harps to rise, and brighten the dead, on their wandering blasts.
Be all the dead forgot, said Foldath's bursting wrath. Did not I fail in the field, and shall I hear the song? Yet was not my course harmless in battle: blood was a stream around my steps. But the feeble were behind me, and the foe has escaped my sword.—In Clon-ra's vale touch thou the harp; let Dura answer to thy voice; while some maid looks, from the wood, on thy long, yellow locks.——Fly from Lubar's echoing plain: it is the field of heroes.
King of TemoraDisplay note, Malthos said, it is thine to lead in war. Thou art a fire to our eyes, on the dark-brown field. Like a blast [ 73 ] View Page Image thou hast past over hosts, and laid them low in blood; but who has heard thy words returning from the field?——The wrathful delight in death: their remembrance rests on the wounds of their spear. Strife is folded in their thoughts: their words are ever heard.——Thy course, chief of Moma, was like a troubled stream. The dead were rolled on thy path: but others also lift the spear. We were not feeble behind thee; but the foe was strong.
The king beheld the rising rage, and bending forward of either chief: for, half-unsheathed, they held their swords, and rolled their silent eyes.—Now would they have mixed in horrid fray, had not the wrath of Cathmor burned. He drew his sword: it gleamed thro' night, to the high-flaming oak.
Sons of pride, said the king, allay your swelling souls. Retire in night.—Why should my rage arise? Should I contend with both in arms——It is no time for strife. Retire, ye clouds, at my feast. Awake my soul no more.—They sunk from the king on either side; likeDisplay note two columns of morning mist, when the sun rises, between them, on his glittering rocks. Dark is their rolling on either side; each towards its reedy pool. [ 74 ] View Page Image
Silent sat the chiefs at the feast. They looked, at times, on Atha's king, where he strode, on his rock, amidst his settling soul.— The host lay, at length, on the field; sleep descended on Moi-lena.—The voice of Fonar rose alone, beneath his distant tree. It rose in the praise of Cathmor son of LarthonDisplay note of Lumon. But Cathmor did not hear his praise. He lay at the roar of a stream. The rustling breeze of night flew over his whistling locks.
Cairbar came to his dreams, half-seen from his low-hung cloud. Joy rose darkly in his face: he had heard the song of CarrilDisplay note.——A blast sustained his dark-skirted cloud; which he seized [ 75 ] View Page Imagein the bosom of night, as he rose, with his fame, towards his airy hall. Half-mixed with the noise of the stream, he poured his feeble words.
Joy meet the soul of Cathmor: his voice was heard on Moi-lena. The bard gave his song to Cairbar: he travels on the wind. My form is in my father's hall, like the gliding of a terrible light, which winds thro' the desart, in a stormy night.—No bard shall be wanting at thy tomb, when thou art lowly laid. The sons of song love the valiant.—Cathmor, thy name is a pleasant gale.—The mournful sounds arise! On Lubar's field there is a voice!—Louder still ye shadowy ghosts! the dead were full of fame.—Shrilly swells the feeble sound.—The rougher blast alone is heard!—Ah, soon is Cathmor low!
Rolled into himself he flew, wide on the bosom of his blast. The old oak felt his departure, and shook its whistling head. The king started from rest, and took his deathful spear. He lifts his eyes around. He sees but dark-skirted night.
Display noteIt was the voice of the king; but now his form is gone. Unmarked is your path in the air, ye children of the night. Often, [ 76 ] View Page Imagelike a reflected beam, are ye seen in the desart wild; but ye retire in your blasts before our steps approach.—Go then, ye feeble race! knowledge with you there is none. Your joys are weak, and like the dreams of our rest, or the light-winged thought that flies across the soul.——Shall Cathmor soon be low? Darkly laid in his narrow house? where no morning comes with her half-opened eyes.—Away, thou shade! to fight is mine, all further thought away! I rush forth, on eagle wings, to seize my beam of fame.——In the lonely vale of streams, abides the littleDisplay note soul.—Years roll on, seasons return, but he is still unknown.—In a blast comes cloudy death, and lays his grey head low. His ghost is rolled on the vapour of the fenny field. Its course is never on hills, or mossy vales of wind.——So shall not Cathmor depart, no boy in the field was he, who only marks the bed of roes, upon the echoing hills. [ 77 ] View Page ImageMy issuing forth was with kings, and my joy in dreadful plains; where broken hosts are rolled away, like seas before the wind.
So spoke the king of Alnecma, brightening in his rising soul: valour, like a pleasant flame, is gleaming within his breast. Stately is his stride on the heath: the beam of east is poured around. He saw his grey host on the field, wide-spreading their ridges in light. He rejoiced, like a spirit of heaven, whose steps come forth on his seas, when he beholds them peaceful round, and all the winds are laid. But soon he awakes the waves, and rolls them large to some echoing coast.
On the rushy bank of a stream, slept the daughter of Inis-huna. The helmetDisplay note had fallen from her head. Her dreams were in the lands of her fathers. There morning was on the field: grey streams leapt down from the rocks, and the breezes, in shadowy waves, fly over the rushy fields. There is the sound that prepares for the chace; and the moving of warriors from the hall.——But tall above the rest is the hero of streamy Atha: he bends his eye of love on Sul-malla, from his stately steps. She turns, with pride, her face away, and careless bends the bow.
Such were the dreams of the maid when Atha's warrior came. He saw her fair face before him, in the midst of her wandering locks. He knew the maid of Lumon. What should Cathmor do?——His sigh arose: his tears came down. But straight he [ 78 ] View Page Imageturned away.—This is no time, king of Atha, to wake thy secret soul. The battle is rolled before thee, like a troubled stream.
He struck that warning bossDisplay note, wherein dwelt the voice of war. Erin rose around him like the sound of eagle-wings.—Sul-malla started from deep, in her disordered locks. She seized the helmet from earth, and trembled in her place. Why should they know in Erin of the daughter of Inis-huna? for she remembered the race of kings, and the pride of her soul arose.
Her steps are behind a rock, by the blue-winding streamDisplay note of a vale: where dwelt the dark-brown hind ere yet the war arose. Thither came the voice of Cathmor, at times, to Sul-malla's ear. Her soul is darkly sad; she pours her words on wind.
Display noteThe dreams of Inis-huna departed: they are rolled away from my soul. I hear not the chace in my land. I am concealed in the skirt of war. I look forth from my cloud, but no beam appears to light my path. I behold my warrior low; for the broad-shielded [ 79 ] View Page Imageking is near; he that overcomes in danger; Fingal of the spears.—Spirit of departed Conmor, are thy steps on the bosom of winds? Comest thou, at times, to other lands, father of sad Sul-malla? Thou dost come, for I have heard thy voice at night; while yet I rose on the wave to streamy Inis-fail. The ghost of fathers, they sayDisplay note, can seize the souls of their race, while they behold them lonely in the midst of woe. Call me, my father, when the king is low on earth; for then I shall be lonely in the midst of woe.[ 80 ] View Page Image