|Pages 443-451 of the 1856 Boston Edition|
The poet, after a short address to the harp of Cona, describes the arrangement of both armies on either side of the river Lubar. Fingal gives the command to Fillan; but, at the same time, orders Gaul, the son of Morni, who had been wounded in the hand in the preceding battle, to assist him with his counsel. The army of the Fir-bolg is commanded by Foldath. The general onset is described. The great actions of Fillan. He kills Rothmar and Culmin. But when Fillan conquers, in one wing, Foldath presses hard on the other. He wounds Dermid, the son of Duthno, and puts the whole wing to flight. Dermid deliberates with himself, and, at last, resolves to put a stop to the progress of Foldath, by engaging him in single combat. When the two chiefs were approaching towards one another, Fillan came suddenly to the relief of Dermid; engaged Foldath, and killed him. The behaviour of Malthos towards the fallen Foldath. Fillan puts the whole army of the Fir-bolg to flight. The book closes with an address to Clatho, the mother of that hero.
Thou dweller between the shields, that hang on high in Ossian's hall!
Descend from thy place, O harp, and let me hear thy voice! Son of Alpin,
strike the string. Thou must awake the soul of the bard. The murmur of
Lora's stream has rolled the tale away. I stand in the cloud of years. Few are its
openings toward the past; and when the vision comes, it is but dim and dark.
I hear thee, harp of Selma! my soul returns, like a breeze, which the sun
brings back to the vale, where dwelt the lazy mist.
Lubar is bright before me in the windings of its vale. On either side, on their
hills, rise the tall forms of the kings. Their people are poured around them,
bending forward to their words: as if their fathers spoke, descending from the
winds. But they themselves are like two rocks in the midst; each with its dark
head of pines, when they are seen in the desert, above low-sailing mist.
High on their face are streams, which spread their foam on blasts of wind!
Beneath the voice of Cathmor pours Erin, like the sound of flame. Wide they
come down to Lubar. Before them is the stride of Foldath. But Cathmor
retires to his hill, beneath his bending oak. The tumbling of a stream is near
the king. He lifts at times his gleaming spear. It is a flame to his people, in the
midst of war. Near him stands the daughter of Con-mor, leaning on a rock.
She did not rejoice at the strife. Her soul delighted not in blood. A valley
spreads green behind the hill, with its three blue streams. The sun is there in
silence. The dun mountain-roes come down. On these are turned the eyes of
Sul-malla in her thoughtful mood.
Fingal beholds Cathmor, on high, the son of Borbar-duthul! he beholds the
deep-rolling of Erin, on the darkened plain. He strikes that warning boss,
which bids the people to obey; when he sends his chiefs before them to the
field of renown. Wide rise their spears to the sun. Their echoing shields reply
around. Fear, like a vapour, winds not among the host: for he, the king, is
near, the strength of streamy Selma. Gladness brightens the hero. We hear
his words with joy.
"Like the coming forth of winds, is the sound of Selma's sons! They are
mountain waters determined in their course. Hence is Fingal renowned.
Hence is his name in other lands. He was not a lonely beam in danger; for
your steps were always near! But never was Fingal a dreadful form, in your
presence, darkened into wrath. My voice was no thunder to your ears. Mine
eyes sent forth no death. When the haughty appeared, I beheld them not.
They were forgot at my feasts. Like mist they melted away. A young beam is
before you! Few are his paths to war! They are few, but he is valiant. Defend
my dark-haired son. Bring Fillan back with joy. Hereafter he may stand alone.
His form is like his fathers. His soul is a flame of their fire. Son of car-borne
Morni, move behind the youth. Let thy voice reach his ear, from the skirts of war.
Not unobserved rolls battle, before thee, breaker of the shields."
The king strode, at once, away to Cormul's lofty rock. Intermitting, darts the
light, from his shield, as slow the king of heroes moves. Sidelong rolls his eye
o'er the heath, as forming advance the lines. Graceful, fly his half-gray locks,
round his kingly features, now lightened with dreadful joy. Wholly mighty is
the chief! Behind him dark and slow I moved. Straight came forward the
strength of Gaul. His shield hung loose on its thong. He spoke, in haste, to
Ossian. "Bind, son of Fingal, this shield! Bind it high to the side of Gaul. The
foe may behold it, and think I lift the spear. If I should fall, let my tomb be hid
in the field; for fall I must without fame. Mine arm cannot lift the steel. Let
not Evir-choma hear it, to blush between her locks. Fillan, the mighty, behold
us! Let us not forget the strife. Why should they come, from their hills, to aid
our flying field!"
He strode onward, with the sound of his shield. My voice pursued him, as he
went. "Can the son of Morni fall without his fame in Erin? But the deeds of
the mighty are forgot by themselves. They rush careless over the fields of
renown. Their words are never heard!" I rejoiced over the steps of the chief. I
strode to the rock of the king, where he sat in his wandering locks, amid the
In two dark ridges bend the hosts, toward each other, at Lubar. Here Foldath
rises a pillar of darkness: there brightens the youth of Fillan. Each with his
spear in the stream, sent forth the voice of war. Gaul struck the shield of
Selma. At once they plunge in battle! Steel pours its gleam on steel: like the fall
of streams shone the field, when they mix their foam together, from two
dark-browed rocks! Behold he comes, the son of fame! He lays the people low!
Death sits on blasts around him! Warriors strew thy paths, O Fillan!
Rothmar, the shield of warriors, stood between two chinky rocks. Two oaks,
which winds had bent from high, spread their branches on either side. He
rolls his darkening eyes on Fillan, and, silent, shades his friends. Fingal saw
the approaching fight. The hero's soul arose. But as the stone of Loda
falls, shook at once, from rocking Druman-ard, when spirits heave the earth
in their wrath; so fell blue-shielded Rothmar.
Near are the steps of Culmin. The youth came, bursting into tears. Wrathful
he cut the wind, ere yet he mixed his strokes with Fillan. He had first bent the
bow with Rothmar, at the rock of his own blue streams. There they had
marked the place of the roe, as the sun-beam flew over the fern. Why, son of
Cul-allin! Why, Culmin, dost thou rush on that beam of light? It is a fire that
consumes. Son of Cul-allin, retire. Your fathers were not equal, in the glittering
strife of the field. The mother of Culmin remains in the hall. She looks forth
on blue-rolling Strutha. A whirlwind rises, on the stream, dark-eddying round the
ghost of her son. His dogs are howling in their place. His shield is bloody
in the hall. "Art thou fallen, my fair-haired son, in Erin's dismal war?"
As a roe, pierced in secret, lies panting, by her wonted streams; the hunter
surveys her feet of wind: He remembers her stately bounding before. So lay
the son of Cul-allin, beneath the eye of Fillan. His hair is rolled in a little
stream. His blood wanders on his shield. Still his hand holds the sword, that
failed him in the midst of danger. "Thou art fallen," said Fillan, "ere yet thy
fame was heard. Thy father sent thee to war. He expects to hear of thy deeds.
He is gray, perhaps, at his streams. His eyes are toward Moi-lena. But thou
shalt not return, with the spoil of the fallen foe!"
Fillan pours the flight of Erin before him, over the resounding heath. But,
man on man, fell Morven before the dark-red rage of Foldath: for, far on the
field, he poured the roar of half his tribes. Dermid stands before him in
wrath. The sons of Selma gathered around. But his shield is cleft by Foldath.
His people fly over the heath.
Then said the foe, in his pride, "They have fled. My fame begins! Go,
Malthos, go bid Cathmor guard the dark-rolling of ocean; that Fingal may not
escape from my sword. He must lie on earth. Beside some fen shall his tomb
be seen. It shall rise without a song. His ghost shall hover, in mist, over the
Malthos heard, with darkening doubt. He rolled his silent eyes. He knew the
pride of Foldath. He looked up to Fingal on his hills: then darkly turning, in
doubtful mood, he plunged his sword in war.
In Clono's narrow vale, where bend two trees above the stream, dark, in his
grief, stood Duthno's silent son. The blood pours from the side of Dermid.
His shield is broken near. His spear leans against a stone. Why, Dermid, why
so sad? "I hear the roar of battle. My people are alone. My steps are slow on
the heath; and no shield is mine. Shall he then prevail? It is then after
Dermid is low! I will call thee forth, O Foldath, and meet thee yet in fight."
He took his spear, with dreadful joy. The son of Morni came. "Stay, son of
Duthno, stay thy speed. Thy steps are marked with blood. No bossy shield is
thine. Why shouldst thou fall unarmed?" "Son of Morni! give thou thy
shield. It has often rolled back the war. I shall stop the chief, in his course.
Son of Morni! behold that stone! It lifts its gray head through grass. There
dwells a chief of the race of Dermid. Place me there in night."
He slowly rose against the hill. He saw the troubled field: The gleaming ridges
of battle, disjoined and broken round. As distant fires, on heath by night, now
seen as lost in smoke; now rearing their red streams on the hill, as blow or
cease the winds: so met the intermitting war the eye of broad-shielded
Dermid. Through the host are the strides of Foldath, like some dark ship on
wintry waves, when she issues from between two isles, to sport on
Dermid, with rage, beholds his course. He strives to rush along. But he fails
amid his steps; and the big tear comes down. He sounds his father's horn. He
thrice strikes his bossy shield. He calls thrice the name of Foldath, from his
roaring tribes. Foldath, with joy, beholds the chief. He lifts aloft his bloody
spear. As a rock is marked with streams, that fell troubled down its side in a
storm; so, streaked with wandering blood, is the dark chief of Moma! The
host, on either side, withdraw from the contending of kings. They raise at
once, their gleaming points. Rushing comes Fillan of Selma. Three paces back
Foldath withdraws, dazzled with that beam of light, which came, as issuing
from a cloud, to save the wounded chief. Growing in his pride he stands. He
calls forth all his steel.
As meet two broad-winged eagles, in their sounding strife, in winds, so rush
the two chiefs on Moi-lena, into gloomy fight. By turns are the steps of the
kings forward on their rocks above; for now the dusky war seems to
descend on their swords. Cathmor feels the joy of warriors, on his mossy hill:
their joy in secret, when dangers rise to match their souls. His eye is not turned
on Lubar, but on Selma's dreadful king. He beholds him, on Mora, rising in his arms.
Foldath falls on his shield. The spear of Fillan pierced the king. Nor looks the
youth on the fallen, but onward rolls the war. The hundred voices of death
arise. "Stay, son of Fingal, stay thy speed. Beholdest thou not that gleaming
form, a dreadful sign of death? Awaken not the king of Erin. Return, son of
Malthos beholds Foldath low. He darkly stands above the chief. Hatred is
rolled from his soul. He seems a rock in the desert, on whose dark side are
the trickling of waters; when the slow-sailing mist has left it, and all its trees
are blasted with winds. He spoke to the dying hero, about the narrow house.
"Whether shall thy gray stone rise in Ullin, or in Moma's woody land?
where the sun looks, in secret, on the blue streams of Dalrutho? There are the
steps of thy daughter, blue-eyed Dardu-lena!"
"Rememberest thou her," said Foldath, "because no son 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. Raise the tombs of those I have slain, around my
narrow house. Often shall I forsake the blast, to rejoice above their graves;
when I behold them spread around, with their long-whistling grass."
His soul rushed to the vale of Moma, to Dardu-lena's dreams, where she
slept, by Dalrutho's stream, returning from the chase of the hinds. Her bow is
near the maid, unstrung. The breezes fold her long hair on her breasts.
Clothed in the beauty of youth, the love of heroes slay. Dark-bending from
the skirts of the wood, her wounded father seemed to come. He appeared, at
times, then hid himself in mist. Bursting in tears she rose. She knew that the
chief was low. To her came a beam from his soul, when folded in its storms.
Thou wert the last of his race, O blue-eyed Dardu-lena!
Wide-spreading over echoing Lubar, the flight of Bolga is rolled along. Fillan
hangs forward on their steps. He strews, with dead, the heath. Fingal rejoices
over his son. Blue-shielded Cathmor rose.
Son of Alpin, bring the harp. Give Fillan's praise to the wind. Raise high his
praise in mine ear, while yet he shines in war.
"Leave, blue-eyed Clatho, leave thy hall! Behold that early beam of thine! The
host is withered in its course. No further look, it is dark. Light-trembling
from the harp, strike, virgins, strike the sound. No hunter he descends, from
the dewy haunt of the bounding roe. He bends not his bow on the wind; nor
sends his gray arrow abroad.
"Deep-folded in red war! See battle roll against his side. Striding amid the
ridgy strife, he pours the deaths of thousands forth. Fillan is like a spirit of
heaven, that descends from the skirt of winds. The troubled ocean feels his
steps, as he strides from wave to wave. His path kindles behind him. Islands
shake their heads on the heaving seas! Leave, blue-eyed Clatho, leave thy