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Fragments Of Ancient Poetry, Fragment VI

James Macpherson 1736 (Ruthven) – 1796 (Inverness)



Son of the noble Fingal, Oscian,
Prince of men! what tears run down
the cheeks of age? what shades thy
mighty soul?

Memory, son of Alpin, memory
wounds the aged. Of former times are
my thoughts; my thoughts are of the
noble Fingal. The race of the king return
into my mind, and wound me with
remembrance.

One day, returned from the sport of
the mountains, from pursuing the sons
of the hill, we covered this heath with
our youth. Fingal the mighty was here,
and Oscur, my son, great in war. Fair
on our sight from the sea, at once, a
virgin came. Her breast was like the
snow of one night. Her cheek like the
bud of the rose. Mild was her blue
rolling eye: but sorrow was big in her
heart.

Fingal renowned in war! she cries,
sons of the king, preserve me! Speak secure,
replies the king, daughter of beauty,
speak: our ear is open to all: our
swords redress the injured. I fly from
Ullin, she cries, from Ullin famous in
war. I fly from the embrace of him
who would debase my blood. Cremor,
the friend of men, was my father; Cremor
the Prince of Inverne.

Fingal's younger sons arose; Carryl
expert in the bow; Fillan beloved of
the fair; and Fergus first in the race.
--Who from the farthest Lochlyn?
who to the seas of Molochasquir? who
dares hurt the maid whom the sons of
Fingal guard? Daughter of beauty, rest
secure; rest in peace, thou fairest of women.

Far in the blue distance of the deep,
some spot appeared like the back of the
ridge-wave. But soon the ship increased
on our sight. The hand of Ullin drew
her to land. The mountains trembled
as he moved. The hills shook at his
steps. Dire rattled his armour around
him. Death and destruction were in his
eyes. His stature like the roe of Morven.
He moved in the lightning of
steel.

Our warriors fell before him,
like the field before the reapers. Fingal's
three sons he bound. He plunged
his sword into the fair-one's breast.
She fell as a wreath of snow before the
sun in spring. Her bosom heaved in
death; her soul came forth in blood.
Oscur my son came down; the
mighty in battle descended. His armour
rattled as thunder; and the lightning of
his eyes was terrible. There, was the
clashing of swords; there, was the voice
of steel. They struck and they thrust;
they digged for death with their swords.
But death was distant far, and delayed
to come. The sun began to decline;
and the cow-herd thought of home.
Then Oscur's keen steel found the heart
of Ullin. He fell like a mountain-oak
covered over with glittering frost: He
shone like a rock on the plain.--Here
the daughter of beauty lieth; and
here the bravest of men. Here one
day ended the fair and the valiant.
Here rest the pursuer and the pursued.

Son of Alpin! the woes of the aged
are many: their tears are for the past.
This raised my sorrow, warriour; memory
awaked my grief. Oscur my
son was brave; but Oscur is now no
more. Thou hast heard my grief, O
son of Alpin; forgive the tears of the
aged.
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Submitted on August 03, 2020

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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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