Cathlin of Clutha: A Poem.
Display noteCome, thou beam that art lonely, from watching in the night! The squally winds are around thee, from all their echoing hills. Red, over my hundred streams, are the light-covered paths of the dead. They rejoice, on the eddying winds, in the [ 160 ] View Page Image season of night.—Dwells there no joy in song, white hand of the harps of Lutha? Awake the voice of the string, and roll my soul to me. It is a dream that has failed.—Malvina pour the song.
I hear thee, from thy darkness, in Selma, thou that watchest, lonely, by night! Why didst thou with-hold the song, from Ossian’s failing soul?——As the falling brook to the ear of the hunter, descending from his storm-covered hill; in a sun-beam rolls the echoing stream; he hears, and shakes his dewy locks: such is the voice of Lutha, to the friend of the spirits of heroes.—My swelling bosom beats high. I look back on the days that are past.——Come, thou beam that art lonely, from the watching of night.
In the echoing bay of CarmonaDisplay note we saw, one day, the bounding ship. On high, hung a broken shield; it was marked with [ 161 ] View Page Image wandering blood. Forward came a youth, in armour, and stretched his pointless spear. Long, over his tearful eyes, hung loose his disordered locks. Fingal gave the shell of kings. The words of the stranger arose.
In his hall lies Cathmol of Clutha, by the winding of his own dark streams. Duth-carmor saw white-bosomed LanulDisplay note, and pierced her father’s side. In the rushy desart were my steps. He fled in the season of night. Give thine aid to Cathlin to revenge his father.——I fought thee not as a beam, in a land of clouds. Thou, like that sun, art known, king of echoing Selma.
Selma’s king looked around. In his presence, we rose in arms. But who should lift the shield? for all had claimed the war. The night came down; we strode, in silence; each to his hill of ghosts: that spirits might descend, in our dreams, to mark us for the field.
We struck the shield of the dead, and raised the hum of songs. We thrice called the ghosts of our fathers. We laid us down in dreams.——Trenmor came, before mine eyes, the tall form of other years. His blue hosts were behind him in half-distinguished rows. Scarce seen is their strife in mist, or their stretching forward to deaths. I listened; but no sound was there. The forms were empty wind.[ 162 ] View Page Image
I started from the dream of ghosts. On a sudden blast flew my whistling hair. Low-sounding, in the oak, is the departure of the dead. I took my shield from its bough. Onward came the rattling of steel. It was OscarDisplay note of Lego. He had seen his fathers.
As rushes forth the blast, on the bosom of whitening waves; so careless shall my course be, thro’ ocean, to the dwelling of foes. I have seen the dead, my father. My beating soul is high. My fame is bright before me, like the streak of light on a cloud, when the broad sun comes forth, red traveller of the sky.
Grandson of Branno, I said; not Oscar alone shall meet the foe. I rush forward, thro’ ocean, to the woody dwelling of heroes. Let us contend, my son, like eagles, from one rock; when they lift their broad wings, against the stream of winds.—We raised our sails in Carmona. From three ships, they marked my shield on the wave, as I looked on nightly Ton-thenaDisplay note, red traveller between the clouds.—Four days came the breeze abroad. Lumon came forward in mist. In winds were its hundred groves. [ 163 ] View Page ImageSun-beams marked, at times, its brown side. White, leapt the foamy streams, from all its echoing rocks.
A green field, in the bosom of hills, winds silent with its own blue stream. Here, midst the waving of oaks, were the dwellings of kings of old. But silence, for many dark-brown years, had settled in grassy Rath-colDisplay note; for the race of heroes had sailed, along the pleasant vale.—Duth-carmor was here, with his people, dark rider of the wave. Ton-thena had hid her head in the sky. He bound his white-bosomed sails. His course is on the hills of Rath-col, to the seats of roes.
We came. I sent the bard, with songs, to call the foe to fight. Duth-carmor heard him, with joy. The king’s soul was like a beam of fire; a beam of fire, marked with smoak, rushing, varied thro’ the bosom of night. The deeds of Duth-carmor were dark, tho’ his arm was strong.
Night came, with the gathering of clouds. By the beam of the oak we sat down. At a distance stood Cathlin of Clutha. I saw the changingDisplay note soul of the stranger. As shadows fly over the [ 164 ] View Page Image field of grass, so various is Cathlin’s cheek. It was fair, within locks, that rose on Rath-col’s wind. I did not rush, amidst his soul, with my words. I bade the song to rise.
Oscar of Lego, I said, be thine the secret hillDisplay note, to night. Strike the shield, like Morven’s kings. With day, thou shalt lead in war. From my rock, I shall see thee, Oscar, a dreadful form ascending in fight, like the appearance of ghosts amidst the storms they raise.——Why should mine eyes return to the dim times of old, ere yet the song had bursted forth, like the sudden rising of winds?——But the years, that are past, are marked with mighty deeds. As the nightly rider of waves looks up to Τοn-thena of beams: so let us turn our eyes to Trenmor, the father of kings.
Wide, in Caracha’s echoing field, Carmal had poured his tribes. They were a dark ridge of waves; the grey-haired bards were like moving foam on their face. They kindled the strife around, with their red-rolling eyes.—Nor alone were the dwellers of rocks; [ 165 ] View Page Image a son of Loda was there; a voice, in his own dark land, to call the ghosts from high.——On his hill, he had dwelt, in Lochlin, in the midst of a leafless grove. Five stones lifted, near, their heads. Loud roared his rushing stream. He often raised his voice to winds, when meteors marked their nightly wings; when the dark-crusted moon was rolled behind her hill. Nor unheard of ghosts was he!—They came with the sound of eagle wings. They turned battle, in fields, before the kings of men.
But, Trenmor, they turned not from battle; he drew forward the troubled war; in its dark skirt was Trathal, like a rising light.—It was dark; and Loda’s son poured forth his signs, on night.—The feeble were not before thee, son of other lands!
Display noteThen rose the strife of kings, about the hill of night; but it was soft as two summer gales, shaking their light wings, on a lake.——Trenmor yielded to his son; for the fame of the king was heard.—Trathal came forth before his father, and the foes sailed, in echoing Caracha. The years that are past, my son, are marked with mighty deedsDisplay note
In clouds rose the eastern light. The foe came forth in arms. The strife is mixed at Rath-col, like the roar of streams. Behold the contending of kings! They meet beside the oak. In gleams [ 166 ] View Page Image of steel the dark forms are lost; such is the meeting of meteors, in a vale by night: red light is scattered round, and men foresee the storm.——Duth-carmor is low in blood. The son of Ossian overcame. Not harmless in battle was he, Malvina hand of harps!
Nor, in the field, are the steps of Cathlin. The stranger stood by a secret stream, where the foam of Rath-col skirted the mossy stones. Above, bends the branchy birch, and strews its leaves, on winds. The inverted spear of Cathlin touched, at times, the stream.——Oscar brought Duth-carmor’s mail: his helmet with its eagle-wing. He placed them before the stranger, and his words were heard.——"The foes of thy father have failed. They are laid in the field of ghosts. Renown returns to Morven, like a rising wind. Why art thou dark, chief of Clutha? Is there cause for grief?"
Son of Ossian of harps, my soul is darkly sad. I behold the arms of Cathmol, which he raised in war. Take the mail of Cathlin, place it high in Selma’s hall; that thou mayst remember the hapless in thy distant land.
From white breasts descended the mail. It was the race of kings; the soft-handed daughter of Cathmol, at the streams of Clutha.—Duth-carmor saw her bright in the hall, he came, by night, to Clutha. Cathmol met him, in battle, but the hero fell. Three days dwelt the foe, with the maid. On the fourth she fled in arms. She remembered the race of kings, and felt her bursting soul.[ 167 ] View Page Image
Why, maid of Toscar of Lutha, should I tell how Cathlin failed? Her tomb is at rushy Lumon, in a distant land. Near it were the steps of Sul-malla, in the days of grief. She raised the song, for the daughter of strangers, and touched the mournful harp.
Come, from the watching of night, Malvina, lonely beam!