Book Eight

Pages 469-478 of the 1856 Boston Edition
Book I
Book II
Book III
Book IV
Book V
Book VI
Book VII




The fourth morning, from the opening of the poem, comes on. Fingal, still continuing in the place to which he had retired on the preceding night, is seen, at intervals, through the mist which covered the rock of Cormul. The descent of the king is described. He orders Gaul, Dermid, and Carril the bard, to go to the valley of Cluna, and conduct from thence, to the Caledonian army, Ferad-artho, the son of Cairbre, the only person remaining of the family of Conor, the first king of Ireland. The king takes the command of the army, and prepares for battle. Marching towards the enemy, he comes to the cave of Lubar, where the body of Fillan lay. Upon seeing his dog Bran, who lay at the entrance of the cave, his grief returns. Cathmor arranges the Irish army in order of battle. The appearance of that hero. The general conflict is described. The actions of Fingal and Cathmor. A storm. The total rout of the Firbolg. The two kings engage, in a column of mist, on the banks of Lubar. Their attitude and conference after the combat. The death of Cathmor. Fingal resigns the spear of Trenmor to Ossian. The ceremonies observed on that occasion. The spirit of Cathmor, in the mean time, appears to Sul-malla, in the valley of Lona. Her sorrow. Evening comes on. A feast is prepared. The coming of Ferad-artho is announced by the songs of a hundred bards. The poem closes with a speech of Fingal.


As when the wintry winds have seized the waves of the mountain-lake, have

seized them, in stormy night, and clothed them over with ice; white, to the

hunter's early eye, the billows still seem to roll. He turns his ear to the sound

of each unequal ridge. But each is silent, gleaming, strewn with boughs and

tufts of grass, which shake and whistle to the wind, over their gray seats of

frost. So silent shone to the morning the ridges of Morven's host, as each

warrior looked up from his helmet towards the hill of the king; the cloud-

covered hill of Fingal, where he strode, in the folds of mist. At times is the

hero seen, greatly dim in all his arms. From thought to thought rolled the

war, along his mighty soul.


Now is the coming forth of the king. First appeared the sword of Luno; the

spear half issuing from a cloud, the shield still dim in mist. But when the

stride of the king came abroad, with all his gray, dewy locks in the wind; then

rose the shouts of his host over every moving tribe. They gathered, gleaming,

round, with all their echoing shields. So rise the green seas round a spirit,

that comes down from the squally wind. The traveler hears the sound afar,

and lifts his head over the rock. He looks on the troubled bay, and thinks he

dimly sees the form. The waves sport, unwieldy, round, with all their backs

of foam.


Far distant stood the son of Morni, Duthno's race, and Cona's bard. We stood

far-distant; each beneath his tree. We shunned the eyes of the king; we had

not conquered in the field. A little stream rolled at my feet: I touched its light

wave, with my spear. I touched it with my spear; nor there was the soul of

Ossian. It darkly rose, from thought to thought, and sent abroad the sigh.


"Son of Morni," said the king, "Dermid, hunter of roes! why are ye dark, like

two rocks, each with its trickling waters? No wrath gathers on Fingal's soul,

against the chiefs of men. Ye are my strength in battle; the kindling of my joy

in peace. My early voice has been a pleasant gale to your ears, when Fillan

prepared the bow. The son of Fingal is not here, nor yet the chase of the

bounding roes. But why should the breakers of shields stand, darkened, far



Tall they strode towards the king: they saw him turned to Mora's wind. His

tears came down, for his blue-eyed son, who slept in the cave of streams. But

he brightened before them, and spoke to the broad-shielded kings.


"Crommal, with woody rocks, and misty top, the field of winds, pours forth,

to the sight, blue Lubar's streamy roar. Behind it rolls clear-winding Lavath,

in the still vale of deer. A cave is dark in a rock; above it strong-winged

eagles dwell; broad-headed oaks, before it sound in Cluna's wind.

Within, in his locks of youth, is Ferad-artho, blue-eyed king, the son

of broad-shielded Cairbar, from Ullin of the roes. He listens to the voice

of Condan, as, gray, he bends in feeble light. He listens; for his foes dwell

in the echoing halls of Temora. He comes, at times, abroad, in the skirts

of mist, to pierce the bounding roes. When the sun looks on the field, nor by

the rock, nor stream, is he! He shuns the race of Bolga, who dwell in his

father's hall. Tell him, that Fingal lifts the spear, and that his foes, perhaps,

may fail.


"Lift up, O Gaul, the shield before him. Stretch, Dermid, Temora's spear. Be

thy voice in his ear, O Carril, with the deeds of his fathers. Lead him to green

Moi-lena, to the dusky field of ghosts; for there, I fall forward, in battle, in the

folds of war. Before dun night descends, come to high Dunmora's top. Look,

from the gray skirts of mist, on Lena of the streams. If there my standard shall

float on wind, over Lubar's gleaming stream, then has not Fingal failed in the

last of his fields."


Such were his words; nor aught replied the silent striding kings. They looked,

side-long, on Erin's host, and darkened, as they went. Never before had they

left the king, in the midst of the stormy field. Behind them, touching at times

his harp, the gray-haired Carril moved. He foresaw the fall of the people, and

mournful was the sound! It was like a breeze that comes, by fits, over Lego's

reedy lake; when sleep half-descends on the hunter, within his mossy cave.


"Why bends the bard of Cona," said Fingal, "over his secret stream? Is this a

time for sorrow, father of low-laid Oscar? Be the warriors remembered

in peace; when echoing shields are heard no more. Bend, then, in grief,

over the flood, where blows the mountain breeze. Let them pass on thy soul,

the blue-eyed dwellers of the tomb. But Erin rolls to war; wide-tumbling,

rough, and dark. Lift, Ossian, lift the shield. I am alone, my son!"


As comes the sudden voice of winds to the becalmed ship of Inis-huna, and

drives it large, along the deep, dark rider of the wave; so the voice of Fingal

sent Ossian, tall, along the heath. He lifted high his shining shield, in the

dusky wing of war: like the broad, blank moon, in the skirt of a cloud, before

the storms arise.


Loud, from moss-covered Mora, poured down at once the broad-winged war.

Fingal led his people forth, king of Morven of streams. On high spreads the

eagle's wing. His gray hair is poured on his shoulders broad. In thunder are

his mighty strides. He often stood, and saw behind, the wide-gleaming rolling

of armour. A rock he seemed, gray over with ice, whose woods are high in

wind. Bright streams leap from its head, and spread their foam on blasts.

Now he came to Lubar's cave, where Fillan darkly slept. Bran still lay on the

broken shield: the eagle-wing is strewed by the winds. Bright, from withered

furze, looked forth the hero's spear. Then grief stirred the soul of the king,

like whirlwinds blackening on a lake. He turned his sudden step, and leaned

on his bending spear.


White-breasted Bran came bounding with joy to the known path of Fingal.

He came, and looked towards the cave, where the blue-eyed hunter lay, for he

was wont to stride, with morning, to the dewy bed of the roe. It was then the

tears of the king came down, and all his soul was dark. But as the rising wind

rolls away the storm of rain, and leaves the white streams to the sun, and high

hills with their heads of grass: so the returning war brightened the mind of

Fingal. He bounded, on his spear, over Lubar, and struck his echoing shield.

His ridgy host bend forward, at once, with all their pointed steel.


Nor Erin heard, with fear, the sound: wide they came rolling along. Dark

Malthos, in the wing of war, looks forward from shaggy brows. Next rose that

beam of light Hidalla; then the side-long-looking gloom of Maronnan. Blue-

shielded Clonar lifts the spear; Cormar shakes his bushy locks on the wind.

Slowly, from behind a rock, rose the bright form of Atha. First appeared his

two pointed spears, then the half of his burnished shield: like the rising of a

nightly meteor, over the vale of ghosts. But when he shone all abroad: the

hosts plunged, at once, into strife. The gleaming waves of steel are poured on

either side.


As meet two troubled seas, with the rolling of all their waves, when they feel

the wings of contending winds, in the rock-sided firth of Lumon; along the

echoing hills is the dim course of ghosts: from the blast fall the torn groves

on the deep, amidst the foamy path of whales. So mixed the hosts! Now

Fingal; now Cathmor came abroad. The dark tumbling of death is before

them: the gleam of broken steel is rolled on their steps, as, loud, the high-

bounding kings hewed down the ridge of shields.


Maronnan fell, by Fingal, laid large across a stream. The waters gathered by

his side, and leapt gray over his bossy shield. Clonar is pierced by Cathmor:

nor yet lay the chief on earth. An oak seized his hair in his fall. His helmet

rolled on the ground. By its thong, hung his broad shield; over it wandered

his streaming blood. Tla-min shall weep, in the hall, and strike her heaving



Nor did Ossian forget the spear, in the wing of his war. He strewed the field

with dead. Young Hidalla came. "Soft voice of streamy Clonra! Why dost

thou lift the steel? O that we met, in the strife of song, in thy own rushy

vale!" Malthos beheld him low, and darkened as he rushed along. On either

side of a stream, we bend in the echoing strife. Heaven comes rolling down:

around burst the voices of squally winds. Hills are clothed, at times, in fire.

Thunder rolls in wreaths of mist. In darkness shrunk the foe: Morven's

warriors stood aghast. Still I bent over the stream, amidst my whistling locks.

Then rose the voice of Fingal, and the sound of the flying foe. I saw the king,

at times, in lightning, darkly-striding in his might. I struck my echoing

shield, and hung forward on the steps of Alnecma: the foe is rolled before me,

like a wreath of smoke.


The sun looked forth from his cloud. The hundred streams of Moi-lena

shone. Slow rose the blue columns of mist, against the glittering hill. "Where

are the mighty kings? Nor by that stream, nor wood, are they! I hear the clang

of arms! Their strife is in the bosom of that mist. Such is the contending of

spirits in a nightly cloud, when they strive for the wintry wings of wind, and

the rolling of the foam-covered waves.


I rushed along. The gray mist rose. Tall, gleaming, they stood at Lubar.

Cathmor leaned against a rock. His half-fallen shield received the stream, that

leapt from the moss above. Towards him is the stride of Fingal: he saw the

hero's blood. His sword fell slowly to his side. He spoke, midst his darkening



"Yields the race of Borbar-duthul? Or still does he lift the spear? Not unheard

is thy name, at Atha, in the green dwelling of strangers. It has come, like the

breeze of his desert, to the ear of Fingal. Come to my hill of feasts: the mighty

fail, at times. No fire am I to low-laid foes: I rejoice not over the fall of the brave.

To close the wound is mine: I have known the herbs of the hills. I seized

their fair heads, on high, as they waved by their secret streams. Thou art

dark and silent, king of Atha of strangers.


"By Atha of the stream," he said, "there rises a mossy rock. On its head is the

wandering of boughs, within the course of winds. Dark, in its face, is a cave

with its own loud rill. There have I heard the tread of strangers, when they

passed to my hall of shells. Joy rose, like a flame, on my soul: I blest the

echoing rock. Here be my dwelling, in darkness; in my grassy vale. From this

I shall mount the breeze, that pursues my thistle's beard; or look down, on

blue-winding Atha, from its wandering mist."


"Why speaks the king of the tomb? Ossian! the warrior has failed! Joy meet

thy soul, like a stream, Cathmor, friend of strangers! My son, I hear the call of

years; they take my spear as they pass along. Why does not Fingal, they seem

to say, rest within his hall? Dost thou always delight in blood? In the tear of

the sad? No: ye dark-rolling years, Fingal delights not in blood. Tears are

wintry streams that waste away my soul. But, when I lie down to rest, then

comes the mighty voice of war. It awakes me, in my hall, and calls forth all

my steel. It shall call forth no more; Ossian, take thou thy father's spear. Lift

it, in battle, when the proud arise.


"My fathers, Ossian, trace my steps; my deeds are pleasant to their eyes.

Wherever I come forth to battle, on my field, are their columns of mist. But

mine arm rescued the feeble; the haughty found my rage was fire. Never over

the fallen did mine eye rejoice. For this, my fathers shall meet me, at the gates

of their airy halls, tall, with robes of light, with mildly-kindled eyes. But, to

the proud in arms, they are darkened moons in heaven, which send

the fire of night, red-wandering over their face.


"Father of heroes, Trenmor, dweller of eddying winds! I give thy spear to

Ossian, let thine eye rejoice. Thee have I seen, at times, bright from between

thy clouds; so appear to my son, when he is to lift the spear: then shall he

remember thy mighty deeds, though thou art now but a blast."


He gave the spear to my hand, and raised at once a stone on high, to speak to

future times, with its gray head of moss. Beneath he placed a sword in earth,

and one bright boss from his shield. Dark in thought, a-while, he bends: his

words, at length, came forth.


"When thou, O stone, shalt moulder down, and lose thee, in the moss of

years, then shall the traveler come, and, whistling, pass away. Thou knowest

not, feeble man, that fame once shone on Moi-lena. Here Fingal resigned his

spear, after the last of his fields. Pass away, thou empty shade; in thy voice

there is no renown. Thou dwellest by some peaceful stream; yet a few years,

and thou art gone. No one remembers thee, thou dweller of thick mist! But

Fingal shall be clothed with fame, a beam of light to other times; for he went

forth, in echoing steel, to save the weak in arms."


Brightening in his fame, the king strode to Lubar's sounding oak, where it

bent, from its rock, over the bright-tumbling stream. Beneath it is a narrow

plain, and the sound of the fount of the rock. Here the standard of Morven

poured its wreaths on the wind, to mark the way of Ferad-artho, from his

secret vale. Bright, from his parted west, the sun of heaven looked abroad.

The hero saw his people, and heard their shouts of joy. In broken ridges

round, they glittered to the beam. The king rejoiced, as a hunter in his own

green vale, when, after the storm is rolled away, he sees the gleaming

sides of the rocks. The green thorn shakes its head in their face;

from their top look forward the roes.


Gray, at his mossy cave, is bent the aged form of Clonmal. The eyes of the

bard had failed. He leaned forward, on his staff. Bright, in her locks, before

him, Sul-malla listened to the tale; the tale of the kings of Atha, in the days of

old. The noise of battle had ceased in his ear: he stopt, and raised the secret

sigh. The spirits of the dead, they said, often lightened along his soul. He saw

the king of Atha low, beneath his bending tree.


"Why art thou dark," said the maid? "The strife of arms is past. Soon shall he

come to thy cave, over thy winding streams. The sun looks from the rocks of

the west. The mists of the lake arise. Gray, they spread on that hill, the rushy

dwelling of roes. From the mist shall my king appear! Behold he comes in his

arms. Come to the cave of Clonmal, O my best beloved!"


It was the spirit of Cathmor, stalking, large, a gleaming form. He sunk by the

hollow stream that roared between the hills. "It was but the hunter," she said,

"who searches for the bed of the roe. His steps are not forth to war; his spouse

expects him with night. He shall, whistling, return with the spoils of the

dark-brown hinds." Her eyes were turned to the hill; again the stately form

came down. She rose, in the midst of joy. He retired again in mist. Gradual

vanish his limbs of smoke, and mix with the mountain-wind. Then she

knew that he fell! "King of Erin, art thou low!" Let Ossian forget her grief; it

wastes the soul of age.


Evening came down on Moi-lena. Gray rolled the streams of the land. Loud

came forth the voice of Fingal: the beam of oaks arose. The people gathered

round with gladness; with gladness blended with shades. They sidelong

looked to the king, and beheld his unfinished joy. Pleasant, from the way of

the desert, the voice of music came. It seemed, at first, the noise of a stream

far-distant on its rocks. Slow it rolled along the hill, like the ruffled wing of a

breeze, when it takes the tufted beard of the rocks, in the still season of night.

It was the voice of Condan, mixed with Carril's trembling harp. They came,

with blue-eyed Ferad-artho, to Mora of the streams.


Sudden bursts the song from our bards, on Lena: the host struck their shields

midst the sound. Gladness rose brightening on the king, like the beam of a

cloudy day, when it rises, on the green hill, before the roar of winds. He

struck the bossy shield of kings; at once they cease around. The people lean

forward, from their spears, towards the voice of their land.


"Sons of Morven, spread the feast; send the night away in song. Ye have

shone around me, and the dark storm is past. My people are the windy rocks,

from which I spread my eagle-wings, when I rush forth to renown, and seize

it on its field. Ossian, thou hast the spear of Fingal: it is not the staff of a boy,

with which he strews the thistle round, young wanderer of the field. No: it is

the lance of the mighty, with which they stretched forth their hands to death.

Look to thy fathers, my son; they are awful beams. With morning lead Ferad-

artho forth to the echoing halls of Temora. Remind him of the kings of Erin;

the stately forms of old. Let not the fallen be forgot, they were mighty in the

field. Let Carril pour his song, that the kings may rejoice in their mist. To-

morrow I spread my sails to Selma's shaded walls; where streamy Duthula

winds through the seats of roes."