James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


The Poems of Ossian










Duan Second.




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 1) 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 2),” 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: 3) 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.

Night came down on U-thorno. Still ſtood the chiefs in their grief. The blaſt whiſtled, by turns, through every warrior's hair. Fingal, at length, broke forth from the thoughts of his ſoul. He called Ullin of harps, and bade the ſong to riſe. “No falling fire, that is only ſeen, and then retires in night; no departing meteor was he that is laid ſo low. He was like the ſtrong-beaming ſun, long rejoicing on his hill, Call the names of his fathers from their dwellings old!'“

I-thorno 4), ſaid the bard, that riſeſt midſt ridgy ſeas! Why is thy head ſo gloomy in the ocean's miſt? From thy vales came forth a race, fearleſs as thy ſtrong winged eagles: the race of Colgorm of iron ſhields, dwellers of Loda's hall.

In Tormoth's reſounding iſle aroſe Lurthan, ſtreamy hill. It bent its woody head over a ſilent vale. There, at foamy Cruruth's ſource, dwelt Rurmar, hunter of boars! His daughter was fair as a ſunbeam, white-boſomed Strina-dona!

Many a king of heroes, and hero of iron ſhields; many a youth of heavy locks came to Rurmar's echoing hall. They came to woo the maid, the ſtately huntreſs of Tormoth wild. But thou lookeſt careleſs from thy ſteps, high-boſomed Strina-dona!

If on the heath ſhe moved, her breaſt was whiter than the down of Cana; 5) If on the ſea-beat ſhore, than the foam of the rolling ocean. Her eyes were two ſtars of light. Her face was heaven's bow in ſhowers. Her dark hair flowed round it, like the ſtreaming clouds. Thou wert the dweller of ſouls, white-handed Strina-dona!

Colgorm came in his ſhip, and Corcul-ſuran, king of ſhells. The brothers came from I-thorno to woo the ſunbeam of Tormoth wild. She ſaw them in their echoing ſteel. Her ſoul was fixed on blue-eyed Colgorm. Ul-lochlin's 6) nightly eye looked in, and ſaw the toſſing arms of Strina-dona.

Wrathful the brothers frowned. Their flaming eyes in ſilence met. They turned away. They ſtruck their ſhields. Their hands were trembling on their ſwords. They ruſhed into the ſtrife of heroes for long haired Strina-dona.

Corcul-ſuran fell in blood. On his iſle raged the ſtrength of his father. He turned Colgorm from I-thorno, to wander on all the winds. In Crathmocraulo's rocky field he dwelt by a foreign ſtream. Nor darkened the king alone, that beam of light was near, the daughter of echoing Tormoth, white armed Strina-dona. 7)





In tradition, this Cromma-glaſs makes a great figure in that battle which Comhal loſt, together with his life, to the tribe of Morni. I have juſt now in my hands, an Iriſh compoſition, of very modern date, as appears from the language, in which all the traditions, concerning that deciſive engagement, are jumbled together. It is worthy of being remarked, that Comhal is, in this poem, very often called, Comhal na h'Albin, or Comhal of Albion. 


The family of Duth-maruno, it appears, came originally from Scandinavia, or, at leaſt, from ſome of the northern iſles, ſubject, in chief, to the kings of Lochlin. The Highland ſenachies, who never miſſed to make their comments on, and additions to, the works of Oſſian, have given us a long liſt of the anceſtors of Duth-maruno, and a particular account of their actions, many of which are of the marvellous kind. One of the tale-makers of the north has choſen for his hero, Starnmor, the father of Duth-maruno, and, conſidering the adventures through which he has led him, the piece is neither diſagreeable nor abounding with that kind of fiction which ſhocks credibility. 


An iſland of Scandinavia. 


This epiſode is, in the original, extremely beautiful. It is ſet to that wild kind of muſic which ſome of the Highlanders diſtinguiſh by the title of Fón Oimarra, or the Song of Mermaids. Some part of the air is abſolutely infernal, but there are many returns in the meaſure which are inexpreſſibly wild and beautiful. From the genius of the muſic, I ſhould think it came originally from Scandinavia, for the fictions delivered down concerning the Oi-marra – who are reputed the authors of the muſic – exactly correſpond with the notions of the northern nations concerning their diræ, or goddeſſes of death. – Of all the names in this epiſode, there is none of a Gaelic original, except Strina-dona, which ſignifies the ſtrife of heroes. 


The Cana, or Canna, is a certain kind of graſs, which grows plentifully in the heathy moraſſes of the north. Its ſtalk is of the reedy kind, and it carries a tuft of down, very much reſembling cotton. It is exceſſively white, and, conſequently, often introduced by the bards in their ſimiles concerning the beauty of women. 


Ul-lochlin, the guide to Lochlin; the name of a ſtar. 


The continuation of this epiſode is juſt now in my hands; but the language is ſo different from, and the ideas ſo unworthy of, Oſſian, that I have rejected it as an interpolation by a modern bard.