James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


Fragments of Ancient Poetry

Collected in the Highlands of Scotland












MORNA *), thou faireſt of women, daughter of Cormac-Carbre! why in the circle of ſtones, in the cave of the rock, alone? The ſtream murmureth hoarſely. The blaſt groaneth in the aged tree. The lake is troubled before thee. Dark are the clouds of the ſky. But thou art like ſnow on the heath. Thy hair like a thin cloud of gold on the top of Cromleach. Thy [p.63] breaſts like two ſmooth rocks on the hill which is ſeen from the ſtream of Brannuin. Thy arms, as two white pillars in the hall of Fingal.


WHENCE the ſon of Mugruch, Duchommar the moſt gloomy of men? Dark are thy brows of terror. Red thy rolling eyes. Does Garve appear on the ſea? What of the foe, Duchommar?



FROM the hill I return, O Morna, from the hill of the flying deer. Three have I ſlain with my bow; three with my panting dogs. Daughter of Cormac-Carbre, I love thee as my ſoul. I have ſlain a deer for thee. High was his branchy head; and fleet his feet of wind. [p.64]



GLOOMY ſon of Mugruch, Duchommar! I love thee not: hard is thy heart of rock; dark thy terrible brow. But Cadmor the ſon of Tarman, thou art the love of Morna! thou art like a ſunbeam on the hill, in the day of the gloomy ſtorm. Saweſt thou the ſon of Tarman, lovely on the hill of the chace? Here the daughter of Cormac-Carbre waiteth the coming of Cadmor.


AND long ſhall Morna wait. His blood is on my ſword. I met him by the moſſy ſtone, by the oak of the noiſy ſtream. He fought; but I ſlew him; his blood is on my ſword. High on the hill I will raiſe his tomb, daughter of Cormac-Carbre. But love thou the [p.65] ſon of Mugruch; his arm is ſtrong as a ſtorm.



AND is the ſon of Tarman fallen; the youth with the breaſt of ſnow! the firſt in the chaſe of the hill; the foe of the ſons of the ocean!—Duchommar, thou art gloomy indeed; cruel is thy arm to me.—But give me that ſword, ſon of Mugruch; I love the blood of Cadmor.

[HE gives her the ſword, with which ſhe inſtantly ſtabs him.]



DAUGHTER of Cormac-Carbre, thou haſt pierced Duchommar! the ſword is cold in my breaſt; thou haſt killed the ſon of Mugruch. Give me to Moinie [p.66] the maid; for much ſhe loved Duchommar. My tomb ſhe will raiſe on the hill; the hunter ſhall ſee it, and praiſe me.—But draw the ſword from my ſide, Morna; I feel it cold.—

[UPON her coming near him, he ſtabs her. As ſhe fell, ſhe plucked a ſtone from the ſide of the cave, and placed it betwixt them, that his blood might not be mingled with hers.]





The ſignification of the names in this fragment are; Dubhchomar, a black well-ſhaped man. Muirne or Morna, a woman beloved by all. Cormac-cairbre, an unequalled and rough warriour. Cromleach, a crooked hill. Mugruch, a ſurly gloomy man. Tarman, thunder. Moinie, ſoft in temper and perſon.