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GAOL-NAN-DAOINE, OR GOLNANDONE.
P. 194. v. 1. CHAOL-ABHAIN nan sruth ciar o charn, &c.] Col-amon signifies a narrow river, Colna-dona, the love of heroes, Car-ul, darkeyed. Col-amon, the residence of Carul, was in the neighbourhood of Agricola's wall, towards the south. Car-ul, seems to have been of the race of those Britons, who are distinguished by the name of Maiatæ, by the writers of Rome. Maiatæ is derived from two Gaelic words, moi, a plain, and aitich, inhabitants; so that the signification of Maiata is the inhabitants of the plain country; a name given to the Britons, who were settled in the Lowlands, in contradistinction to the Caledonians (i. e. Cael-don, the Gauls of the hills), who were possessed of the more mountainous division of North Briton.
P. 194. v. 17. Gu Crona nan sruth ruadh, tha thall, &c.] Crona, murmuring, was the name of a small stream, which discharged itself in the river Carron. It is often mentioned by Ossian, and the scenes of many of his poems are on its banks. The enemies whom Fingal defeated here are not mentioned. They were, probably, the provincial Britons. That tract of country between the Friths of Forth and Clyde has been, through all antiquity, famous for battles and rencounters between the different nations, who were possessed of North and South Britain. Stirling, a town situated there, derives its name from that very circumstance. It is a corruption of the Gaelic name, Strila, i. e. the hill, or rock, of contention.
P. 198. v. 59. Ghluais mall o Chaol-abhain am bard
O Charull, do'n annsadh dàimh, &c.] The manners of the Britons and Caledonians were so similar, in the days of Ossian, that there can be no doubt, that they were originally the same people, and descended from those Gauls who first possessed themselves of South Britain, and gradually migrated to the North. This hypothesis is more rational than the idle fables of ill-informed senachies, who bring the Caledonians from distant countries. The bare opinion of Tacitus (which, by-the-bye, was only founded on a similarity of the personal figure of the Caledonians to the Germans of his own time), though it has staggered some learned men, is not sufficient to make us believe, that the
ancient inhabitants of North Britain were a German colony. A discussion of a point like this might be curious, but could never be satisfactory. Periods so distant are so involved in obscurity, that nothing certain can be now advanced concerning them. The light which the Roman writers hold forth is too feeble to guide us to the truth, through the darkness which has surrounded it.
P. 202. v. 123. Air cobhar liath nan tonn.] Here an episode is entirely lost; or, at least, is handed down so imperfectly, that it does not deserve a place in the poem.
P. 212. v. 43. MORSHRUTH.] Mor'-ruth, great stream.
P. 214. v. 63. Innis-faile.] Inisfail, one of the ancient names of Ire
P. 220. v. 145. Faobhar-gorm.] The blue point of steel.
P. 224. v. 193. Cuig baird ma seach le rainn
Togail cliu mu mhac nan treun.] Those extempore compositions were in great repute among succeeding bards. The pieces extant of that kind shew more of the good ear, than of the poetical genius of their authors. The translator has only met with one poem of this sort, which he thinks worthy of being preserved. It is a thousand years later than Ossian, but the author seems to have observed his manner, and adopted some of his expressions. The story of it is this: Five bards, passing the night in the house of a chief, who was a poet himself, went severally to make their observations on, and returned with an extempore description of, night. The night happened to be one in October, as appears from the poem, and in the north of Scotland; it has all that variety which the bards ascribe to it in their descriptions.
Night is dull and dark. The clouds rest on the hills. No star with green trembling beam; no moon looks from the sky. I hear the blast in the wood; but I hear it distant far. The stream of the valley
murmurs; but its murmur is sullen and sad. From the tree at the
grave of the dead the long-howling owl is heard. I see a dim form on the plain! It is a ghost! it fades, it flies. Some funeral shall pass this way: the meteor marks the path.
The distant dog is howling from the hut of the hill. The stag lies on the mountain moss: the hind is at his side. She hears the wind in his branchy horns. She starts, but lies again.
The roe is in the cleft of the rock; the heath-cock's head is beneath his wing. No beast, no bird is abroad, but the owl and the howling fox. She on a leafless tree; he on a cloud on the hill.
Dark, panting, trembling, sad, the traveller has lost his way. Through shrubs, through thorns, he goes along the gurgling rill. He fears the rock and the fen. He fears the ghost of night. The old tree groans to the blast; the falling branch resounds. The wind drives the withered burs, clung together along the grass. It is the light tread of a ghost! He trembles amidst the night.
Dark, dusky, howling is night, cloudy, windy, and full of ghosts! The dead are abroad! my friends, receive me from the night.
The wind is up. The shower descends. The spirit of the mountain shrieks. Woods fall from high. Windows flap. The growing river The traveller attempts the ford. Hark! that shriek! he dies! The storm drives the horse from the hill, the goat, the lowing cow. They tremble as drives the shower, beside the mouldering bank.
The hunter starts from sleep, in his lonely hut. He wakes the fire decayed. His wet dogs smoke around him. He fills the chinks with heath. Loud roar two mountain streams which meet beside his booth. Sad on the side of a hill the wandering shepherd sits. The tree resounds above him. The stream roars down the rock.
rising moon to guide him to his home.
He waits for the
Ghosts ride on the storm to-night. Sweet is their voice between the squalls of wind. Their songs are of other worlds.
The rain is past. The dry wind blows. Streams roar and windows flap. Cold drops fall shower gathers again.
from the roof. I see the starry sky. But the
The west is gloomy and dark. Night is stormy
and dismal; receive me, my friends, from night.
The wind still sounds between the hills: and whistles through the grass of the rock. The firs fall from their place. The turfy hut is torn. The clouds, divided, fly over the sky, and shew the burning stars. The meteor, token of death! flies sparkling through the gloom. It rests on the hill. I see the withered fern, the dark-browed rock, the fallen oak. Who is that in his shrowd beneath the tree, by the stream?
The waves dark-tumble on the lake, and lash its rocky sides. The boat is brimful in the cove; the oars on the rocking tide. A maid sits sad beside the rock, and eyes the rolling stream. Her lover promised to come. She saw his boat, when yet it was light, on the lake. Is this his broken boat on the shore? Are these his groans on the wind?
Hark! the hail rattles around. The flaky snow descends. The tops of the hills are white. The stormy winds abate. Various is the night and cold; receive me, my friends, from night.
Night is calm and fair; blue, starry, settled is night. The winds, with the clouds, are gone. They sink behind the hill. The moon is up on the mountain. Trees glister; streams shine on the rock. Bright rolls the settled lake; bright the stream of the vale.
I see the trees overturned; the shocks of corn on the plain. The wakeful hind rebuilds the shocks, and whistles on the distant field.
Calm, settled, fair is night! Who comes from the place of the dead? That form with the robe of snow! white arms and dark brown hair? It is the daughter of the chief of the people: She that lately fell! Come, let us view thee, O maid! thou that hast been the delight of heroes! The blast drives the phantom away; white, without form, it ascends the hill.
The breezes drive the blue mist, slowly over the narrow vale. It rises on the hill, and joins its head to heaven. Night is settled, calm, blue, starry, bright with the moon. Receive me not, my friends, for lovely is the night.
Night is calm, but dreary. The moon is in a cloud in the west. Slow moves that pale beam along the shaded hill. The distant wave is heard.
The torrent murmurs on the rock. The cock is heard from the booth.
He sees the starry plough of the north.
Hark! the whirlwind is in the wood! A low murmur in the vale! It
is the mighty army of the dead returning from the air.
The moon rests behind the hill.
Long are the shadows of the trees.
The beam is still on that lofty rock.
Now it is dark over all.
dreary, silent, and dark; receive me, my friends, from night.
Let clouds rest on the hills: spirits fly, and travellers fear. Let the winds of the woods arise, the sounding storms descend. Roar streams and windows flap, and green-winged meteors fly! rise the pale moon from behind her hills, or inclose her head in clouds! night is alike to me, blue, stormy, or gloomy the sky. Night flies before the beam, when it is poured on the hill. The young day returns from his clouds, but we
return no more.
Where are our chiefs of old? Where are our kings of mighty name? The fields of their battles are silent. Scarce their mossy tombs remain. We shall also be forgot. This lofty house shall fall. Our sons shall not behold the ruins in grass. the walls of our fathers ?"
They shall ask of the aged, "Where stood
Raise the song, and strike the harp; send round the shells of joy. Suspend a hundred tapers on high. Youths and maids begin the dance. Let some grey bard be near me to tell the deeds of other times; of kings renowned in our land, of chiefs we behold no more. Thus let the night
pass until morning shall appear in our halls. Then let the bow be at hand, the dogs, the youths of the chase. We shall ascend the hill with day; and awake the deer.