Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Sixth.[ 98 ] View Page Image
This book opens with a speech of Fingal, who sees Cathmor descending to the assistance of his flying army. The king dispatches Ossian to the relief of Fillan. He himself retires behind the rock of Cormul, to avoid the sight of the engagement between his son and Cathmor. Ossian advances. The descent of Cathmor described. He rallies the army, renews the battle, and, before Ossian could arrive, engages Fillan himself. Upon the approach of Ossian, the combat between the two heroes ceases. Ossian and Cathmor prepare to fight, but night coming on prevents them. Ossian returns to the place where Cathmor and Fillan fought. He finds Fillan mortally wounded, and leaning against a rock. Their discourse. Fillan dies: his body is laid, by Ossian, in a neighbouring cave.—The Caledonian army return to Fingal. He questions them about his son, and, understanding that he was killed, retires, in silence, to the rock of Cormul.—Upon the retreat of the army of Fingal, the Fir-bolg advance. Cathmor finds Bran, one of the dogs of Fingal, lying on the shield of Fillan, before the entrance of the cave, where the body of that hero lay. His reflexions thereupon. He returns, in a melancholy mood, to his army. Malthos endeavours to comfort him, by the example of his father Borbar-duthul. Cathmor retires to rest. The song of Sul-malla concludes the book, which ends about the middle of the third night, from the opening of the poem.[ 99 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Display noteCathmor rises on echoing hill! Shall Fingal take the sword of Luno? But what should become of thy fame, son of white-bosomed Clatho? Turn not thine eyes from Fingal, daughter of Inistore. I shall not quench thy early beam; it shines [ 100 ] View Page Imagealong my soul.—Rise, wood-skirted Mora, rise between the war and me! Why should Fingal behold the strife, lest his darkhaired warrior should fall!—Amidst the song, O Carril, pour the sound of the trembling harp: here are the voices of rocks, and bright tumbling of waters. Father of Oscar lift the spear; defend the young in arms. Conceal thy steps from Fillan's eyes.—He must not know that I doubt his steel.—No cloud of mine shall rise, my son, upon thy soul of fire!
He sunk behind his rock, amidst the sound of Carril's song.—Brightening, in my growing soul, I took the spear of TemoraDisplay note. I saw, along Moi-lena, the wild tumbling of battle, the strife of death, in gleaming rows, disjoined and broken round. Fillan is a beam of fire; from wing to wing is his wasteful course. The ridges of war melt before him. They are rolled, in smoak, from the fields.[ 101 ] View Page Image
Display noteNow is the coming forth of Cathmor, in the armour of kings! Dark-rolled the eagle's wing, above his helmet of fire. Unconcerned are his steps, as if they were to the chace of Atha. He raised, at times, his terrible voice; Erin, abashed, gathered round.—Their souls returned back, like a stream: they wondered at the steps of their fear: for he rose, like the beam of the morning on a haunted heath: the traveller looks back, with bending eye, on the field of dreadful forms.
Sudden, from the rock of Moi-lena, are Sul-malla's trembling steps. An oak took the spear from her hand; half-bent she loosed the lance: but then are her eyes on the king, from amidst her wandering locks.—No friendly strife is before thee; no light contending of bows, as when the youth of ClubaDisplay note came forth beneath the eye of Conmor.[ 102 ] View Page Image
As the rock of Runo, which takes the passing clouds for its robe, seems growing, in gathered darkness, over the streamy heath; so seemed the chief of Atha taller, as gathered his people round.—As different blasts fly over the sea, each behind its dark-blue wave, so Cathmor's words, on every side, poured his warriors forth.—Nor silent on his hill is Fillan; he mixed his words with his echoing shield. An eagle he seemed, with sounding wings, calling the wind to his rock, when he sees the coming forth of the roes, on Lutha'sDisplay note rushy field.
Now they bent forward in battle: death's hundred voices rose; for the kings, on either side, were like fires on the souls of the people.—I bounded along; high rocks and trees rushed tall between the war and me.—But I heard the noise of steel, between my clanging arms. Rising, gleaming, on the hill, I beheld the backward steps of hosts: their backward steps, on either side, and wildly-looking eyes. The chiefs were met in dreadful fight; the two blue-shielded kings. Tall and dark, thro' gleams of steel, are seen the striving heroes.—I rushed.—My fears for Fillan flew, burning across my soul.
I came; nor Cathmor fled; nor yet advanced: he sidelong stalked along. An icy rock, cold, tall he seemed. I called forth all my steel.—Silent awhile we strode, on either side of a rushing stream: then, sudden turning, all at once, we raised our pointed spears.—We raised our spears, but night came down. It is dark [ 103 ] View Page Imageand silent round; but where the distant steps of hosts are sounding over the heath.
I came to the place where FillanDisplay notefought. Nor voice, nor sound is there. A broken helmet lay on earth: a buckler cleft in twain. Where, Fillan, where art thou, young chief of echoing Morven? He heard me leaning against a rock, which bent its grey head over the stream. He heard; but sullen, dark he stood. At length I saw the hero.
Why standest thou, robed in darkness, son of woody Selma? Bright is thy path, my brother, in this dark-brown field. Long has been thy strife in battle. Now the horn of Fingal is heard. Ascend to the cloud of thy father, to his hill of feasts. In the evening mist he sits, and hears the voice of Carril's harp. Carry joy to the aged, young breaker of the shields.
Can the vanquished carry joy? Ossian, no shield is mine. It lies broken on the field. The eagle-wing of my helmet is torn. It is when foes fly before them that fathers delight in their sons. But their sighs burst forth, in secret, when their young warriors yield.—No: Fillan will not behold the king. Why should the hero mourn?
Son of blue-eyed Clatho, why dost thou awake my soul? Wert thou not a burning fire before him; and shall he not rejoice?—— [ 104 ] View Page ImageSuch fame belonged not to Ossian; yet was the king still a sun to me. He looked on my steps, with joy: shadows never rose on his face.—Ascend, O Fillan, to Mora: his feast is spread in the folds of mist.
Ossian, give me that broken shield: these feathers that are rolled in the wind. Place them near to Fillan, that less of his fame may fall. Ossian, I begin to fail.—Lay me in that hollow rock. Raise no stone above: lest one should ask about my fame. I am fallen in the first of my fields; fallen without renown. Let thy voice alone send joy to my flying soul. Why should the bard know where dwells the early-fallen FillanDisplay note?[ 105 ] View Page Image
Is thy spirit on the eddying winds, blue-eyed king of shields? Joy pursue my hero, thro' his folded clouds. The forms of thy fathers, O Fillan, bend to receive their son. I behold the spreading of their fire on Mora; the blue-rolling of their misty wreaths.—Joy meet thee my brother.——But we are dark and sad. I behold the foe round the aged, and the wasting away of his fame. Thou art left alone in the field, grey-haired king of Selma.
I laid him in the hollow rock, at the roar of the nightly stream. One red star looked in on the hero: winds lift, at times, his locks. I listened: no sound is heard: for the warrior slept.——As lightning on a cloud, a thought came rushing over my soul.—My eyes rolled in fire: my stride was in the clang of steel.
I will find thee, chief of Atha, in the gathering of thy thousands. Why should that cloud escape, that quenched our early beam? Kindle your meteors on your hills, my fathers, to light [ 106 ] View Page Imagemy daring steps. I will consume in wrathDisplay note——Should I not return! the king is without a son, grey-haired amidst his foes. His arm is not as in the days of old: his fame grows dim in Erin. Let me not behold him from high, laid low in his latter field.—But can I return to the king? Will he not ask about his son? "Thou oughtest to defend young Fillan."—I will meet the foe.—Green Inisfail, thy sounding tread is pleasant to my ear: I rush on thy ridgy host, to shun the eyes of Fingal.——I hear the voice of the king, on Mora's misty top!—He calls his two sons; I come, my father,—in my grief.—I come like an eagle, which the flame of night met in the desart, and spoiled of half his wings.
Display noteDistant, round the king, on Mora, the broken ridges of Morven are rolled. They turned their eyes: each darkly bends, [ 107 ] View Page Imageon his own ashen spear.—Silent stood the king in the midst. Thought on thought rolled over his soul. As waves on a secret mountain-lake, each with its back of foam.—He looked; no son appeared, with his long-beaming spear. The sighs rose, crowding, from his soul; but he concealed his grief.——At length I stood beneath an oak. No voice of mine was heard. What could I say to Fingal in his hour of woe?——His words rose, at length, in the midst: the people shrunk backward as he spokeDisplay note.[ 108 ] View Page Image
Where is the son of Selma, he who led in war? I behold not his steps, among my people, returning from the field. Fell the young bounding roe, who was so stately on my hills?—He fell;— for ye are silent. The shield of war is broke.——Let his armour be near to Fingal; and the sword of dark-brown Luno. I am waked on my hills; with morning I descend to war.
Display noteHigh on Cormul's rock, an oak flamed to the wind. The grey skirts of mist are rolled around; thither strode the king in his [ 109 ] View Page Imagewrath. Distant from the host he always lay, when battle burnt within his soul. On two spears hung his shield on high; the gleaming sign of death; that shield, which he was wont to strike, by night, before he rushed to war.—It was then his warriors knew, when the king was to lead in strife; for never was this buckler heard, till Fingal's wrath arose.—Unequal were his steps on high, as he shone in the beam of the oak; he was dreadful as the form of the spirit of night, when he cloaths, on hills, his wild gestures with mist, and, issuing forth, on the troubled ocean, mounts the car of winds.
Nor settled, from the storm, is Erin's sea of war; they glittered, beneath the moon, and, low-humming, still rolled on the field.—Alone are the steps of Cathmor, before them on the heath; he hung forward, with all his arms, on Morven's flying host. Now had he come to the mossy cave, where Fillan lay in night. One tree was bent above the stream, which glittered over the rock.—— There shone to the moon the broken shield of Clatho's son; and near it, on grass, lay hairy-footed BranDisplay note. He had missed the chief [ 110 ] View Page Imageon Mora, and searched him along the wind. He thought that the blue-eyed hunter slept; he lay upon his shield. No blast came over the heath, unknown to bounding Bran.
Cathmor saw the white-breasted dog; he saw the broken shield. Darkness is blown back on his soul; he remembers the falling away of the people. They come, a stream; are rolled away; another race succeeds.—"But some mark the fields, as they pass, with their own mighty names. The heath, thro' dark-brown years, is theirs; some blue stream winds to their fame.— Of these be the chief of Atha, when he lays him down on earth. Often may the voice of future times meet Cathmor in the air: when he strides from wind to wind, or folds himself in the wing of a storm."
Green Erin gathered round the king, to hear the voice of his power. Their joyful faces bend, unequal, forward, in the light of the oak. They who were terrible were removed: LubarDisplay notewinds [ 111 ] View Page Imageagain in their host. Cathmor was that beam from heaven which shone when his people were dark. He was honoured in the midst. Their souls rose trembling around. The king alone no gladness shewed; no stranger he to war!
Why is the king so sad, said Malthos eagle-eyed?— Remains there a foe at Lubar? Lives there among them, who can lift the spear? Not so peaceful was thy father, Borbar-duthulDisplay note, king of spears. His rage was a fire that always burned: his joy over fallen foes was great.—Three days feasted the grey-haired hero, when he heared that Calmar fell: Calmar, who aided the race of Ullin, from Lara of the streams.—Often did he feel, with his hands, the steel which, they said, had pierced his foe. He felt it [ 112 ] View Page Imagewith his hands, for Borbar-duthul's eyes had failed.— Yet was the king a sun to his friends; a gale to lift their branches round. Joy was around him in his halls: he loved the sons of Bolga. His name remains in Atha, like the awful memory of ghosts, whose presence was terrible, but they blew the storm away.—Now let the voicesDisplay noteof Erin raise the soul of the king; he that shone when war was dark, and laid the mighty low.—Fonar, from that grey-browed rock, pour the tale of other times: pour it on wide-skirted Erin, as it settles round.
To me, said Cathmor, no song shall rise; nor Fonar sit on the rock of Lubar. The mighty there are laid low. Disturb not their rushing ghosts. Far, Malthos, far remove the sound of Erin's song. I rejoice not over the foe, when he ceases to lift the spear. With morning we pour our strength abroad. Fingal is wakened on his echoing hill.
Like waves, blown back by sudden winds, Erin retired, at the voice of the king. Deep-rolled into the field of night, they spread their humming tribes. Beneath his own tree, at intervals, eachDisplay note bard sat down with his harp. They raised the song, and touched [ 113 ] View Page Imagethe string: each to the chief he loved.—Before a burning oak Sul-malla touched, at times, the harp. She touched the harp, and heard, between, the breezes in her hair.—In darkness near, lay the king of Atha, beneath an aged tree. The beam of the oak was turned from him; he saw the maid, but was not seen. His soul poured forth, in secret, when he beheld her fearful eye.—But battle is before thee, son of Borbar-duthul.
Amidst the harp, at intervals, she listened whether the warrior slept. Her soul was up; she longed, in secret, to pour her own sad song. The field is silent. On their wings, the blasts of night retire. The bards had ceased; and meteors came, red-winding with their ghosts.—The sky grew dark: the forms of the dead were blended with the clouds. But heedless bends the daughter of Conmor, over the decaying flame. Thou wert alone in her soul, car-borne chief of Atha. She raised the voice of the song, and touched the harp between.[ 114 ] View Page Image
Display noteClun-galo came; she missed the maid.—Where art thou, beam of light? Hunters, from the mossy rock, saw you the blue-eyed fair?—Are her steps on grassy Lumon; near the bed of roes?—Ah me! I behold her bow in the hall. Where art thou, beam of light?
Display noteCease, love of Conmor, cease; I hear thee not on the ridgy heath. My eye is turned to the king, whose path is terrible in war. He for whom my soul is up, in the season of my rest.— Deep-bosomed in war he stands, he beholds me not from his cloud.—Why, sun of Sul-malla, dost thou not look forth?—I dwell in darkness here; wide over me flies the shadowy mill. Filled with dew are my locks: look thou from thy cloud, O sun of Sul-malla's soul.