Imágenes de página

that frightens the kings of the world? But why should Carthon ask? for he is like the stream of his hills, strong as a river in his course, swift as the eagle of heaven. O that I had fought with the king, that my fame might be great in song! that the hunter, beholding my tomb, might say, he fought with the mighty Fingal. But Carthon dies unknown: he has poured out his force on the weak.

"But thou shalt not die unknown, replied the king of woody Morven my bards are many, O Carthon! their songs descend to future times. The children of years to come shall hear the fame of Carthon, when they sit round the burning oak, and the night is spent in songs of old. The hunter, sitting in the heath, shall hear the rustling blast, and, raising his eyes, behold the rock where Carthon fell. He shall turn to his son, and show the place where the mighty fought: There the king of Balclutha fought, like the strength of a thousand streams.'

"Joy rose in Carthon's face; he lifted his heavy eyes. He gave his sword to Fingal, to lie within his hall, that the memory of Balclutha's king might remain in Morven. The battle ceased along the field, the bard had sung the song of peace. The chiefs gathered round the falling Carthon : they heard his words with sighs. Silent they leaned on their spears, while Balclutha's hero spoke. His hair sighed in the wind, and his voice was sad and low.

"King of Morven,' Carthon said, I fall in the midst of my course. A foreign tomb receives, in youth, the last of Reuthamir's race. Darkness dwells in Balclutha; the shadows of grief in Crathmo. But raise my remembrance on the banks of Lora, where my fathers dwelt. Perhaps the husband of Moina will mourn over his fallen Carthon.' His words reached the heart of Clessammor: he fell in silence on his son. The host stood darkened around: no voice is on the plain. Night came the moon, from the east, looked on the mournful field; but still they stood, like a silent grove that lifts its head on Gormal, when the loud winds are laid, and dark autumn is on the plain.

"Three days they mourned above Carthon; on the fourth his father died. In the narrow plain of the rock they lie; a dim ghost defends their tomb. There lovely Moina is often seen, when the sunbeam darts on the rock, and all around is dark. There she is seen, Malvina; but not like the daughters of the hill. Her robes are from the stranger's land, and she is still alone!

Fingal was sad for Carthon; he commanded his bards to mark the day when shadowy autumn returned; and often did

[ocr errors]

they mark the day, and sing the hero's praise. Who comes so dark from ocean's roar, like autumn's shadowy cloud? Death is trembling in his hand! his eyes are flames of fire! Who roars along dark Lora's heath? Who but Carthon, king of swords! The people fall! see how he strides, like the sullen ghost of Morven! But there he lies a goodly oak, which sudden blasts overturned! When shalt thou rise, Balclutha's joy? When, Carthon, shalt thou arise? Who comes so dark from ocean's roar, like autumn's shadowy cloud?' Such were the words of the bards in the day of their mourning; Ossian often joined their voice, and added to their song. My soul has been mournful for Carthon: he fell in the days of his youth: and thou, O Clessammor! where is thy dwelling in the wind? Has the youth forgot his wound? Flies he on clouds with thee? I feel the sun, O Malvina! leave me to my rest. Perhaps they may come to my dreams; I think I hear a feeble voice! The beam of heaven delights to shine on the grave of Carthon: I feel it warm around!

"O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun! thy everlasting light? Thou comest forth in thy awful beauty; the stars hide themselves in the sky; the moon cold and pale, sinks in the western wave; but thou thyself movest alone. Who can be a companion of thy course? The oaks of the mountains fall; the mountains themselves decay with years; the ocean shrinks and grows again; the moon herself is lost in heaven: but thou art forever the same, rejoicing in the brightness of thy course. When the world is dark with tempests, when thunder rolls and lightning flies, thou lookest in thy beauty from the clouds, and laughest at the storm. But to Ossian thou lookest in vain, for he beholds thy beams no more whether thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west. But thou art, perhaps, like me, for a season: thy years will have an end. Thou shalt sleep in thy clouds, careless of the voice of the morning. Exult then, O sun! in the strength of thy youth! age is dark and unlovely; it is like the glimmering light of the moon, when it shines through broken clouds, and the mist is on the hills: the blast of the north is on the plain, the traveller shrinks in the midst of his journey."

All this, from beginning to end, we maintain, is poetry; the concluding famous address to the sun the very highest poetry- and you, who have sense and soul of your own, will, we are confident, continue to think and feel it to be so, notwithstanding all

the scorn that has been heaped against it, because of its resemblance to something glorious in Milton.

Homer was blind, and Milton was blind-Ossian could not help thatand he was blind too-without meaning the least in the world to be like them "in old age and the loss of eyes." As for Lucifer, he is not blind (we wish he were), and surely he may hate the beams of the sun, and say so till he is tired, in Miltonic blanks, as Tweedie calls them, without standing in the way of honest men's addresses to that luminary, whether presented by a Celt in the second, or a Saxon in the eighteenth century, and graciously accepted. No man was ever less like Lucifer after his fall out of the skylight than Ossian. Is his address to the sun natural? It is. How the devil, then, can it be like the Devil's? But it may be like Milton's? Yea -not merely may-but must! "To Ossian thou look'st in vain; for he beholds thy beams no more; whether thy yellow hair flows on the eastern clouds, or thou tremblest at the gates of the west."

"But thou

Revisitest not those eyes that roll in vain To find thy piercing light."

And so on. Just shut your eyes, delightful reader, and imagine them out. Muse a few minutes, and then effuse an unpremeditated address to the sun. Ay-there you murmur. Why, you are repeating Ossian's very words-Milton's very wordsthe words of every blind man that, since the creation, has saluted the morn. But, if published, would it prove equally affecting to the whole human race, as—

"Hail! holy light! offspring of Heaven's First-born," &c.


"O Thou that rulest above," &c. Send it to Blackwood, that all the world may judge. You pause, and hint that the subject is exhausted. What! the Sun? No, no-not the Sun. What then? Why, the subject. Well, then the subject-but when, and by whom? But we are pressing you too hard-you are an excellent creature, but no geniusso shut you mouth, and open your eyes, and whatever you may think of the authenticity, believe in the inspiration, of Ossian's poems.

Young hearts, we verily believe, are now-a-days the same as young hearts some fifty years ago, and often weep for Ossian. Not that he is blind, for they know that the blind may be perfectly happy-but because he is alone in this world. Throughout all his poetry they have a dim consciousness of thinking on himself-even when the song kindles into a brightest flame, they feel that the singer is sorrowful-the sadness, the humiliation of the present, hang over the gladness, the glory, of the past his life is almost death-like—a shadow on earth holding converse with shadows in the sky-moving from grave to grave so like one of themselves, as not to disturb the phantoms sitting there in the moonlight! "Dost thou not behold, Malvina, a rock with its head of heath? Three aged pines bend from its face: green is the narrow plain at its feet. Two stones, half sunk in the ground, show their heads of moss. The deer of the mountain avoids the place; for he beholds a dim ghost standing there. The mighty lie, O Malvina, in the narrow plain of the rock."

Malvina ! The name is sweet, but she is more than a name-but for her Ossian would soon be dead. We see her-always-at his side, or sitting a little way aloof-now a shadow-now a sunbeam-silence or music, still his only comfort; if for a while out of sight and out of hearing, never for one moment out of memory. "Pleasant is thy song in Ossian's ear, daughter of streamy Lutha!"

"It was the voice of my love! seldom art thou in the dreams of Malvina! Open your airy halls, O fathers of Toscar of shields! Unfold the gates of your clouds: the steps of Malvina are near. I have heard a voice in my dream. I feel the

fluttering of my soul. Why didst thou come, O blast! from the dark-rolling face of the lake? Thy rustling wing was in the tree; the dream of Malvina fled. But she beheld her love, when his robe of mist flew on the wind. A sunbeam was on his skirts, they glittered like the gold It was the voice of my love! seldom comes he to my dreams!

of the stranger.

"But thou dwellest in the soul of Malvina, son of mighty Ossian! My sighs arise with the beam of the east; my tears descend with the drops of night. I was a lovely tree, in thy presence, Oscar, with all my branches round me; but thy death

came like a blast from the desert, and laid my green head low. The spring returned with its showers; no leaf of mine arose! The virgins saw me silent in the hall; they touched the harp of joy. The tear was on the cheek of Malvina: the virgins beheld me in my grief. Why art thou sad? they said, thou first of the maids of Lutha? Was he lovely as the beam of the morning, and stately in thy sight?'

"Pleasant is thy song in Ossian's ear, daughter of streamy Lutha! Thou hast heard the music of departed bards in the dream of thy rest, when sleep fell on thine eyes, at the murmur of Moruth. When thou didst return from the chase, in the day of the sun, thou hast heard the music of bards, and thy song is lovely! It is lovely, O Malvina! but it melts the soul. There is a joy in grief when peace dwells in the breast of the sad. But sorrow wastes the mournful, O daughter of Toscar! and their days are few! They fall away, like the flower on which the sun hath looked in his strength, after the mildew has passed over it, when its head is heavy with the drops of night. Attend to the tale of Ossian, O maid! bers the days of his youth!

He remem

Read in tears, daughter of our love, the opening and the close of Berrathron-the last of Ossian's songs.


"Bend thy blue course, O stream! round the narrow plain of Lutha. Let the green woods hang over it, from their hills; the sun look on it at noon. The thistle is there on its rock, and shakes its beard to the wind. The flower hangs its heavy head, waving at times, to the gale. Why dost thou awake me, O gale?' it seems to say I am covered with the drops of heaven. The time of my fading is near, the blast that shall scatter my leaves. Tomorrow shall the traveller come: he that saw me in my beauty shall come. His eyes will search the field, but they will not find me,' So shall they search in vain for the voice of Cona, after it has failed in the field. The hunter shall come forth in the morning, and the voice of my harp shall not be heard.

'Where is the son of car-borne Fingal?' The tear will be on his cheek! Then come thou, O Malvina; with all thy music, come! Lay Ossian in the plain of Lutha let his tomb rise in the lovely field.

"Malvina! where art thou, with thy songs, with the soft sound of thy steps? Son of Alpin, art thou near? where is the daughter of Toscar? I passed, O son of Fingal, by Torlutha's mossy smoke of the hall was ceased. among the trees of the hill.

walls. The

Silence was The voice of

the chase was over. I saw the daughters of the bow. I asked about Malvina, but

they answered not. They turned their faces away thin darkness covered their beauty. They were like stars, on a rainy hill, by night, each looking faintly through her mist.'

"Pleasant be thy rest, O lovely beam! soon hast thou set on our hills! The steps of thy departure were stately, like the moon, on the blue-trembling wave. But thou hast left us in darkness, first of the maids of Lutha! We sit at the rock, and there is no voice; no light but the meteor of fire! Soon hast thou set, O Malvina, daughter of generous Toscar! But thou risest like the beam of the east, among the spirits of thy friends, where they sit, in their stormy halls, the chambers of the thunder! A cloud hovers over Cona. Its blue curling sides are high. The winds are beneath it, with their wings. Within it is the dwelling of Fingal. There the hero sits in darkness. His airy spear is in his hand. His shield, half-covered with clouds, is like the darkened moon; when one-half still remains in the wave, and the other looks sickly on the field!


"His friends sit around the king, on mist! They hear the songs of Ullin: he strikes the half-viewless harp. He raises the feeble voice. The lesser heroes, with a thousand meteors, light the airy hall. Malvina rises in the midst; a blush is on her cheek. She beholds the unknown faces of her fathers. She turns aside her humid eyes. Art thou come so soon?' said Fingal, daughter of generous Toscar ! Sadness dwells in the halls of Lutha. My aged son is sad! I hear the breeze of Cona, that was wont to lift thy heavy locks. It comes to the hall, but thou art not there. Its voice is mournful among the arms of thy fathers! Go, with thy rustling wing, O breeze! sigh on Malvina's tomb. It rises yonder beneath the rock, at the blue stream of Lutha. The maids are departed to their place. Thou alone, O breeze, mournest there!'

"But who comes from the dusky west, supported on a cloud? A smile is on his gray, watery face. His locks of mist fly on wind. He bends forward on his airy spear. It is thy father, Malvina! Why shinest thou, so soon, on our clouds,' he says, "O lovely light of Lutha? But thou wert sad, my daughter. Thy friends had passed away. The sons of little men were in the hall. None remained of the heroes, but Ossian king of spears!'

"And dost thou remember Ossian, carborne Toscar, son of Conloch? The battles of our youth were many. Our swords went together to the field. They saw us coming like two falling rocks. the stranger fled. There riors of Cona!' they said.

The sons of come the war• Their steps

are in the paths of the flying!' Draw near, son of Alpin, to the song of the aged. The deeds of other times are in my soul. My memory beams on the days that are past: on the days of mighty Toscar, when our path was in the deep. Draw near, son of Alpin, to the last sound of the voice of Cona!"

The son of Alpin must now be his guide, but not long-for Ossian may not survive Malvina. He sings to the son of the friend of his youth a dying song of his own deeds of old, and of Toscar, the father of her, the beloved one, now a ghost; and this is the farewell of Ossian.

"Such were my deeds, son of Alpin, when the arm of my youth was strong. Such the actions of Toscar, the car-borne son of Conloch. But Toscar is on his flying cloud. I am alone at Lutha. My voice is like the last sound of the wind, when it forsakes the woods. But Ossian shall not be long alone. He sees the mist that shall receive his ghost. He beholds the mist that shall form his robe, when he appears on his hills. The sons of feeble men shall behold me, and admire the stature of the chiefs of old. They shall creep to their caves. They shall look to the sky with fear for my steps shall be in the clouds. Darkness shall roll on my side.

"Lead, son of Alpin, lead the aged to his woods. The winds begin to rise. The dark wave of the lake resounds. Bends there not a tree from Mora with its branches bare? It bends, son of Alpin, in the rustling blast. My harp hangs on a blasted branch. The sound of its strings is mournful. Does the wind touch thee, O harp, or is it some passing ghost? It is the hand of Malvina ! Bring me the harp, son of Alpin. Another song shall rise. My soul shall depart in the sound. My fathers shall hear it in their airy hall. Their dim faces shall hang with joy from their clouds; and their hands receive their son. aged oak bends over the stream. It sighs with all its moss. The withered fern whistles near, and mixes, as it waves, with Ossian's hair.


"Strike the harp, and raise the song: be near, with all your wings, ye winds. Bear the mournful sound away to Fingal's airy hall. Bear it to Fingal's hall, that he may hear the voice of his son: the voice of him that praised the mighty!

"The blast of the north opens thy gates, O king! I behold thee sitting on mist dimly gleaming in all thine arms. Thy form now is not the terror of the valiant. It is like a watery cloud; when we see the stars behind it with their weeping eyes. Thy shield

is the aged moon: thy sword a vapour half kindled with fire. Dim and feeble is the chief who travelled in brightness before! But thy steps are on the winds of the desert. The storms are darkening in thy hand. Thou takest the sun in thy wrath, and hidest him in thy clouds. The sons of little men are afraid. A thousand showers descend. But when thou comest forth in thy mildness, the gale of the morning is near thy course. The sun laughs in his blue fields. The gray stream winds in its vale. The bushes shake their green heads

in the wind.

The roes bound toward the


desert. "There is a murmur in the heath! the stormy winds abate! I hear the voice of Fingal. Long has it been absent from mine ear! "Come, Ossian, come away, he says. Fingal has received his fame. passed away, like flames that had shone for a season. Our departure was in renown. Though the plains of our battles are dark and silent, our fame is in the four gray stones. The voice of Ossian has been heard. The harp has been strung in Selma. "Come, Ossian, come away," he says; 66 come, fly with thy fathers on clouds." I come, I come, thou king of men!

The life of Os

sian fails. I begin to vanish on Cona. My steps are not seen in Selma. Beside the stone of Mora I shall fall asleep. The winds whistling in my gray hair, shall not awaken me. Depart on thy wings, O wind, thou canst not disturb the rest of the bard. The night is long, but his eyes are heavy. Depart, thou rustling blast.

But why art thou sad, son of Fingal ? Why grows the cloud of thy soul? The chiefs of other times are departed. They have gone without their fame. The sons

of future years shall pass away. Another race shall arise. The people are like the waves of ocean; like the leaves of woody Morven, they pass away in the rustling blast, and other leaves lift their green heads on high.

"Did thy beauty last, O Ryno? Stood the strength of car-borne Oscar? Fingal himself departed! The halls of his fathers forgot his steps. Shalt thou then remain,

thou aged bard! when the mighty have failed? But my fame shall remain, and grow like the oak of Morven; which lifts its broad head to the storm, and rejoices in the course of the wind.'

And now, our good children, when asked, HAVE YOU READ OSSIAN? you will answer, "Yes-at the feet of Christopher." The mirthful are often the most melancholy, and know best that there is" a joy in grief." That is the chief charm of the poetry at which you have now been looking, as at the

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

Edinburgh: Printed by Ballantyne and Hughes, Paul's Work.

« AnteriorContinuar »