James Macpherson

1736 - 1796


Fragments of Ancient Poetry

Collected in the Highlands of Scotland












THE wind and the rain are over: calm is the noon of day. The clouds are divided in heaven. Over the green hills flies the inconſtant ſun. Red through the ſtony vale comes down the ſtream of the hill. Sweet are thy murmurs, O ſtream! but more ſweet is the voice I hear. It is the voice of Alpin the ſon of the ſong, mourning for the dead. Bent is his head of age, and red his tearful eye. Alpin, thou ſon of the ſong, why alone on the ſilent hill? why complaineſt thou, as a blaſt in the wood; as a wave on the lonely ſhore? [p.56]



MY tears, O Ryno! are for the dead; my voice, for the inhabitants of the grave. Tall thou art on the hill; fair among the ſons of the plain. But thou ſhalt fall like Morar; and the mourner ſhalt ſit on thy tomb. The hills ſhall know thee no more; thy bow ſhall lie in the hall, unſtrung.

THOU wert ſwift, O Morar! as a doe on the hill; terrible as a meteor of fire. Thy wrath was as the ſtorm of December. Thy ſword in battle, as lightning in the field. Thy voice was like a ſtream after rain; like thunder on diſtant hills. Many fell by thy arm; they were conſumed in the flames of thy wrath.

BUT when thou returnedſt from war, [p.57] how peaceful was thy brow! Thy face was like the ſun after rain; like the moon in the ſilence of night; calm as the breaſt of the lake when the loud wind is laid.

NARROW is thy dwelling now; dark the place of thine abode. With three ſteps I compaſs thy grave, O thou who waſt ſo great before! Four ſtones with their heads of moſs are the only memorial of thee. A tree with ſcarce a leaf, long graſs which whiſtles in the wind, mark to the hunter's eye the grave of the mighty Morar. Morar! thou art low indeed. Thou haſt no mother to mourn thee; no maid with her tears of love. Dead is ſhe that brought thee forth. Fallen is the daughter of Morglan.

WHO on his ſtaff is this? who is this, whoſe head is white with age, whoſe [p.58] eyes are red with tears, who quakes at every ſtep?—It is thy father, O Morar! the father of none but thee. He heard of thy fame in battle; he heard of foes diſperſed. He heard of Morar's fame; why did he not hear of his wound? Weep, thou father of Morar! weep; but thy ſon heareth thee not. Deep is the ſleep of the dead; low their pillow of duſt. No more ſhall he hear thy voice; no more ſhall he awake at thy call. When ſhall it be morn in the grave, to bid the ſlumberer awake?

FAREWELL, thou braveſt of men! thou conqueror in the field! but the field ſhall ſee thee no more; nor the dark wood be lightened with the ſplendor of thy ſteel. Thou haſt left no ſon. But the ſong ſhall preſerve thy name. Future times ſhall hear of thee; they ſhall hear of the fallen Morar.