« PreviousContinue »
halves, their mighty deeds: and turn their eyes on Erin. But far before the reft the son of Morni ftood; filent he flood, for who had not heard of the battles of Gaul? They rofe within his foul. His hand, in fecret, feized the fword. The fword which he brought from Strumon, when the ftrength of Morni failed*. ΟΝ
* Strumon, fiream of the bill, the name of the feat of the family of Gaul, in the neighbourhood of Selma. During Gaul's expedition to Tromathon, mentioned in the poem of Oithona, Morni his father died. Morni ordered the fword of Strumen, (which had been preferved, in the family, as a relique, from the days of Colgach, the most renowned of his ancestors) to be laid by his fide, in the tomb; at the fame time, leaving it in charge to his fon, not to take it from thence, till he was reduced to the laft extremity. Not long after, two of his brothers being flain, in battle, by Coldaronnan, chief of Clutha, Gaul went to his father's tomb to take the sword. His addrefs to the fpirit of the deceafed hero, is the only part now remaining, of a poem of Offian, on the subject. I fhall here lay it before the reader.
"Breaker of echoing fhields, whofe head is deep, in fhades; hear me from the darknefs of Clora, O fon of Colgach, hear!
No rustling, like the eagle's wing, comes over the courfe of my ftreams. Deep-bofomed in the mift of the defart, O king of Strumon, hear!
ON his fpear ftood the fon of Clatho in * the wandering of his locks. Thrice he raised
Dwelleft thou in the fhadowy breeze, that pours its dark wave over the grafs? Cease to ftrew the beard of the thiftle; O chief of Clora, hear!
Or rideft thou on a beam, amidst the dark trouble of clouds? Poureft thou the loud wind on feas, to roll their blue waves over ifles? hear me, father of Gaul; amidst thy terrors, hear!
The rustling of eagles is heard, the murmuring oaks shake their heads on the hills: dreadful and pleasant is thy approach, friend of the dwelling of heroes.
Who awakes me, in the midst of my cloud, where my locks of mift fpread on the winds? Mixed with the noise of streams, why rifes the voice of Gaul?
My foes are around me, Morni: their dark ships defcend from their waves. Give the fword of Strumon, that beam which thou hideft in thy night.
Take the fword of refounding Strumon; I look on thy war, my fon; I look, a dim meteor, from my cloud: blue-fhielded Gaul, destroy."
* Clatho was the daughter of Cathulla, king of Inistore. Fingal, in one of his expeditions to that ifland, fell in love with Clatho, and took her to wife, after the death of Roscrána, the daughter of Cormac, king of Ireland.
Clatho was the mother of Ryno, Fillan, and Bofmina, mentioned in the battle of Lora, one of the leffer poems printed in Vol. I. Fillan is often called the son of Clatho, to distinguish him from those sons which Fingal had by Ros-crana.
his eyes to Fingal: his voice thrice failed him, as he spoke.---Fillan could not boast of battles; at once he ftrode away. Bent over a diftant ftream he ftood: the tear hung in his eye. He ftruck, at times, the thiftle's head, with his inverted fpear.
NOR is he unfeen of Fingal. Sidelong he beheld his fon. He beheld him, with burfting joy; and turned, amidst his crowded foul. In filence turned the king towards Mora of woods. He hid the big tear with his locks.---At length his voice is heard.
FIRST of the fons of Morni; thou rock that defieft the ftorm! Lead thou my battle, for
Gaul, the fon of Morni, next to Fingal, is the most renowned character introduced by Offian in his poems. He is, like Ajax in the Iliad, diftinguished by his manly taciturnity. The honourable epithets bestowed on him here, by Fingal, are amazingly expreffive in the original. There is not a paffage in all Temora, which lofes fo much in the tranflation as this. The firft part of the speech is rapid and irregular, and is peculiarly calculated to animate the foul to war.-Where the king addresses Fillan, the verfification changes to a regular and smooth measure. The first is like torrents rufhing over broken rocks; the second like the courfe of a full-flowing river, calm but majeftic. This inftance ferves to fhew, how much it affifts a poet to alter the meafure, according to the particular paffion, that he intends to excite in his reader.
the race of low-laid Cormac. No boy's ftaff is thy fpear no harmless beam of light thy fword. Son of Morni of fteeds, behold the foe; deftroy.Fillan, obferve the chief: he is not calm in ftrife: nor burns he, heedlefs, in battle; my fon, obferve the king. He is ftrong as Lubar's ftream, but never foams and roars. High on cloudy Mora, Fingal fhall behold the war. Stand, Offian*, near thy father, by the falling ftream.---Raife the voice, O bards; Morven, move beneath the found. It is my latter field; clothe it over with light.
As the fudden rifing of winds; or diftant rolling of troubled feas, when fome dark ghoft, in wrath, heaves the billows over an ifle, the feat of mift, on the deep, for many dark-brown years: fo terrible is the found of the hoft, widemoving over the field. Gaul is tall before them the streams glitter within his ftrides. The bards raised the fong by his fide; he ftruck his fhield between. On the fkirts of the blaft, the tuneful voices rofe.
ON Crona, faid the bards, there burfts a ftream by night. It fwells, in its own dark
* Ullin being fent to Morven with the body of Ofcar, Offian attends his father, in quality of chief bard.
courfe, till morning's early beam. Then comes: it white from the hill, with the rocks and their hundred groves. Far be Far be my steps from Crona: Death is tumbling there. Be ye a ftream from Mora, fons of cloudy Morven.
WHO rifes, from his car, on Clutha? The hills are troubled before the king! The dark woods echo round, and lighten at his fteel. See him, amidft the foe, like Colgach's* fportful ghoft; when he fcatters the clouds, and
*There are fome traditions, but, I believe, of late invention, that this Colgach was the fame with the Galgacus of Tacitus. He was the ancestor of Gaul, the fon of Morni, and appears, from fome, really ancient, traditions, to have been king, or Vergobret, of the Caledo nians; and hence proceeded the pretenfions of the family of Morni to the throne, which created a good deal of difturbance, both to Comhal and his fon Fingal. The first was killed in battle by that tribe; and it was after Fingal was grown up, that they were reduced to obedience. Colgach fignifies fiercely-looking; which is a very proper name for a warrior, and is probably the origin of Galgacus; tho' I believe it a matter of mere conjecture, that the Colgach here mentioned was the fame with that hero.-I cannot help obferving, with how much propriety the fong of the bards is conducted. Gaul, whofe experience might have rendered his conduct cautious in war, has the example of his father, juft rushing to battle, fet before his eyes. Fillan, on the other hand, whofe youth might make him impetuous and unguarded in action, is put in mind of the fedate and ferene behaviour of Fingal upon like occafions.