Page images

Nunc plurimùm pollens, nunc inutilis,
Nostri anni dilabantur de cælo
Progredientes unâ ad suum finem.
Sit gaudium exhilerans te, o sol !
Dum tu sis viribus potens, o princeps, in tuâ juventà.
Est tristis et injucunda senectus,
Similis lumini inani lunæ in cælo,
Cum illa prospiciat e nubibus in campum,
Et cana nebula insideat clivis montium,
Flatus spiret a septemtrione per planitiem,
Et viator obnoxius damno, et tardus.

English Translation continued.

clouds in the east, or tremblest in the west at thy dusky gates on the ocean. But perhaps thou art like myself, at one time mighty, at another feeble, our years sliding down from the skies, hastening together to their end. Rejoice then, O sun! while thou art strong in thy youth. Sad and unpleasant is old age, like the vain light of the moon in the sky, when she looks from the clouds on the field, and grey

mist is on the side of the hill; the blast from the north on the plain ; and the traveller distressed and slow.

[merged small][ocr errors]



A Brief Description of SELMA.


[ocr errors]

There is every reason to believe that Selma, so
often mentioned in the poems of Ossian, as the prin-
cipal residence of his father Fingal, was situate in
that part of Argyleshire called Upper Lorn, on a
green hill of an oblong form, which rises on the sea
shore at equal distances from the mouths of the
lakes Eite, and Creran. It is now called by the in-
habitants of the place Dun-MHIC SNITHEACHAIN,
i. e. the fort of the son of Snitho; but by some of
our historians Berigonium, and by them said to have
once been the capitol of the kingdom of the Gaels,
or Caledonians. On the top of this hill are still to
be seen vestiges of extensive buildings, with frag-
ments of the walls, bearing evident marks of fire,
scattered along the sides of the hill; but it does not
appear that the place had been at any period affected
by a volcano, as some do think; seeing the remains
of a circular edifice, which stood on that end of the
hill further from the sea, have not the least tincture
of fire: most of the stones of which have been
carried away by the inhabitants of the adjacent
farms for private use. Whatever had occasioned the
fall of Selma, Ossian must have known it; for he
had seen it, as will appear from his poems, when
thousands feasted in its halls, and had also the mis-
fortune to see it in ruins.


The following passages from the poems of Ossian are descriptive of Selma, and its supposed situation, both before, and after its fall.

Sguir an t sealg, a's choidil na feigh
Fo dhubhar gheug air a choinich;
Thuit brat na hoiche air na sleibhte,
A's feisd aig seoid an Seallama.

Bha dàn, a's dàn ann mar bu nds,
Bha sud ann a's ceol nan clàr,
Le donnal chon am fè na greis
O'n chreig fo 'n geal an tràigh.

See Dr. Smith's Ancient Poems. Dearg-mac Druibheil, verse 17, &C.

Literal Translation,

The chase had ceased, and the deer slept
Under the shadow of trees on the moss;
The curtain of night descended on the hills,
And heroes were feasting in Selma.

There was song after song, as the custom was,
There was that and the music of harps,
With the barking of dogs in the interval of action
From the rock which rises over the white beach.

The white beach, mentioned in the last line, answers exactly the present aspect of the white sand which covers the shore around part of the hill on which Selma stood. The rock from which the dogs were heard to bark is here also; for that part of the hill, washed by the waves, is composed of rock, and rises almost perpendicular to the sea.


But if this be not the rock alluded to in the poem, there is another rock within a few hundred yards of Selma, to which the description is equally applicable. It rises considerably higher than the former, and with a tremendous aspect threatens to crush the traveller, who steals along a narrow passage which art has opened between it and the sea. This rock is known to the inhabitants of the place by the name of Dunbhaleri, which being analyzed becomes DUN-BHAILE-RI, i. e. the fort of the town of the king. From this rock to Selma, along the shore are to be seen traces of a causeway, which still goes under the name of Market-street.

An Seallama, 'n Taura, no ’n Tigh-mor-ri,
Cha 'n eil slige, no òran, no càrsach !
Tha iad uile nan tulachain uaine,
'San clachaibh nan cluainibh fein.
Cha 'n fhaic aineal o 'n lear no o'n fhasach
A haon diu 'sa bharr roi neul.

Sa Sheallama, a theach mo ghaoil !
An e 'n torr so t'aos làrach,
Far am bheil foghnan, fraoch, a's fòlach,
Ri bròn fo shile na hoiche.

Dr. Smith's Ancient Poems. Death of Gaul, v. 33, fc.


In Selma, in Taura, or Temora,
There is no shell, nor song, nor harp!
They are all become green mounds;
And their stones half sunk in their own meadows.


[ocr errors]

The stranger shall not behold from the sea, or desert,
Any one of them lifting its head through the cloud.

And thou, Selma, house of my delight !
Is this heap thy old ruins,
Where the thistle, the heath, and the rank grass
Are mourning under the drop of night.

[ocr errors]

The description given of Selma, after its fall, in the third and fourth line of the preceding passage, corresponds exactly to the present appearance of the ruins of that place. The fourth line in particular describes the fragments of the walls, and loose stones, which, after rolling down the face of the hill, are now seen half sunk in the soft marshy ground that surrounds part of the place.

That Selma was situate nigh the sea, as has been said above, will appear from the passages which follow.

[ocr errors]

“ A chlann nan treunmor," thuirt Carrul,

Thug sibh laithe chaidh thairis nuas, "Nuair thearnadh leam sios o thonna mara Air Selma nan darag ri stuaidh."

Gaolnandaoine, p. 200, v. 78, 8-c.


“ Sons of the mighty,” said Carrul,
“ Ye have brought back days that have passed,
" When I descended from the waves of the ocean,
“ On Selma of the oaks bordering on the waves.

« PreviousContinue »