James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


Fragments of Ancient Poetry

Collected in the Highlands of Scotland










I SIT by the moſſy fountain; on the top of the hill of winds. One tree is ruſtling above me. Dark waves roll over the heath. The lake is troubled below. The deer deſcend from the hill. No hunter at a diſtance is ſeen; no whiſtling cow-herd is nigh. It is mid-day: but all is ſilent. Sad are my thoughts as I ſit alone. Didſt thou but appear, O my love, a wanderer on the heath! thy hair floating on the wind behind thee; thy boſom heaving on the ſight; thine eyes full of tears for thy friends, whom the miſt of the hill had concealed! Thee I would comfort, my love, and bring thee to thy father's houſe.

BUT is it ſhe that there appears, like a beam of light on the heath? bright [p.14] as the moon in autumn, as the ſun in a ſummer-ſtorm?—She ſpeaks: but how weak her voice! like the breeze in the reeds of the pool. Hark!

RETURNEST thou ſafe from the war? “Where are thy friends, my love? I heard of thy death on the hill; I heard and mourned thee, Shilric!”

YES, my fair, I return; but I alone of my race. Thou ſhalt ſee them no more: their graves I raiſed on the plain. But why art thou on the deſert hill? why on the heath, alone?

ALONE I am, O Shilric! alone in the winter-houſe. With grief for thee I expired. Shilric, I am pale in the tomb.

SHE fleets, ſhe ſails away; as grey miſt before the wind!—and, wilt thou [p.15] not ſtay, my love? Stay and behold my tears? fair thou appeareſt, my love! fair thou waſt, when alive!

BY the moſſy fountain I will ſit; on the top of the hill of winds. When mid-day is ſilent around, converſe, O my love, with me! come on the wings of the gale! on the blaſt of the mountain, come! Let me hear thy voice, as thou paſſeſt, when mid-day is ſilent around.