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AN EPIC POEM.
The blue waves of Erin roll in light. The mountains are covered with day'. Trees shake their dusky heads in the breeze. Grey torrents pour their noisy streams. Two green hills, with aged oaks, surround a narrow plain. The blue
· The blue waves of Erin roll in light. The mountains are covered with day.] The descriptions in Ossian are often transcribed from Macpherson's early poems. The present is from the Hunter.
In dazzling light the foaming billows rolled,
course of a stream is there. On its banks stood Cairbar of Atha. His spear supports the king: the red eye of his fear is sad. Cormac rises in his soul, with all his ghastly wounds. The grey form of the youth appears in darkness. Blood pours from his airy sides. Cairbar thrice threw his spear on earth. Thrice he stroked his beard. His steps are short. He often stops 3. He tosses
2 Two green hills, with aged oaks, surround a narrow plain. The blue course of a stream is there.] Highlander, iii. 113.
Two rising hills, whose brows tall poplars grace,
And murmured softly through the underwood. 3 The red eye of his fear is sad--- His steps are short. He often stops, &c.] Color ei exsanguis : fædi oculi ; citus modo, modo tardus incessus. SALLUST. But Macpherson, in the attitude and actions of Cairbar, had Shakspeare's description of Cardinal Wolsey particularly in view. “Cormac rises in his soul with all his ghastly wounds.---Cairbar thrice threw his spear on earth. Thrice he stroaked his beard. His steps are short. He often stops. He tosses his sinewy arms. He is like a cloud in the desert, varying its form to every blast.” Hen. VIII. act ii. sc. 2.
Some strange commotion
his sinewy arms. He is like a cloud in the desert, varying its form to every blast. The valleys are sad around, and fear, by turns, the shower! The king, at length, resumed his soul. He took his pointed spear. He turned his eye to Moi-lena. The scouts of blue ocean came. They came with steps of fear, and often looked behind. Cairbar knew that the mighty were near! He called his gloomy chiefs.
The sounding steps of his warriors came. They drew, at once, their swords. There Morlath stood with darkened face. Hidalla's long hair sighs in wind. Red-haired Cormar bends on his spear, and rolls his side-long-looking eyes. Wild is the look of Malthos from beneath two shaggy brows. Foldath stands, like an oozy rock, that
His eye against the moon : in most strange postures
We have seen him set himself. “ Like a cloud in the desert, varying its form to every blast."
4 Mór-lath, great in the day of battle. Hidalla’, mildly looking hero. Cor-mar, expert at sea. Málth-os, slow to speak. Foldath, generous. Mór-annal, strong-breath ; a very proper name for a scout. MACPHERSON.
Morannal, a prolongation of Moran, the scout of ocean in Fingal. The opening, the incidents, and the characters, are, with little variation, a repetition from Fingal.
covers its dark sides with foam 5. His like Slimora's fir, that meets the wind of heaven. His shield is marked with the strokes of battle. His red eye despises danger. These, and a thousand other chiefs, surrounded the king of Erin, when the scout of ocean came, Mor-annal, from streamy Moi-lena. His eyes hang forward from his face. His lips are trembling, pale !
“Do the chiefs of Erin stand,” he said, “silent as the grove of evening ? Stand they, like a silent wood, and Fingal on the coast ? Fingal, who is terrible in battle, the king of streamy Morven ?” “Hast thou seen the warrior?” said Cairbar, with a sigh. “Are his heroes many on the coast? Lifts he the spear of battle? Or comes the king in peace ?” In peace he comes not, king of Erin.
I have seen his forward spear. It is a meteor of death. The blood of
5 Foldath stands like an oozy rock, that covers its dark sides with foam.] Fingal, iii. 12. Æneid, vii. 586.
Ille velut pelagi rupes immota resistit.
Scopuli nequidquam et spumea circum Saxa fremunt, lateri illisa refunditur alga. 6 Mor-annal here alludes to the particular appearance of Fingal's spear. If a man, upon his first landing in a strange country, kept the point of his spear forward, it denoted, in
thousands is on its steel. He came first to the shore, strong in the grey-hair of age. Full rose his sinewy limbs, as he strode in his might. That sword is by his side, which gives no second wound. His shield is terrible, like the bloody moon, ascending through a storm. Then came Ossian, king of songs. Then Morni's son, the first of men. Connal leaps forward on his spear. Dermid spreads his dark-brown locks. Fillan bends his bow, the young hunter of streamy Moruth. But who is that before them?, like the
those days, that he came in a hostile manner, and, accordingly, he was treated as an enemy; if he kept the point behind bim, it was a token of friendship, and he was immediately invited to the feast, according to the hospitality of the times. MACPHERSON.
Hector's spear, held transversely by the middle, is the signal for a parley in the Iliad ; and Fingal's forward, or reverted spear, is now the signal of war or peace.
7 In some traditions, Fergus, the son of Fingal, and Usnoth, chief of Etha, immediately follow Fillan in the list of the chiefs of Morven; but as they are not afterwards mentioned at all in the poem, I look upon the whole sentence to be an interpolation, and have therefore rejected it. MACPHERSON, 1st edit.
In the first book of Temora annexed to Fingal, in 1762, the passage partly rejected as an interpolation, stood originally thus :
“Fillan bends his bow : Fergus strides in the pride of youth. Who is that with aged locks ? A dark shield is on his side. His spear trembles at every step; and age is on his limbs. He bends