James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


Fragments of Ancient Poetry

Collected in the Highlands of Scotland










IT is night; and I am alone, forlorn on the hill of ſtorms. The wind is heard in the mountain. The torrent ſhrieks down the rock. No hut receives me from the rain; forlorn on the hill of winds.

RISE, moon! from behind thy clouds; ſtars of the night, appear! Lead me, ſome light, to the place where my love reſts from the toil of the chaſe! his bow near him, unſtrung; his dogs panting around him. But here I muſt ſit alone, by the rock of the moſſy ſtream. The ſtream and the wind roar; nor can I hear the voice of my love.

WHY delayeth my Shalgar, why the ſon of the hill, his promiſe? Here is [p.47] the rock; and the tree; and here the roaring ſtream. Thou promiſedſt with night to be here. Ah! whither is my Shalgar gone? With thee I would fly my father; with thee, my brother of pride. Our race have long been foes; but we are not foes, O Shalgar!

CEASE a little while, O wind! ſtream, be thou ſilent a while! let my voice be heard over the heath; let my wanderer hear me. Shalgar! it is I who call. Here is the tree, and the rock. Shalgar, my love! I am here. Why delayeſt thou thy coming? Alas! no anſwer.

LO! the moon appeareth. The flood is bright in the vale. The rocks are grey on the face of the hill. But I ſee him not on the brow; his dogs before him tell not that he is coming. Here I muſt ſit alone. [p.48]

BUT who are theſe that lie beyond me on the heath? Are they my love and my brother?—Speak to me, O my friends! they anſwer not. My ſoul is tormented with fears.—Ah! they are dead. Their ſwords are red from the fight. O my brother! my brother! why haſt thou ſlain my Shalgar? why, O Shalgar! haſt thou ſlain my brother? Dear were ye both to me! ſpeak to me; hear my voice, ſons of my love! But alas! they are ſilent; ſilent for ever! Cold are their breaſt of clay!

OH! from the rock of the hill; from the top of the mountain of winds, ſpeak ye ghoſts of the dead! ſpeak, and I will not be afraid.—Whither are ye gone to reſt? In what cave of the hill ſhall I find you?

I ſit in my grief. I wait for morning in my tears. Rear the tomb, ye [p.49] friends of the dead; but cloſe it not till I come. My life flieth away like a dream: why ſhould I ſtay behind? Here ſhall I reſt with my friends by the ſtream of the founding rock. When night comes on the hill: when the wind is up on the heath; my ghoſt ſhall ſtand in the wind, and mourn the death of my friends. The hunter ſhall hear from his booth. He ſhall fear, but love my voice. For ſweet ſhall my voice be for my friends; for pleaſant were they both to me.