James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


Fragments of Ancient Poetry

Collected in the Highlands of Scotland










AUTUMN is dark on the mountains; grey miſt reſts on the hills. The whirlwind is heard on the heath. Dark rolls the river through the narrow plain. A tree ſtands alone on the hill, and marks the grave of Connal. The leaves whirl round with the wind, and ſtrew the grave of the dead. At times are ſeen here the ghoſts of the deceaſed, when the muſing hunter alone ſtalks ſlowly over the heath.

WHO can reach the ſource of thy race, O Connal? and who recount thy Fathers? Thy family grew like an oak on the mountain, which meeteth the wind with its lofty head. But now it is torn from the earth. Who ſhall ſupply the place of Connal? [p.24]

HERE was the din of arms; and here the groans of the dying. Mournful are the wars of Fingal! O Connal! it was here thou didſt fall. Thine arm was like a ſtorm; thy ſword, a beam of the ſky; thy height, a rock on the plain; thine eyes, a furnace of fire. Louder than a ſtorm was thy voice, when thou confoundedſt the field. Warriors fell by thy ſword, as the thiſtle by the ſtaff of a boy.

DARGO the mighty came on, like a cloud of thunder. His brows were contracted and dark. His eyes like two caves in a rock. Bright roſe their ſwords on each ſide; dire was the clang of their ſteel.

THE daughter of Rinval was near; Crimora, bright in the armour of man; her hair looſe behind, her bow in her hand. She followed the youth to the [p.25] war, Connal her much beloved. She drew the ſtring on Dargo; but erring pierced her Connal. He falls like an oak on the plain; like a rock from the ſhaggy hill. What ſhall ſhe do, hapleſs maid!—He bleeds; her Connal dies. All the night long ſhe cries, and all the day, O Connal, my love, and my friend! With grief the ſad mourner died.

EARTH here incloſeth the lovelieſt pair on the hill. The graſs grows between the ſtones of their tomb; I ſit in the mournful ſhade. The wind ſighs through the graſs; and their memory ruſhes on my mind. Undiſturbed you now ſleep together; in the tomb of the mountain you reſt alone.