Page images


bounding roe, than thou, O Cathmor, be turn-
ed from the ftrife of renown. Soon
-Soon may
fee thee, warrior, from the fkirts of the evening
mift, when it is rolled around me, on Lona of
the ftreams. While yet thou art diftant far,
ftrike, Cathmor, ftrike the fhield, that joy may
return to my darkned foul, as I lean on the moffy
rock. But if thou fhould fall-I am in the
land of ftrangers;-O fend thy voice, from thy
cloud, to the maid of Inis-huna.

YOUNG branch of green-headed Lumon, why doft thou shake in the ftorm? Often has Cathmor returned, from darkly-rolling wars, The darts of death are but hail to me; they have often bounded from my shield. I have rifen brightned from battle, like a meteor from a ftormy cloud. Return not, fair beam, from thy vale, when the roar of battle grows. Then might the foe escape, as from my fathers of old.

THEY told to Son-mor*, of Clunar †, flain by Cormac the giver of fhells. Three days


Són-mor, tall handsome man. He was the father of Borbar-duthul, chief of Atha, and grandfather to Cathmor himself. The propriety of this epifode is evident, But, tho' it appears here to be only introduced as an example to Sul-malla; the poet probably had another defign in view, which was further to illuftrate the antiquity of the quarrel between the Firbolg and Caël.

+ Cluan-er, man of the field. This chief was killed in battle by Cormac Mac-Conar, king of Ireland, the father


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

darkned Son-mor, over his brother's fall.-His spouse beheld the filent king, and forefaw his Hteps to war. She prepared the bow, in fecret, to attend her blue-fhielded hero. To her dwelt darkness, at Atha, when the warrior moved to his fields. From their hundred ftreams, by night, poured down the fons of Alnecma. They had heard the fhield of the king, and their rage arofe. In clanging arms, they moved along, towards Ullin the land of groves. Son-mor ftruck his fhield, at time the leader of the


FAR behind followed Sul-allin*, over the ftreamy hills. She was a light on the mountain, when they croffed the vale below. Her fteps were ftately on the vale, when they rofe on the moffy hill. She feared to approach the king, who left her in Atha of hinds. But when the roar of battle rofe; when hoft was rolled on hoft; when Son-mor burnt, like the fire of heaven in clouds, with her fpreading hair came Sul-allin; for the trembled for her king.-He ftopt the rufhing ftrife to fave the love of heroes.-The foe fled by night; Clunar flept without his blood;

of Rofcrana, the first wife of Fingal. The ftory is alluded to in other poems.

* Suil-alluin, beautiful eye, the wife of Son-mor.


the blood which ought to be poured upon the warrior's tomb.


NOR rose the rage of Son-mor, but his days were dark and flow. Sul-allin wandered, by her grey ftreams, with her tearful eyes. Often did fhe look, on the hero, when he was folded in his thoughts. But fhe fhrunk from his eyes, and turned her lone fteps away.-Battles rose, like a tempeft, and drove the mist from his foul. He beheld, with joy, her fteps in the hall, and the white rifing of her hands on the harp.

IN his arms ftrode the chief of Atha, to where his fhield hung, high, in night: high on


* The poet returns to his fubject. The defcription of the fhield of Cathmor is valuable, on account of the light it throws on the progrefs of arts in thofe early times. Those who draw their ideas of remote antiquity from their obfervations on the manners of modern favage nations, will have no high opinion of the workmanship of Cathmor's shield. To remove some part of their prejudice, I shall only obferve, that the Belgae of Britain, who were the ancestors of the Firbolg, were a commercial people; and commerce, we might prove, from many fhining examples of our own times, is the proper inlet of arts and fciences, and all that exalts the human mind. To avoid multiplying notes, I fhall give here the fignification of the names of the stars, engraved on the fhield. Cean-mathon, head of the bear. Col-derna, flant and sharp beam. Ul-oicho, ruler of night. Cathlin, beam of the wave. Reul-durath, far of the twilight. Berthin, fire of the hill. Tonthéna,


a moffy bough, over Lubar's freamy roar, Seven boffes rofe on the fhield; the feven voices of the king, which his warriors received, from the wind, and marked oyer all their tribes.

ON each bofs is placed a ftar of night; Canmathon with beams unthorn; Col-derna rifing from a cloud: Uloicho robed in mift; and the foft beam of Cathlin glittering on a rock, Fair-gleaming on its own blue wave, Reldurath half-finks its western light. The red eye of Berthin looks, through a grove, on the flowmoving hunter, as he returns, through fhowery night, with the fpoils of the bounding roe.Wide, in the midft, arofe the cloudlefs beams of Ton-théna; Ton-théna which looked, by night, on the course of the fea-toffed Larthon : Larthon, the firft of Bolga's race, who trayelled on the winds *.-White-bofomed fpread the fails of the king, towards ftreamy Inisfail; dun night was rolled before him, with its fkirts of mift. The winds were changeful in heaven,

meteor of the waves, Thefe etymologies, excepting that of Cean-mathon, are pretty exact. Of it I am not fo certain; for it is not very probable, that the Firbolg had distinguished a conftellation, so very early as the days of Larthon, by the name of the bear.

* To travel on the winds, a poetical expreffion for fail ing.


and rolled him from wave to wave. Then rofe the fiery-haired Ton-théna, and laughed from her parted cloud. Larthon rejoiced at the guiding beam, as it faint-gleamed on the tumbling waters.

[ocr errors]


* Larthon is compounded of Lear, fea, and thon, wave, This name was given to the chief of the firft colony of the Firbolg, who fettled in Ireland, on account of his knowledge in navigation. A part of an old poem is ftill extant, concerning this hero. The author of it, probably, took the hint from the episode in this book, relating to the first discovery of Ireland by Larthon. It abounds with thofe romantic fables of giants and magicians, which diftinguish the compofitions of the lefs ancient bards. The descriptions, contained in it, are ingenious and proportionable to the magnitude of the perfons introduced; but, being unnatural, they are infipid and tedious. Had the bard kept within the bounds of probability, his genius was far from being contemptible. The exordium of his poem is not deftitute of merit; but it is the only part of it, that I think worthy of being presented to the reader.

"Who first fent the black fhip, thro' ocean, like a whale thro' the bursting of foam ?-Look, from thy darkness, on Cronath, Offian of the harps of old !-Send thy light on the blue rolling waters, that I may behold the king fee him dark in his own fhell of oak! featoffed Larthon, thy foul is fire.-It is carelefs as the wind of thy fails; as the wave that rolls by thy fide. But the filent green ifle is before thee, with its fons, who are tall as woody Lumon; Lumon which fends, from its top, a thousand streams, white-wandering down its fides.”.

It may, perhaps, be for the credit of this bard, to translate no more of this poem, for the continuation of

« PreviousContinue »