Fragments Of Ancient Poetry, Fragment VIII

A poem by James Macpherson

By the side of a rock on the hill, beneath
the aged trees, old Oscian
sat on the moss; the last of the race of
Fingal. Sightless are his aged eyes;
his beard is waving in the wind. Dull
through the leafless trees he heard the
voice of the north. Sorrow revived in
his soul: he began and lamented the
dead.

How hast thou fallen like an oak,
with all thy branches round thee! Where
is Fingal the King? where is Oscur my
son? where are all my race? Alas! in
the earth they lie. I feel their tombs
with my hands. I hear the river below
murmuring hoarsely over the stones.
What dost thou, O river, to me? Thou
bringest back the memory of the past.

The race of Fingal stood on thy
banks, like a wood in a fertile soil.
Keen were their spears of steel. Hardy
was he who dared to encounter their
rage. Fillan the great was there. Thou
Oscur wert there, my son! Fingal himself
was there, strong in the grey locks
of years. Full rose his sinewy limbs;
and wide his shoulders spread. The
unhappy met with his arm, when the
pride of his wrath arose.

The son of Morny came; Gaul, the
tallest of men. He stood on the hill like
an oak; his voice was like the streams of
the hill. Why reigneth alone, he cries,
the son of the mighty Corval? Fingal is
not strong to save: he is no support for
the people. I am strong as a storm in
the ocean; as a whirlwind on the hill.
Yield, son of Corval; Fingal, yield to
me.

Oscur stood forth to meet him;
my son would meet the foe. But Fingal
came in his strength, and smiled at
the vaunter's boast. They threw their
arms round each other; they struggled
on the plain. The earth is ploughed with
their heels. Their bones crack as the boat
on the ocean, when it leaps from wave to
wave. Long did they toil; with night,
they fell on the sounding plain; as two
oaks, with their branches mingled, fall
crashing from the hill. The tall son
of Morny is bound; the aged overcame.

Fair with her locks of gold, her
smooth neck, and her breasts of snow;
fair, as the spirits of the hill when at
silent noon they glide along the heath;
fair, as the rainbow of heaven; came
Minvane the maid. Fingal! She softly
saith, loose me my brother Gaul.
Loose me the hope of my race, the terror
of all but Fingal. Can I, replies the
King, can I deny the lovely daughter
of the hill? take thy brother, O Minvane,
thou fairer than the snow of the
north!

Such, Fingal! were thy words; but
thy words I hear no more. Sightless
I sit by thy tomb. I hear the wind in
the wood; but no more I hear my
friends. The cry of the hunter is over.
The voice of war is ceased.

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