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As meet two broad-winged eagles, in their founding ftrife, on the winds: fo rushed the two chiefs, on Moi-lena, into gloomy fight.-By turns are the steps of the kings* forward on their rocks; for now the dusky war feems to descend on their fwords.-Cathmor feels the joy of warriors, on his moffy hill: their joy in fecret when dangers rife equal to their fouls. His eye is not turned on Lubar, but on Morven's dreadful king; for he beheld him, on Mora, rifing in his arms.
FOLDATH fell on his fhield; the fpear of Fillan pierced the king. Nor looked the youth
* Fingal and Cathmor.
+ The fall of Foldath, if we may believe tradition, was predicted to him, before he had left his own country to join Cairbar, in his defigns on the Irish throne. He went to the cave of Moma, to enquire of the spirits of his fathers, concerning the fuccefs of the enterprise of Cairbar. The refponfes of oracles are always attended with obfcurity, and liable to a double meaning: Foldath, therefore, put a favourable interpretation on the prediction, and pursued his adopted plan of aggrandizing himself with the family of Atha. I fhall, here, tranflate the answer of the ghofts of bis ancestors, as it was handed down by tradition. Whether the legend is really ancient, or the invention of a late age, I fhall not pretend to determine, tho', from the phrafeology, I fhould fufpect the last.
FOLDATH, addressing the spirits of his fathers. Dark, I ftand in your prefence; fathers of Foldath,
on the fallen, but onward rolled the war. The hundred voices of death arose.-"Stay, son of Fingal, ftay thy fpeed. Beholdeft thou not that gleaming form, a dreadful fign of death? Awaken not the king of Alnecma. Return, fon of blueeyed Clatho."
faw Foldath low.
MALTHOS He darkly flood above the king. Hatred was rolled from
hear. Shall my fteps pafs over Atha, to Ullin of the roes?
Thy fteps fhall pafs over Atha, to the green dwelling of kings. There fhall thy ftature arife, over the fallen, like a pillar of thunder-clouds. There, terrible in darkness, shalt thou stand, till the reflected beam, or Clon-cath of Moruth, come; Moruth of many ftreams, that roars in diftant lands."
Cloncath, or reflected beam, fay my traditional authors, was the name of the fword of Fillan; fo that it was, in the latent fignification of the word Clon-cath, that the deception lay. My principal reafon for introducing this note, is, that if this tradition is equally ancient with the poem, which, by the bye, is doubtful, it ferves to fhew, that the religion of the Fir-bolg differed from that of the Caledonians, as we never find the latter enquiring of the fpirits of their deceafed ancestors.
*The characters of Foldath and Malthos are well fuftained. They were both dark and furly, but each in a different way. Foldath was impetuous and cruel. Malthos ftubborn and incredulous. Their attachment to the family of Atha was equal; their bravery in battle the fame. Foldath
his foul. He feemed a rock in the defart, on whofe dark fide are the trickling of waters,. when the flow-failing mift has left it, and its trees are blafted with winds. He fpoke to the dying hero, about the narrow houfe. Whether shall thy grey ftone rife in Ullin? or in Moma's woody land, where the fun looks, in fecret, on, the blue ftreams of Dalrutho +? There are the fteps of thy daughter, blue-eyed Dardu-lena. REMEMBEREST thou her, faid Foldath, because no fon is mine; no youth to roll the battle before him, in revenge of me? Malthos, I am revenged. I was not peaceful in the field..
Foldath was vain and oftentatious: Malthos unindulgent but generous. His behaviour here, towards his enemy Foldath, fhews, that a good heart often lies concealed under a gloomy and fullen character.
* Moma was the name of a country in the fouth of Connaught, once famous for being the refidence of an Archdruid. The cave of Moma was thought to be inhabited by the fpirits of the chiefs of the Fir-bolg, and their pofterity fent to enquire there, as to an oracle, concerning the iflue of their wars.
† Dal-ruäth, parched or fandy field. The etymology of Dardu lena is uncertain. The daughter of Foldath was, probably, fo called, from a place in Ulfter, where her father had defeated part of the adherents of Artho, king of Ireland. Dor-du lena; the dark wood of Mei-lena. As Foldath was proud and oftentatious, it would appear, that he transferred the name of a place, where he himself had been victorious, to his daughter.
Raife the tombs of those I have flain, around my narrow houfe. Often fhall I forfake the blast, to rejoice above their graves; when I behold them spread around, with their long-whiftling grafs.
His foul rushed to the vales of Moma, and came to Dardu-lena's dreams, where the flept, by Dalrutho's ftream, returning from the chace of the hinds. Her bow is near the maid, unfrung; the breezes fold her long hair on her breafts. Cloathed in the beauty of youth, the love of heroes lay. Dark bending, from the skirts of the wood, her wounded father came. He appeared, at times, thenfeemed as hid in mift.; Bursting into tears the rofe: the knew that the chief was low. To her came a beam from his foul when folded in itsftorms. Thou wert the last of his race, blue-eyed Dardu-lena!
WIDE-SPREADING over echoing Lubar, the flight of Bolga is rolled along. Fillan, hung forward on their fteps; and ftrewed, with dead, the heath. Fingal rejoiced over his fon.-Bluefhielded
* Thefe fudden tranfitions from the fubject are not un
common in the compofitions of Offian.
That in this
place has a peculiar beauty and propriety. The fufpence, in which the mind of the reader is left, conveys the idea of Fillan's danger more forcibly home, than any defcription the poet could introduce. There is a fort of elo
fhielded Cathmor rofe. Son of Alpin, bring the harp give Fillan's praise to the wind: raise high his praife, in my hall, while yet he fhines in war.
LEAVE, blue-eyed Clatho, leave thy hall. Behold that early beam of thine. The hoft is withered in its courfe. No further look-it is dark.- -Light-trembling from the harp, ftrike, virgins, ftrike the found.-No hunter he defcends, from the dewy haunt of the bounding roe. He bends not his bow on the wind; or fends his grey arrow abroad.
DEEP-FOLDED in red war, the battle rolls against his fide. Or, ftriding midft the ridgy ftrife, he pours the deaths of thoufands forth.
quence, in filence with propriety. A minute detail of the circumftances of an important scene is generally cold and infipid. The human mind, free and fond of thinking for itself, is difgufted to find every thing done by the poet. It is, therefore, his business only to mark the most striking out-lines, and to allow the imaginations of his readers to finish the figure for themselves.
The addrefs to Clatho, the mother of Fillan, which concludes this book, if we regard the verfification of the original, is one of the most beautiful paffages in the poem. The wild fimplicity and harmony of its cadences are inimitably beautiful. It is fung ftill by many in the north, and is diftinguished by the name of Laoi chaon Chlatho: i. e. The harmonious hymn of Clatho. The book ends in the afternoon of the third day, from the opening of the poe: