James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


Fragments of Ancient Poetry

Collected in the Highlands of Scotland










EVENING is grey on the hills. The north wind reſounds through the woods. White clouds riſe on the ſky: the trembling ſnow deſcends. The river howls afar, along its winding courſe. Sad, by a hollow rock, the grey-hair'd Carryl ſat. Dry fern waves over his head; his ſeat is in an aged birch. Clear to the roaring winds he lifts his voice of woe.

TOSSED on the wavy ocean is He, the hope of the iſles; Malcolm, the ſupport of the poor; foe to the proud in arms! Why haſt thou left us behind? why live we to mourn thy fate? We might have heard, with thee, the voice of the deep; have ſeen the oozy rock.

SAD on the ſea-beat ſhore thy ſpouſe looketh for thy return. The time of [p.17] thy promiſe is come; the night is gathering around. But no white ſail is on the ſea; no voice is heard except the bluſtering winds. Low is the ſoul of the war! Wet are the locks of youth! By the foot of ſome rock thou lieſt; waſhed by the waves as they come. Why, ye winds, did ye bear him on the deſert rock? Why, ye waves, did ye roll over him?

BUT, Oh! what voice is that? Who rides on that meteor of fire! Green are his airy limbs. It is he! it is the ghoſt of Malcolm!—Reſt, lovely ſoul, reſt on the rock; and let me hear thy voice!—He is gone, like a dream of the night. I ſee him through the trees. Daughter of Reynold! he is gone. Thy ſpouſe ſhall return no more. No more ſhall his hounds come from the hill, forerunners of their maſter. No more from the diſtant rock ſhall his [p.18] voice greet thine ear. Silent is he in the deep, unhappy daughter of Reynold!

I will ſit by the ſtream of the plain. Ye rocks! hang over my head. Hear my voice, ye trees! as ye bend on the ſhaggy hill. My voice ſhall preſerve the praiſe of him, the hope of the iſles.