James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


The Poems of Ossian









A Poem.




FINGAL deſpatches Oſſian and Toſcar, the ſon of Conloch and father of Malvina, to raiſe a ſtone, on the banks of the ſtream of Crona, to perpetuate the memory of a victory which he had obtained in that place. When they were employed in that work, Car-ul, a neighbouring chief, invited them to a feaſt. They went: and Toſcar fell deſperately in love with Colna-dona, the daughter of Car-ul. Colna-dona became no leſs enamoured of Toſcar. An incident at a hunting party brings their loves to a happy iſſue.



COL-AMON 1) of troubled ſtreams, dark wanderer of diſtant vales, I behold thy courſe, between trees, near Car-ul's echoing halls! There dwelt bright Colna-dona, the daughter of the king. Her eyes were rolling ſtars; her arms were white as the foam of ſtreams. Her breaſt roſe ſlowly to ſight, like ocean's heaving wave. Her ſoul was a ſtream of light. Who, among the maids, was like the love of heroes?

Beneath the voice of the king, we moved to Crona 2) of the ſtreams, Toſcar of graſſy Lutha, and Oſſian, young in fields. Three bards attended with ſongs. Three boſſy ſhields were borne before us: for we were to rear the ſtone, in memory of the paſt. By Crona's moſſy courſe, Fingal had ſcattered his foes: he had rolled away the ſtrangers, like a troubled ſea. We came to the place of renown: from the mountains deſcended night. I tore an oak from its hill, and raiſed a flame on high. I bade my fathers to look down, from the clouds of their hall; for, at the fame of their race, they brighten in the wind.

I took a ſtone from the ſtream, amidſt the ſong of bards. The blood of Fingal's foes hung curdled in its ooze. Beneath, I placed, at intervals, three boſſes from the ſhields of foes, as roſe or fell the ſound of Ullin's nightly ſong. Toſcar laid a dagger in earth, a mail of ſounding ſteel. We raiſed the mould around the ſtone, and bade it ſpeak to other years.

Oozy daughter of ſtreams, that now art reared on high, ſpeak to the feeble, O ſtone! after Selma's race have failed! Prone, from the ſtormy night, the traveller ſhall lay him by thy ſide: thy whiſtling moſs ſhall ſound in his dreams; the years that were paſt ſhall return. Battles riſe before him, blue-ſhielded kings deſcend to war: the darkened moon looks from heaven, on the troubled field. He ſhall burſt, with morning, from dreams, and ſee the tombs of warriors round. He ſhall aſk about the ſtone, and the aged ſhall reply, “This grey ſtone was raiſed by Oſſian, a chief of other years!”

From Col-amon came a bard, from Car-ul, the friend of ſtrangers. He bade us to the feaſt of kings, to the dwelling of bright Colna-dona. We went to the hall of harps. There Car-ul brightened between his aged locks, when he beheld the ſons of his friends, like two young branches, before him.

“Sons of the mighty,” he ſaid, “ye bring back the days of old, when firſt I deſcended from waves, on Selma's ſtreamy vale! I purſued Duthmocarglos, dweller of ocean's wind. Our fathers had been foes, we met by Clutha's winding waters. He fled along the ſea, and my ſails were ſpread behind him. Night deceived me, on the deep. I came to the dwelling of kings, to Selma of high-boſomed maids. Fingal came forth with his bards, and Conloch, arm of death. I feaſted three days in the hall, and ſaw the blue eyes of Erin, Ros-crána, daughter of heroes, light of Cormac's race. Nor forgot did my ſteps depart: the kings gave their ſhields to Car-ul: they hang, on high, in Col-amon, in memory of the paſt. Sons of the daring kings, ye bring back the days of old!”

Car-ul kindled the oak of feaſts. He took two boſſes from our ſhields. He laid them in earth, beneath a ſtone, to ſpeak to the hero's race. “When battle,” ſaid the king, “ſhall roar, and our ſons are to meet in wrath. My race, ſhall look, perhaps, on this ſtone, when they prepare the ſpear. Have not our fathers met in peace? they will ſay, and lay aſide the ſhield.”

Night came down. In her long locks moved the daughter of Car-ul. Mixed with the harp aroſe the voice of white-armed Colna-dona. Toſcar darkened in his place, before the love of heroes. She came on his troubled ſoul, like a beam to the dark-heaving ocean: when it burſts from a cloud, and brightens the foamy ſide of a wave. 3)

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With morning we awaked the woods; and hung forward on the path of the roes. They fell by their wonted ſtreams. We returned through Crona's vale. From the wood a youth came forward, with a ſhield and pointleſs ſpear. “Whence,” ſaid Toſcar of Lutha, “is the flying beam? Dwells there peace at Col-amon, round bright Colna-dona of harps?”

“By Col-amon of ſtreams,” ſaid the youth, “bright Colna-dona dwelt. She dwelt; but her courſe is now in deſerts, with the ſon of the king; he that ſeized with love her ſoul as it wandered through the hall.” “Stranger of tales,” ſaid Toſcar, “haſt thou marked the warrior's courſe? He muſt fall: give thou that boſſy ſhield!” In wrath he took the ſhield. Fair behind it roſe the breaſts of a maid, white as the boſom of a ſwan, riſing graceful on ſwift-rolling waves. It was Colna-dona of harps, the daughter of the king! Her blue eyes had rolled on Toſcar, and her love aroſe!





Colna-dona ſignifies the love of heroes. Col-amon, narrow river. Car-ul, dark-eyed. Col-amon, the reſidence of Car-ul, was in the neighbourhood of Agricola's wall, towards the ſouth. Car-ul ſeems to have been of the race of thoſe Britons who are diſtinguiſhed by the name of Maiatæ, by the writers of Rome. Maiatæ is derived from two Gaelic words, Mor, a plain, and AITICH, inhabitants; ſo that the ſignification of Maiatæ is the inhabitants of the plain country, a name given to the Britons, who were ſettled in the Lowlands, in contradiſtinction to the Caledonians (i.e. CAEL-DON, the Gauls of the hillſ ), who were poſſeſſed of the more mountainous diviſion of North Britain. 


Crona, murmuring, was the name of a ſmall ſtream which diſcharged itſelf into the river Carron. It is often mentioned by Oſſian, and the ſcenes of many of his poems are on its banks. The enemies whom Fingal defeated here are not mentioned. They were, probably, the provincial Britons. That tract of country between the Friths of Forth and Clyde has been, through all antiquity, famous for battles and rencounters between the different nations who were poſſeſſed of North and South Britain. Stirling, a town ſituated there, derives its name from that very circumſtance. It is a corruption of the Gaelic name, STRILA – i.e. the hill, or rock, of contention. 


Here an epiſode is entirely loſt; or, at leaſt, is handed down ſo imperfectly, that it does not deſerve a place in the poem.