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Cathloda — Duan II

James Macpherson 1736 (Ruthven) – 1796 (Inverness)



Fingal, returning with day, devolves the command on Duth-maruno, who engages the enemy, and drives them over the stream of Turthor. Having recalled his people, he congratulates Duth-maruno on his success, but discovers that that hero had been mortally wounded in the action — Duth-maruno dies. Ullin, the bard in honor of the dead, introduces the episode of Colgorm and Strina-dona, which concludes this duan.

"WHERE art thou, son of the king?" said darkhaired Duth-maruno. "Where hast thou failed, young beam of Selma? He returns not from the bosom of night! Morning is spread on U-thorno. In his mist is the sun on his hill. Warriors, lift the shields in my presence. He must not fall like a fire from heaven, whose place is not marked on the ground. He comes like an eagle, from the skirt of his squally wind! in his hand are the spoil of foes. King of Selma, our souls were sad!"

"Near us are the foes, Duth-maruno. They come forward, like waves in mist, when their foamy tops are seen at times above the low-sailing vapor. The traveller shrinks on his journey; he knows not whither to fly. No trembling travellers are we! Sons of heroes call forth the steel. Shall the sword of Fingal arise, or shall a warrior lead?"

The deeds of old, said Duth-maruno, are like paths to our eyes, O Fingal! Broad-shielded Trenmor is still seen amidst his own dim years. Nor feeble was the soul of the king. There no dark deed wandered in secret. From their hundred streams came the tribes, to glassy Colglan-crona. Their chiefs were before them. Each strove to lead the war. Their swords were often half unsheathed. Red rolled their eyes of rage. Separate they stood, and hummed their surly songs. "Why should they yield to each other? their fathers were equal in war." Trenmor was there, with his people stately, in youthful locks. He saw the advancing foe. The grief of his soul arose. He bade the chiefs to lead by turns; they led, but they were rolled away. From his own mossy hill blue-shielded Trenmor came down. He led wide-skirted battle, and the strangers failed. Around him the dark-browed warriors came: they struck the shield of joy. Like a pleasant gale the words of power rushed forth from Selma of kings. But the chiefs led by turns, in war, till mighty danger rose: then was the hour of the king to conquer in the field.

"Not unknown," said Cromma-glas of shields, "are the deeds of our fathers. But who shall now lead the war before the race of kings? Mist settles on these four dark hills: within it let each warrior strike his shield. Spirits may descend in darkness, and mark us for the war." They went each to his hill of mist. Bards marked the sounds of the shields. Loudest rung thy boss Duth-maruno. Thou must lead in war!

Like the murmurs of waters the race of U-thorno came down. Starno led the battle, and Swaran of stormy isles. They looked forward from iron shields like Cruth-loda, fiery-eyed, when he looks from behind the darkened moon, and strews his signs on night. The foes met by Turthor's stream. They heaved like ridgy waves. Their echoing strokes are mixed. Shadowy death flies over the hosts. They were clouds of hail. with squally winds in their skirts. Their showers are roaring together. Below them swells the dark-rolling deep.

Strife of gloomy U-thorno, why should I mark thy wounds? Thou art with the years that are gone; thou fadest on my soul!

Starno brought forward his skirt of war, and Swaran his own dark wing. Nor a harmless fire is Duthmaruno's sword. Lochlin is rolled over her streams. The wrathful kings are lost in thought. They roll their silent eyes over the flight of their land. The horn of Fingal was heard; the sons of woody Albion returned. But many lay, by Turthor's stream, silent in their blood.

" Chief of Crathmo," said the king, " Duth-maruno, hunter of boars! not harmless returns my eagle from the field of foes! For this white-bosomed Lanul shall brighten at her streams; Candona shall rejoice as he wanders in Crathmo's fields."

" Colgorm," replied the chief, " was the first of my race in Albion; Colgorm, the rider of ocean; through Its watery vales. He slew his brother in I-thorno: he left the land of his fathers. He chose his place in silence, by rocky Crathmo-craulo. His race came forth in their years; they came forth to war, but they always fell. The wound of my fathers is mine, king of echoing isles!

He drew an arrow from his side! He fell pale in a land unknown. His soul came forth to his fathers, to their stormy isle. There they pursued boars of mist, along the skirts of winds. The chiefs stood silent around, as the stones of Loda, on their hill. The traveller sees them, through the twilight, from his lonely path. He thinks them the ghosts of the aged, forming future wars.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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James Macpherson

James Macpherson was a Scottish writer, poet, literary collector and politician, known as the "translator" of the Ossian cycle of poems. more…

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