James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


Fragments of Ancient Poetry

Collected in the Highlands of Scotland














MY love is a ſon of the hill. He purſues the flying deer. His grey dogs are panting around him; his bow-ſtring ſounds in the wind. Whether by the fount of the rock, or by the ſtream of the mountain thou lieſt; when the ruſhes are nodding with the wind, and the miſt is flying over thee, let me approach my love unperceived, and ſee him from the rock. Lovely I ſaw thee firſt by the aged oak; thou wert returning tall from the chace; the faireſt among thy friends. [p.10]



WHAT voice is that I hear? that voice like the ſummer-wind.—I ſit not by the nodding ruſhes; I hear not the fount of the rock. Afar, Vinvela, afar I go to the wars of Fingal. My dogs attend me no more. No more I tread the hill. No more from on high I ſee thee, fair-moving by the ſtream of the plain; bright as the bow of heaven; as the moon on the weſtern wave.



THEN thou art gone, O Shilric! and I am alone on the hill. The deer are ſeen on the brow; void of fear they graze along. No more they dread the wind; no more the ruſtling tree. The hunter is far removed; [p.11] he is in the field of graves. Strangers! ſons of the waves! ſpare my lovely Shilric.



IF fall I muſt in the field, raiſe high my grave, Vinvela. Grey ſtones, and heaped-up earth, ſhall murk me to future times. When the hunter ſhall ſit by the mound, and produce his food at noon, “ſome warrior reſts here,” he will ſay; and my fame ſhall live in his praiſe. Remember me, Vinvela, when low on earth I lie!



YES!—I will remember thee—indeed my Shilric will fall. What ſhall I do, my love! when thou art gone for ever? Through theſe hills I will go at noon: O will go through the ſilent heath. There [p.12] I will ſee where often thou ſatteſt returning from the chace. Indeed, my Shilric will fall; but I will remember him.