« PreviousContinue »
- I STARTED from the dream of ghofts. On a fudden blast flew my whiftling hair. Lowfounding, in the oak, is the departure of the dead. I took my fhield from its bough. Onward came the rattling of fteel. It was Ofcar * of Lego. He had feen his fathers.
As rushes forth the blaft, on the bofom of whitening waves; fo careless fhall my courfe be, thro' ocean, to the dwelling of foes. I have feen the dead, my father. My beating foul is high. My fame is bright before me, like the ftreak of light on a cloud, when the broad fun comes forth, red traveller of the sky.
GRANDSON of Branno, I faid; not Ofcar alone shall meet the foe. I rush forward, thro' ocean, to the woody dwelling of heroes. Let us contend, my fon, like eagles, from one rock; when they lift their broad wings, against the ftream of winds.-We raised our fails in Carmona. From three fhips, they marked my shield on the wave, as I looked on nightly Ton
* Oscar is here called Ofcar of Lego, from his mother being the daughter of Branno, a powerful chief, on the banks of that lake. It is remarkable that Offian addreffes no poem to Malvina, in which her lover Ofcar was not one of the principal actors. His attention to her, after the death of his fon, fhews that delicacy of fentiment is not confined, as fome fondly imagine, to our own polished times.
thena *, red wanderer between the clouds.Four days came the breeze abroad. Lumon came forward in mift. In winds were its hundmist, red groves. Sun-beams marked, at times, its brown fide. White, leapt the foamy ftreams from all its echoing rocks.
A GREEN field, in the bofom of hills, winds filent with its own blue-ftream. Here, midft the waving of oaks, were the dwellings of kings of old. But filence, for many dark-brown years, had fettled in graffy Rath-col†, for the race of heroes had failed, along the pleasant vale.-Duthcarmor was here, with his people, dark rider of the wave. Ton-thena had hid her head in the sky. He bound his white-bofomed fails. His
Ton-thena, fire of the wave, was that remarkable ftar, which as has been mentioned in the feventh book of Temora, directed the courfe of Larthon to Ire land. It seems to have been well known to thofe, who failed on that fea, which divides Ireland from South-Britain. As the courfe of Offian was along the coaft of Inis-huna, he mentions with propriety, that ftar which directed the voyage of the colony from that country to Ireland.
Rath col, woody field, does not appear to have been the refidence of Duth-carmor: he feems rather to have been forced thither by a ftorm; at least I fhould think that to be the meaning of the poet, from his expreffion, that Tin-thena had hid her head, and that he bound his whitebofomed fails; which is as much as to fay, that the weather was ftormy, and that Duth-carmor put in to the bay of Rathcol for fhelter.
course is on the hills of Rath-col, to the feats of
WE came. I fent the bard, with fongs, to call the foe to fight. Duth-carmor heard him, with joy. The king's foul was a beam of fire; a beam of fire, marked with fmoak, rushing, varied, thro' the bofom of night. The deeds of Duth-carmor were dark, tho' his arm was ftrong.
NIGHT came, with the gathering of clouds. By the beam of the oak we fat down. At a distance flood Cathlin of Clutha. I faw the changing foul of the ftranger. As fhadows fly over the field of grafs, fo various is Cathlin's cheek. It was fair, within locks, that rofe on Rath-col's wind. I did not ruth, amidst his foul, with my words. I bade the fong to rife.
* From this circumftance, fucceeding bards feigned that Cathlin, who is here in the disguife of a young warrior, had fallen in love with Duth carmor at a feast, to which he had been invited by her father. Her love was converted into deteftation for him, after he had murdered her father. But as thofe rain-bows of heaven are changeful, fay my authors, fpeaking of women, the felt the return of her former paffion, upon the approach of Duth-carmor's danger. -I myself, who think more favourably of the fex, must attribute the agitation of Cathlin's mind to her extream fenfibility to the injuries done her by Duth-carmor: and this opinion is favoured by the fequel of the ftory.
OSCAR of Lego, I faid, be thine the fecret hill, to night. Strike the fhield, like Morven's kings. With day, thou fhalt lead in war. From my rock, I fhall fee thee, Ofcar, a dreadful form afcending in fight, like the appearance of ghofts, amidst the ftorms they raife.Why fhould mine eyes return to the dim times of old, ere yet the fong had bursted forth, like the fudden rifing of winds. -But the years, that are paft, are marked with mighty deeds. As the nightly rider of waves looks up to Tonthena of beams: fo 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
*This paffage alludes to the well known cuftom among the ancient kings of Scotland, to retire from their army on the night preceding a battle.The ftory which Offian introduces in the next paragraph, concerns the fall of the Druids, of which I gave some account in the differtation prefixed to the preceding volume. It is faid in many old poems, that the Druids, in the extremity of their affairs, had folicited and obtained aid from Scandinavia. Among the auxiliaries there came many pretended magicians, which circumstance Offian alludes to, in his description of the fin of Loda.-Magic and incantation could not, however, prevail: for Trenmor, affifted by the valour of his fon Trathal, entirely broke the power of the Druids.
ftrife around with their red-rolling eyes.-Nor alone were the dwellers of rocks; a fon 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 midft of a leaflefs grove. Five ftones 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-crufted moon was rolled behind her hill. Nor unheard of ghofts was he !-They came with the found 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 rifing light.-It was dark; and Loda's fon poured forth his figns, on night. The feeble were not before thee, fon of other lands!
*THEN rofe the ftrife of kings, about the hill of night; but it was foft as two fummer gales, fhaking their light wings, on a lake.
-Trenmor yielded to his fon; for the fame of the king was heard.-Trathal came forth before his father, and the foes failed, in echo
* Trenmor and Trathal. Offian introduced this epifode, as an example to his fon, from ancient times.