Part 2 out of 5
Closed were paths as with a netting,
Vain high courage, speed, or scent;
Every mesh, a man in ambush
Ready with a crossbow bent.
"Eachan, guard that glade and copsewood,
At your peril let none by!"
Cries the chief, while in the heather
Silently the huntsmen lie.
Shouting by the green morasses
Where the fairies dance at night,
Yelling 'mid the oak and birches
Come the beaters into sight.
And before them, rushing wildly
Speeds the driven herd of deer,
Whose wide antlers toss like branches
In the winter of the year.
Useless was the vassal's effort
To arrest the living flow;
And it passed by Eachan's passage
Spite of hound, and shout, and blow.
"Worse than woman! useless caitiff!
Why allowed you them to pass?
Back, no answer! Hark, men, hither!
Take his staff and bind him fast"
Hearing was with them obeying,
And the hunter's strong limbs lie
Bound with thongs from tawny oxen,
'Neath the chieftain's cruel eye.
"More than twoscore stags have passed him,
Mark the number on his flesh
With red stripes of this good ashwood,
Mend me thus this broken mesh!"
Ah, Loch Buy! faint and sullen
Beats the heart, once leal and free,
That had yielded life exulting
If it bled for thine and thee.
Deem'st thou that no honour liveth
Save in haughty breasts like thine?
Think'st thou men, like dogs in spirit,
At such blows but wince and whine?
Often in the dangerous tempest,
When the winds before the blast
Surging charged like crested horsemen
Over helm, and plank, and mast,
He, and all his kin before him,
Well have kept the clansman's faith,
Serving thee in every danger,
Shielding thee from harm and skaith.
'Mid the glens and hills, in combats
Where the blades of swordsmen meet,
Has he fought with thee the Campbells,
Mingling glory with defeat.
But as waters round Eorsa
Darken deep, then blanch in foam,
When the winds Ben More has harboured
Burst in thunder from their home,
So the brow fear never clouded
Blackens now 'neath anger's pall,
And the lips, to speak disdaining,
Whiten at revenge's call!
Late, when many years had passed him,
And the Chiefs old age begun,
Seemed his youth again to blossom
With the birth of his fair son.
Late, when all his days had hardened
Into flint his nature wild,
Seemed it softer grown and kinder
For the sake of that one child.
And again a hunting morning
Saw Loch Buy and his men,
With his boy, his guests, and kinsmen,
Hidden o'er a coppiced glen.
Deep within its oaken thickets
Ran its waters to the sea:
On the hill the Chief lay careless,
While the child watched eagerly.
'Neath them, on the shining Ocean,
Island beyond island lay,
Where the peaks of Jura's bosom
Rose o'er holy Oronsay.
Where the greener fields of Islay
Pointed to the far Kintyre,
Fruitful lands of after-ages,
Wasted then with sword and fire.
For the spell that once had gathered
All the chiefs beneath the sway
Of the ancient Royal sceptre
Of the Isles had passed away.
Once from Rathlin to the southward,
Westward, to the low Tiree,
Northward, past the Alps of Coolin,
Somerled ruled land and sea.
Colonsay, Lismore, and Scarba,
Bute and Cumrae, Mull and Skye,
Arran, Jura, Lew's and Islay
Shouted then one battle-cry.
But those Isles that, still united,
Fought at Harlaw, Scotland's might,
Broken by their fierce contentions
Singly waged disastrous fight.
And the teaching of forgiveness,
Grey Iona's creed, became
Not a sign for men to reverence,
But a burning brand of shame.
Still among the names that Ruin
Had not numbered in her train,
Lived the great Clan, proud as ever
Of the race of strong Maclaine.
And his boy, like her he wedded,
Though of nature like the dove,
Showed the eagle-spirit flashing
Through her heritage of love.
Heir of all the vassals' homage
Rendered to the grisly sire,
He had grown his people's treasure,
Fostered as their heart's desire.
Surely Safety guards his footsteps;
Enmity he hath not sown:
Yet who stealthily glides near him,
Whose the arm around him thrown?
It is Eachan, who has wolf-like
Seized upon a helpless prey!
Fearlessly and fast he bears him
Where a cliff o'erhangs the bay.
There, while sea-birds scream around them,
Holding by his throat the boy,
Eachan turns, and to the father
Shouts in scorn and mocking joy:
"Take the punishment thou gavest,
Give before all there a pledge
For my freedom, or thy darling
Dying, falls from yonder ledge.
"Take the strokes in even number
As thou gavest, blow for blow,
Then dishonoured, on thine honour
Swear to let me freely go."
Silent in his powerless anger
Stood the Chief, with all his folk;
And before them all the ransom
Was exacted stroke for stroke.
Then again the voice of vengeance
Pealed from Eachan's lips in hate:
"Childless and dishonoured villain,
Expiation comes too late.
"My revenge is not completed!"
And they saw in dumb despair
How he hurled his victim downward
Headlong through the empty air.
Then they heard a yell of laughter
As they turned away the eye;
And they gazed again where nothing
Met their sight but cliff and sky;
For the murderer dared to follow
Where the youthful spirit fled,
To the Throne of the Avenger,
To the Judge of Quick and Dead.
_THE HARD STRAIT OF THE FEINNE_
Now of the hard strait of the Feinne this legend's verse shall tell:
When Fionn's men had fought and won, and all with them was well,
And victory on Erin's shores had given spoil which they
Alone could win whose swords of old were mightiest in the fray:
For in those days the bravest hand, and not the craftiest brain,
Got gold, and skill in gallant fight was found the surest gain.
Great Fionn's wont it was to give, when foes had bled and broke,
A feast to nobles and to chiefs and all the humble folk:
Upon the plain they sat, and ate the meat which smoking came
From layers of stone, well laid on pits half filled with charcoal flame,
Where 'neath the covering roof of turf that kept the heat aglow.
The boar was quickly roasted whole, with many a stag and roe.
And while the feast, with laugh and jest, gave careless time to most,
Two watchers bold kept guard the while, and gazed o'er sea and coast--
Two watchers good, and keenly eyed, sent out by Fionn to mark
If danger rode upon the sea, with Norway's pirate bark.
Full well they watched, although behind they heard the shouted song,
And knew the wine was bathing red the fair beards of the strong,
While chanted verse, and music's notes, arose upon the air,
And the briny breeze itself half seemed a savoury steam to bear;
Nor left their post, when from the clouds the hailstones leaped to ground,
And plaids were wrapt o'er shoulders broad, and o'er deep chests were
But Fionn's plaid untouched lay yet upon the earth outspread,
And white it grew as lichened rock, or Prophet's hoary head.
"Oh would it were all ruddy gold, there lying thickly strewn;
What joy were ours to share alike, and bear away each stone."
And laughingly each filled his hands, forgetful of the twain,
Their comrades good, on guard who stood to watch the moor and main.
But when their lonely vigil o'er, they, Roin and Ailde, came,
And found how little friendship counts, when played the spoiler's game,
Sore angered that no hand for them had set apart a prize,
They murmured. "With such men of greed all faith and kindness dies!
When thus they deal with us in peace, how shall we fare when blood
Runs from the wounds to blind the eyes to aught but selfish good?"
They swore that they forgotten thus were better far away,
And sailed to Lochlin's distant shore, and served in her array.
Their fame was great in Norway's realm, and love for Ailde came
To melt the heart of Norway's queen, a sudden quenchless flame.
She fled with Ailde from the King, and soon on Scotland's coast
She trod, a messenger of ill, a danger to the host
Great Eragon, far Lochlin's King, was not the man to know
The blood mount hot at insult's stroke without an answering blow,
His dragon keels were rolled to waves that shouted welcome loud
To glittering helm and painted shield beneath each spar and shroud
Oh! strong was Eragon in war, in battle victor oft,
From many a rank, from many a mast his banner streamed aloft;
With forty ships he set to sea, and scores of glancing oars
Streaked white his wake on fiord and loch along the echoing shores.
The Shetland Islands saw them pass, where on the tides, their sails
Shone like a flight of mighty swans, fast borne on wintry gales:
Hoarse as the raven's note their oath rang over all the seas,
False Fionn's host should bend and break before the Northern breeze.
And southward, onward still they steered, and up Loch Leven bore,
As you may know, for one great ship was lost upon the shore:
The sunken rock on which she drove and inlet where she lay
Were called the Galley's Crag and Port, and bear the name to-day.
They left her, taking all her crew, and landing near Glencoe,
On level ground their tents were set, thick planted row on row.
To Fionn of the Feinne that day, King Eragon sent word,
To yield him homage or abide the hard doom of the sword;
But grievous then was Fionn's strait, for thrice a thousand men,
His best and bravest, far away were hunting hill and glen.
The wives, the old and feeble folk alone were left, and these
He gathered, asking how to blind the strangers of the seas?
Then gave they counsel: "We are weak. By thee must peace be sought,
E'en though with massy store of gold the boon to-day be bought;
And if all this do not avail," they said, "O Fionn, thou
Shouldst yield thy daughter as the price, our ransom on her brow!"
Their messenger then offered these before the set of sun;
When flamed the wrath from Norway's King: "I ask not what I've won,
Your master stands before you now, my vengeance is my own;
For Ailde's deed the Feinne as slaves in Norway shall atone."
Back went the messenger in haste, and sadly Fionn knew
The threat was uttered by the strong, against the old and few.
But homeward from the forest soon he saw each hero's hound
Come swiftly back, in front of all he saw his Oscar bound;
And when the foremost hunters came, he told their noble band
How fight was sought with them this day upon the Northern strand.
Then looked they for some ground whose strength would quickly hide and save
Their little force, till gathering might gave fortune to the brave.
They dug four trenches deep, where firs above the birches flung
Red gnarled limbs that glowed at eve the dark green plumes among;
There hidden silently they watched, while rugged, scarred, and high,
Just at their rear a peak appeared to move against the sty.
Steep were its rocky ledges, strewn with jagged stones that lay
So loose one hand might send a mass on its resistless way,
While from the neighbouring hills the mount was sundered by a glen,
Where lightly crossed the grey cloud mists, but never mortal men.
Such was the chosen fort The Feinne into the trenches went;
For succour through all Alban's realm their messengers were sent;
To the green slopes of deep Glencoe the warriors summoned came,
Alas, too few to brave in fight the men of Norway's name.
They held long counsel, and the chief sent forth that hostage fair
His daughter, with a chosen band, his words of peace to bear;
And Fergus, his young son, to speak on his behalf, that they
Might change to love the king's black thought, and all his wrath allay--
For Fergus' speech, like ivy wreath, o'er heart of rock could wind
Till tender thoughts, like nestling birds, would come and shelter find.
Wealth to awake the Northmen's greed should weight his tempting word
For quaichs of gold and precious belts, and magic stones which stirred
The torpid blood of all disease to vigorous life once more,
And fivescore mares of iron grey, and hunting hawks threescore,
Were gifts to promise, with good herds, and cows with calves at side.
They placed the maid upon a horse, and bade her boldly ride;
With Fergus marching at her rein, his comrades close at hand,
They came to where the fleet and camp thick covered sea and land.
And halting there, young Fergus spake across a space of ground
Unto the king, who foremost stood with mailed men around;
He offered all the tribute rich, and that fair lady proud.
But when he ceased a silence fell, and then the answer loud
In Eragon's deep voice rang forth: "Let Fionn bring me all,
All that he hath on earth, and here let him before me fall,
Him and his wife before me here upon the shore, that I
May see them on their knees to me swear troth and fealty,
While as they homage make I shall above them rear my blade
To spare, or slay them at my feet, if so their debt be paid."
Then called in scorn the lady's voice, "No, Eragon, your might
Hath not across the broad salt seas brought such a host to fight
As e'er shall cause my father's knees to bend to you in prayer,
Nor shall you ever call me bride, or spoil of Erin wear."
She quickly turned her horse and went, but Fergus stood and waved
The signal banner for the chief, and for awhile he braved
The onset of the foe, and fought until the evening fell.
Then gave the council their advice to Fionn. "It were well
That Ailde should himself defy the king, and man to man
With sevenscore 'gainst sevenscore contend before the van."
And thus they fought, and Ailde fell, and Eragon defied
An equal band to equal fight, for great had grown his pride.
Then paused and pondered Fionn long, and doubted whom to ask
To lead in such a venture great, and dare so grave a task.
But Goll, the son of Morna, named at Fionn's call, went forth
And matched with equal force, back drove the boasters of the North.
And yet again a band as strong was overcome and made
To own our heroes' swords were best, when man to man arrayed;
But Eragon in fury cried his men should conquer yet.
For eight days more aye sevenscore 'gainst sevenscore were set,
And when the blood had flowed in streams, to utter madness urged
Against the trenches of the Feinne their baffled army surged.
Then sparkled swords like gleams of light upon the ocean's spray
When tossed aloft to wind and sun where battling currents play.
In that fierce fray did Eragon the son of Morna greet,
And, striking fast their mighty blades ascend and flashing meet;
Then sank the stranger king in death, and Goll sore wounded fell,
Against the Northmen went the day; and of their slain they tell
That from Glen Fewich to the shore they lay, and of the host
So few escaped that galleys twain alone left Scotland's coast.
Nay, even they ne'er reached a port, so that in Norway none
Could tell how Eragon revenged the deed by Ailde done.
But sorrow came upon the Feinne for all their strongest, dead;
And Fionn found that from that time his fortune waned and fled,
For ne'er again in equal strength the Feinne in arms were seen
Since the dark days of Ailde's love, and Norway's evil queen.
_Note._--This story was taken down by J. Dewar in prose from oral
recitation in Gaelic in 1860. Translated by H. McLean, of Islay. It
is rendered here nearly literally.
In the vapour and haze on the ocean,
Where the skies and the waters meet,
There's a form that drifts, phantom-like, onward
As it follows the grey clouds' feet.
O'er the sea come the winds and the billows,
And they howl to the rocks, and they cry,
They will bring them a wreck on the morrow,
Ere the joy of the tempest die.
The shade looming dark in the distance
Is naught but a galleon proud;
And the spray has long battered her turrets,
And loosened each yard and each shroud;
But not on the surf-beaten islands,
Nor yet upon Morven's land,
Does she drive, for her rudder, unshattered,
Is firm in the steersman's hand.
No mist wreath, no cloud, was the shadow
That moved on the height of the seas;
Like a castle how steep are her bulwarks,
Her spars like a forest of trees!
She is safe from the gales for a season,
In the shelter and calm of the sound;
A harbour named after the Virgin,
The "Well of Our Lady" she found.
She may rest in that haven, hill-girdled,
Near the shade of the woods on the shore,
Where the hush of the forest is deepened
By the waterfall's song evermore.
How grandly her masts rise to heaven,
How glitters the blest Mary's form,
High placed o'er the stern, and upholding
The Prince of our Peace through the storm!
Now waters their orisons murmur
As they fold her bright robes to their breast,
Where they mirror the galleried windows,
And the flag and the face of the Blest.
Again with that sign and the banner
Of the gold and the crimson of Spain,
Shall this ship front the foes of the Virgin,
And the English be chased from the Main.
Yes, again on the heretic Saxon
Her cannon shall thunder in scorn,
Till in triumph through insolent England
Shall the Faith and King Philip be borne.
But the rows of dark mouths that have spoken
Defiance with sulphurous breath,
Glisten black, stretching forth in the silence,
And in vain ask the presence of death.
Yes, repose and surcease of all hazard,
A truce to all war for a time!
The cliffs and the pines only echo
The laugh of a sunnier clime.
And gaily the dark-visaged seamen
Quaff, cursing the mists and the rain;
Gravely drinking from goblets of silver
Sits their chief, Don Fereija of Spain. 
 This galleon was said to have been "The Florida," commanded
by Don Fereija. A search at Madrid among the archives shows that the
only vessel named the "_Florida_" in the Armada, was a small ship
which came safely back to Santander Roads after the destruction of
the fleet. No commander had the name assigned to the captain of the
vessel sunk at Tobermory. The identity of this galleon remains, therefore,
But the souls of the men to whose nostrils
Had risen the smoke of the fight,
Soon tired of the shore and of slumber,
Soon yearned for the red battle light.
And courtesy fled from the weary,
From idleness arrogance grew;
And all they received as a favour
They haughtily claimed as their due.
Then answered the Islesmen in anger,
"The food you demand as your own,
By our people's free favour long given
Shall be bought by your gold now alone."
"Now, down with the savage's envoy,
Set sail and away on our track!
Carthagena's sweet girls shall deride him,
And jeer the red locks on his back."
Below, in the dark narrow spaces,
The Islesman gropes, down in the hold;
Unnoticed, and one among many;
What harm can his hatred unfold?
Swarm the men to the rigging, and swiftly
Shine clouds of white canvas, and clank
The links of the anchor's great cable,
Creaks, trampled on deck, every plank:
Swings round the huge bowsprit, and slowly
With motion majestic and free,
The galleon, vast, gilded, and mighty,
Passes on, passes forth, to the sea.
Her colours still paint all the ripples,
Repeated her banners all seem,
Her sails, and her gold, and her cannon
Float on like a gorgeous dream.
Came a flash, and a roar, and a smoke-cloud
Rushed up, and spread far o'er the sky;
Sank a wreck, black, and rugged, and blasted,
While the sound on the winds swept by.
And the mountains sent back the dull thunder
As though to all time they would tell
The vengeance that pealed to the Heavens
From the Harbour of "Mary's Well."
_LOCH UISK, ISLE OF MULL._
Yon vale among the mountains,
So sheltered from the sea,
That lake which lies so lonely,
Shall tell their tale to thee.
Here stood a stately convent
Where now the waters sleep,
Here floated sweeter music
Than comes from yonder deep.
Above the holy building
The summer cloud would rest,
And listen where to heaven
Rose hymns to God addressed;
For the hills took up the chanting,
And from their emerald wall
The sounds they loved, would, lingering,
In fainter accents fall.
Hard by, beside a streamlet
Fast flowing from a well,
A nun, in long past ages,
Had built her sainted cell:
To her in dreams 'twas given
As sacred task and charge,
To keep unchanged for ever
The bright Spring's mossy marge.
"Peace shall with joys attendant
For ever here abide,
While reverently and faithfully
You guard its taintless tide."
And when she knew her spirit
Was summoned to its rest,
To all around her gathered
She gave that high behest;
And many followed after
To seek the life she chose,
Till, like a flower, in glory
The cloistered convent rose.
Through Scotland's times of bloodshed,
Of foray, feud, and raid,
Their home became the haven
Where storm and strife were stayed.
Men blessed each dark-robed Sister,
And thought an angel trod,
Where walked in love and meekness
A lowly maid of God!
Right happy were they, lighting
With love those days of doom;
For heart need ne'er be darkened
By any garment's gloom.
Yes, often life thereafter
Was here with gladness crowned,
For, sad as seemed their vesture
The peace of God was found
His holiness in beauty
Made every trial seem
A rock that lies all harmless
Deep hidden in a stream.
While life was pure there never
Was wish in thought to gain
The world, where far behind them
The black nuns left their pain;
And time but flew too quickly
O'er that friend-circle small,
Where each one loved her neighbour,
And God was loved of all.
Still from its beauteous chalice,
That well's unceasing store
Poured forth, through whispering channels,
The crystal load it bore.
Hope seemed to bring the fountain
To seek the light of day;
Faith made it bright; Obedience
Smoothed, hallowing, its way.
Full many a gorgeous Summer
Woke heather into bloom,
And oft cold stars in Winter
Looked on a Sister's tomb;
Before the joy had withered
That virtue once had nursed;
Before their Lord and Master
Grew love for things accursed.
Lo! then the stream neglected
Forsook its wonted way:
In stagnant pools, dark-tainted,
Its wandering waters lay.
There choked by moorland ridges,
Black with the growth of peat,
Beneath the quaking surface
The fetid floods would meet;
Till rising, spreading ever
Above the chalice green
Of that fair Well, they covered
The place where it had been.
Then, near the careless convent,
Within the hill's deep shade,
The Fate which works in silence
A lake had slowly made.
As evil knows not halting
When passions strongly flow,
So daily deeper, deeper
Would those dark waters grow;
Till on an awful midnight,
When red the windows flamed
And song and jest and revel
The Vesper hour had shamed,
And wanton sin dishonoured
The time Christ's birth had crowned,
They burst their banks in darkness,
And with their raging sound
The rocks of all the valley
Rung for a few hours' space;
Then the wide Loch at morning
Reflected heaven's face.
Few voices now are heard there,
Around the wild deer feed;
And winds sigh loud in Autumn
Through copse, and rush, and reed.
Men say that when in darkness
They pass the water's verge,
Each hears, mid sounds of revel
The "Miserere's" dirge;
That faintly, strangely, ever
Upon the Loch's dark breast,
Beneath, above, around it
Shine lights that never rest.
Of all such ghastly phantoms,
Bred of the night and fear,
By hope of our salvation
None meets the noontide clear!
The blue sky's tender beauties
Upon the strong floods shine,
As God's eternal mercy
Dwells with His might divine!
Pure as their mystic fountain
They sleep and flow unstained,
Although the hue of sorrow
Hath in their depths remained.
The swallow, swiftly passing
Flies low to kiss the wave
When rippling gently over
Some pure saint's holy grave:
The hunter's eyes discover
Beneath those waters still
The walls of that proud convent,
Where God hath worked His will.
_THE LADY'S ROCK_
A brother's eye had seen the grief
That Duart's lady bore;
His boat with sail half-raised flies down
The sound by green Lismore.
Why speeds your boat so fast?
No scene of joy shall light your track
Adown the spray-strewn blast.
The very trees upon the isle
Rock to and fro, and wail;
The very birds cry sad and shrill,
Storm driven, where you sail;
O when for yon dim mainland shore
You launched your keel to start
You knew not of the load 'twill bear,
The heavier load your heart.
See what is that, which yonder gleams,
Where skarts alone make home;
Is that but one oft-breaking sea,
Some frequent fount of foam?
The morn is dark and indistinct,
Is all through drift and cloud;
Around the rock white waters toss,
As flaps in wind a shroud.
It cannot be a leaping jet,
Nor form of rock or wave
There stands some being saved by God
In mercy from the grave!
"Down with the sail, out oars! the boat
Can reach the leeward side:
Mother of Heaven! look you, men,
Where breaks that roaring tide."
"A living woman, do I dream
Or stands my sister there,
Where only at the middle ebb
The shelving ledge is bare?"
O white as surf that sweeps her knee,
She falls, but not to die;
Ahaladah is at her side,
He bears her up on high.
Away from Duart now he steers;
Why curses he its lord;
Why flee to Inveraray's strength,
As though he feared his sword?
Proud triumph's notes were often heard
Where Aray's waters sing,
And mourners there have often wept
The slain for faith and king.
But never would that lady's lips
There speak her grievous woe,
Though in her chamber in the night
Her frequent tears would flow.
She dreamt of wrong where love was sought,
Of crafty cruel eyes,
Of one steep stair, of grasping hands
That stifled piteous cries;
Of wind which tore the hissing waves,
And howled o'er mountains bare;
Where swollen burns in feathery clouds
Were dashed into the air.
Of one wet rock, of horror wild,
When she was left alone,
Till madness seemed to whelm her thought
And, with a shuddering moan,
Again she heard the surges rush,
And, where she shrinking turned,
The seaweed there, like woman's hair,
The murderous billows spurned.
Again the night and wind were joined
To mock her hope of aid,
Till shrieking, she awoke, where once
She slept a happy maid.
But none would she accuse, and dumb
Rebuked the vengeance call,
Till one dark eve at supper-time
Within the old dim hall,
She heard some whisper, and she saw
Her brother leave his place,
Go forth, and entering, beckon out
A band, with stern set face.
Again he came, and o'er her bent,
And whispered "Sister dear,
Let fall your veil about your head,
Nor tremble when you hear
That Duart comes in mourner's guise!
Lo, there he takes his seat.
Chief, tell us why your mien is sad,
When friends and kinsmen meet?"
"My woes are great, my wife lies dead,
But yester week these hands
Closed her sweet eyes, and now I bring
Her body to your lands."
Then was the arras drawn aside
And girt with wake lights drear,
Beneath the archway's carven vault,
Was borne a white-crossed bier.
And Duart rose; his shifting eye
Moved like a marsh-fire pale,
But circling back, still restless scanned
The lady of the veil.
Then through the silence broke a voice,
"Know you that lady, chief?
She too, a guest with us, like you,
Well knows the pangs of grief.
"You come from far, bring wine." To each
The ruddy goblet passed.
The lady raised her hand, and back
The heavy veil she cast.
Strong Duart reeled as from a stroke;
He stared as at the dead:
How could her glance o'er that dark face
Such deathly palor spread?
"Your play is out, ah cursed fiend!"
Ahaladah cried loud;
"Your death shall be no phantom false,
No empty mask your shroud:
If hospitality's high law
Here shields your life awhile,
By all the saints you yet shall feel
The vengeance of Argyll."
* * * * *
In Edinburgh Duart's Lord
Strides down the shadowed town;
The white moon glints on roofs o'erhead,
And on St Giles's crown.
Another step is on the street,
The watchmen hear no cry;
But drenched in blood lies Duart, where
Ahaladah passed by.
_THE POOL OF THE IRON SHIRT._
Colin, Chief of Diarmid's kin,
Strode alone to Ederlinn.
Night, and heath, and deep morass
Hear the chain-mailed warrior pass.
Ambushed lay the treacherous foe,
Ear to earth, and dart on bow.
Vain their arrows' ringing hail
Fell on pointed helm and mail.
As he backward leaped, there flew
Moonlight down the sword he drew.
In his front the lonely man
Saw approach the hostile van:
Near him on the moor a tarn;
On a knoll a wattled barn.
Refuge bad, yet near its door
Sank the hot pursuit's uproar.
For, unsheathed his battle brand,
There they saw great Colin stand.
Dauntless cried he: "Here within
Rest I, then to Ederlinn!"
Yelled the circling hounds in ire,
Set the woven wall on fire.
Sword in hand he stood, the light
Gleaming on his limbs of might,
Like a cloud-built column high,
Red, in sunset's flaming sky.
All too hot for mortal frame
Glowed his armour, wrapped in flame.
Hidden by the wreaths of smoke,
Hewing through the wall, he broke,
Felling seven, onward sped
Plunging through the lake's reed-bed.
Hiss the waters where he springs,
Hatred's yell again forth rings.
But he throws his mail away,
Dives, and darkness hides his way.
Smiling hears their lessening din;
Onward strides to Ederlinn.
Ages since have passed, yet still
Tales recount his dauntless will.
"Pool of the Iron shirt," thy name
Keeps, in Erse, the hero's fame.
Look you, race of ancient Gael,
Never let such memories fail!
Set them far o'er gems and gold,
For your sons to have and hold.
Steadfast Will its goal shall win.
Fairer e'en than Ederlinn!
Does death cleanse the stains of the spirit
When sundered at last from the clay,
Or keep we thereafter till judgment,
Desires that on earth had their way?
Bereft of the strength which was given
To use for our good or our bane,
Shall yearnings vain, impotent, endless,
Be ours with their burden of pain?
Though flesh does not clothe them, what anguish
Must be known in the world of the dead,
If the future lies open before them,
And fate has no secret unread.
And yet, oh how rarely our vision
May know the lost presence is nigh;
How seldom its purpose be gathered,
Be it comfort, or warning to die!
With mute or half breathed supplication
Permitted to utter their prayer,
Demanding earth's justice, but ever
Poor phantoms of mist and of air;
If in aught our belief may be certain
Where founded on witness of man,
They come; and no tomb e'er imprisoned
The shade when corruption began.
They come: and oh swiftly they follow
The track of the murderer vile;
He is haunted for ever; his refuge
A hell on far ocean or isle!
Though he fly as once fled from Barcaldine
Young Donald's assassin, to claim
Guest-right, where all mercy a treason
To kinship and justice became.
"Inverawe, Inverawe, give me shelter,
I have shed a man's blood in a fray;
Oh swear that you will not betray me,
By your dirk, by the dear light of day!"
And the prayer in his kindness he answered,
But aghast heard the voices that cried;
"Your cousin lies slain! Can a stranger
Have passed by the steep river side?"
Then bound by his oath he deceived them;
But night brought a dream full of fear,
His cousin's pale image stood o'er him,
Came a voice he had loved to his ear:
"Inverawe, Inverawe, give no shelter
To the man by whom blood has been shed:"
And he went to his guest, saying, "Leave me,
I obey the dear voice of the dead."
"By your oath, by the light of God's heaven
Your word has been passed for your guest"
"Then sleep in the cave in the mountain,
If Donald allow you to rest!"
Again shone the vision more awful,
Ere the hours of the darkness had fled;
"Inverawe, Inverawe, give no shelter
To the man by whom blood has been shed."
But empty the cave was at morning,
When searched for the murderer's trace,
And the ghost came again in the darkness,
The gore on its breast and its face.
"Inverawe, Inverawe," again whispered
The shade of the echoless feet,
"My blood has been shed, I await thee,
At Ticonderoga we meet."
And often in wonder repeated
That warning to many was known,
The strangely named place for the trysting
Men said was in dreamland alone;
"Why cherish a dismal illusion?
War summons gay hearts to the strife:
All share in the prizes of glory,
The chances of death or of life."
In camp, on the march, in the battle,
His thought would repeat evermore,
"At the place fore-ordained in the vision
I shall pass to the Dark River's shore."
And often awaiting the summons,
He asked for the wild Indian name,
When curled o'er American hamlets
The smoke from the guns' sudden flame.
The forest one evening was silent
As though in the calm of a trance
Yet within it two armies were resting,
The soldiers of Britain and France.
Our Highlanders slumbered, march-wearied,
Their sentries at watch in the wood:
Behind their long lines of entrenchment
The French in their bivouacs stood.
"Inverawe, take your sleep ere the morning,
When our praise or our death shall be sung,"
A comrade cried; "soon for Carillon
A chime that is new shall be rung!"
But the air of that night of midsummer
Seemed chilly, and sleep fled away;
And he wandered to where, near Carillon,
The charge would be sounded at day.
To the North a pale ray of Aurora
Shot white o'er the black forest spars,
A lake through the pines softly gleaming
Lay calm in the radiance of stars.
It seemed a sweet heaven, whose brightness
Life's dark prison-bars could not hide:
As he gazed, lo, he thought that a figure
Advanced from that silvery tide.
Distinct as a luminous shadow,
It moved in the starlight alone,
Till it came to him close, and he shuddered,
For the face that he saw was his own!
The cloak of the dread apparition
His own, but bedabbled in blood!
Inverawe stretched his hand, but the spectre
Had vanished like mist in the wood.
To the fires of his comrades returning,
"Ah! friends, you deceived me," he said;
"Why conceal from my ears that Carillon
Has the name that was named by the dead?
'Tis Ticonderoga, the fortress
We march on the morrow to storm,
Where Death and the Phantom stand watching
The hour when our column shall form."
The morn brought the hell of the onset,
When bayonet and Highlanders' blade
Sank crushed where the trenches were flashing
In the roll of the long fusillade.
Repulsed! O how sadly at night-fall
The remnant was gathered and told!
In silence they thought of the wounded,
And mourned the brave hearts that were cold.
Ere thundered again the dim battle
Saluting the deathless in God,
A truce found that Leader all gory,
Yet gasping his breath on the sod.
They bore him to camp, where around him
They pressed as he beckoned in pain:
His voice seemed a breath in the forest,
"I die--I have seen him again."
_AN ISLESMAN'S FAREWELL._
Ah! must we part, my darling?
O let the days be few,
Until your dear returning
To one who loves but you!
Where'er your ship be sailing,
Think on your own love true;
The back of the wave to you, darling,
The back of the wave to you!
The witch, who oft at midnight
Above Ben Caillach flew,
Told me she dreamed no danger
Athwart your vessel drew;
For you she said the breezes
Aye strong and fairly blew;
The back of the wave to you, darling,
The back of the wave to you!
Ah! waiting here, and trembling
When dark the water's hue,
I'll long for the dear pleasure
That in your glance I knew;
And pray to Him who never
Can lose you from His view.
The back of the wave to you, darling,
The back of the wave to you.
_PREFACE TO DIARMID'S STORY_
Best beloved of ancient stories
Are our Diarmid's woes to me.
Like a mist, by breezes broken,
So this tale of olden glories
Floats in fragments, as a token
Of the song of Ireland's sea.
Through long centuries repeated
Lived the legend told in Erse,
But a change comes swift or slowly
Fades the language, and defeated
Flies the faith, once counted holy,
Old-world ways, and oral verse.
Not from men of note or learning
May we gather now these tales,
Heard beneath the cotter's rafter,
Or where smithy sparks are burning,
Or at sea, when hushed the laughter
Of the breeze on hull and sails.
Then with Ossian's rhythmic Measure
Comes upon the fancy's sight,
One with golden locks; resplendent,
Great and strong with eyes of azure,
And, again in the ascendant,
Magic reasserts her might.
Nought can wound him, sword or arrow,
Only powerless are the spells
Where on the footsole implanted
There is hid a birth-mark narrow,
But this hero's brow enchanted
Every woman's love compels.
Woe to him, that she whose glances
Won the king on Denmark's shore,
Evil, beautiful, imperious,
Born where wheel the grisly dances
Through the glen of ghosts mysterious,
Love's first passion for him bore.
For she saw his forehead bending
O'er the snarling dogs at strife
At the wedding-feast of greeting;
And at dusk unto him wending,
"Come," she said, "let this our meeting
Pledge my soul to thee for life."
"If, O queen, we go together,
Not with friends, nor yet alone
Must thou be, nor sheltered ever,
Housed, nor braving wind and weather;
If on horse or foot, then never
Can thy love to me be known!"
Flight were shield and fence far surer
Gainst a wily woman's ways
Than the wit of man; for seated
Ere the dawn, his fair allurer
At his open door repeated
All his words, with longing gaze.
"Go with me, O Diarmid; see me
Not on horse, or foot; with friends,
Nor alone; not night or morning
Reigns: O come; thou wilt not flee me?
Never lived a warrior scorning
Every joy that loving lends!"
Then at last by her caresses
Into flight and guilt beguiled,
Diarmid loathed his life, abiding
In the caves' or woods' recesses,
Like a thief or coward hiding,
To his fate unreconciled.
Thus the mightiest magician
Warped the true and loyal heart,
And he fled with her, forsaking.
Friends and kinsfolk, while contrition
Gnawed into his life's days, making
Sad his journey, hard his part.
He, a fugitive, whose valiance
Made the Feinne fair Erin's boast!
Where the red cascade descended,
Lovely Grinie's evil dalliance
Held him thrall as though were ended
Noble warring with the host.
He a slave! whose oaths had ever
Bade him "champion the oppressed,"
Pledged him to "confound the clever,
Aid the losing man's endeavour,
Be the first in fight, and never
Heedless of the king's behest"
Once upon a rock, tree-shrouded,
Hungry they had climbed to eat
Where the scarlet berries clustered:
Suddenly below them crowded
Dogs and huntsmen, 'til were mustered
All the Feinne beneath their feet.
Fionn, then, their grim commander,
Dreaming not his wife was near,
Had a giant chess-board graven
On the sod, and played; and under
The green leaves which gave him haven
Diarmid watched the game in fear.
Oscar lost, with Fionn playing,
Until Diarmid, from on high
Dropped the scarlet seeds to guide him,
Thus his presence there betraying:
And the friends of Fionn eyed him,
Shouting, "Thou shalt surely die!"
But all Diarmid's comrades for him
Fought, each venturing his life:
And amid the dread commotion
Fled the twain, until before him
To the peaceful sands of ocean
Ran a woodland stream of strife.
Dwelling on its banks he made him
There the wooden bowls that none
Fashioned with the dirk so deftly.
But the chattering stream betrayed him:
From the secret forest swiftly
Flashed white shavings in the sun.
Then the king cried, "Grinie's lover
Near us hath his lurking place!
Sound the hunting horns around him!
See if from the thickets' cover
By the ancient vows that bound him
He shall come to join the chase!"
* * * * *
How the queen bore his upbraiding;
How his death in hunting came,
Tell the verses here translated:
Lights are they, in transit fading,
Scattered sparks, oblivion fated,
Memories from a mighty flame!
_GRINIE'S FLIGHT WITH DIARMID._
(FROM THE GAELIC)
The Hern at early morning cries,
Where at Sleve-gail the meadow lies.
Say, Duin's son, whom I love well,
Canst thou thereof the reason tell?
O! Gormla's daughter, thou whose sire
Was named from tireless steeds of fire;
Thou evil-working one! thy feet
Tread treacherous ways of ice and sleet.
Grinie! of lovelier hue than Spring
To flower, or bloom on bough can bring,
More fleeting far your love that flies
Like the cold clouds of dawning skies.
Because of thine ill-chosen part
My fortune's firm set rivets start.
Yes, thine the deed, brought low to pain,
My grievous woe thine only gain.
From palaces of kings beguiled,
For ever outcast and exiled:
Like night-owl mourning, as she strays,
Her joy through dark and distant ways.
Like timid hind or hunted deer,
Through secret glens I tread in fear.
Shunning the loving friends who hold
The house of hosts so loved of old.
Their forms shone glorious as the lights
On the deep snows of frosted heights.
All these I left--mine own--whose love
Was generous as the Sun above.
But they are now hate-filled as though
Hate's sea would never ebb ward flow.
Yes, since beguiled by you I fled,
Misfortune follows where I tread.
Lost now my white sailed fleet's array,
Through you my band is lost for aye.
Gone all my wealth, my gems, my gold,
All for the tale of love you told!
To me my friends are lost, to me
No more my country mine shall be.
Lost are my men whom none e'er found
Weak behind shield on battle ground.
Lost is their kindness evermore
The love for me the Feinne once bore.
Lost to mine honour mine own right,
Lost music's joy and lost delight;
Erin and all I there have known,
For your ill-omened love alone.
Return I dare not,--may not,--never
Know their great friendship, gone for ever.
More than the beast of sharpest beard
My deed in hate by Fionn is feared.
Yes, fairest Grinie, thou hast done
Ill to thyself in love thus won.
Thou, winning hatred, wentst with me,
And kingly joys were spurned by thee.
O Diarmid! O Diarmid! of face far more fair
Than the new-fallen snow, or the hill flowret rare,
The sound of thy voice was more dear to my breast
Than all the bright satin the Fianti possessed.
More beloved to me is the hue of thine eyes,
Those eyes like the morning's bright dew of the skies,
Ay, dearer to me than all strength or all gold
The great hall of the king of the Feinne shall e'er hold.
Love's mark is more sweet on thy beautiful brow
Than honey that drops where the green grasses bow;
Ah, when I beheld it above me, how pale
Seemed the glory and power of the Monarch of Fail.
My heart seemed to fall as I looked at thy face,
Adoring thy might ever blended with grace,
And wert thou not mine, to be gained to my side,
Not one day in this world would my spirit abide.
Oh! white-handed hero, so handsome, so strong,
Although it is I who have wrought all thy wrong,
Yet stay, stay again with me, wife would I be,
Vowing never on earth to be faithless to thee.
Why love a woman mild in speech,
And yet a traitoress to each?
'Twas misery sundered my life from the king's,
I left thee awhile, for love, torturing, stings;
Never more will I leave thee-my tender love round
Like fresh boughs for thy life, would have sheltered
and crowned thee.
Fulfil then thy word, though so faithless, how fair!
Thy love, oh my Grinie, no giant shall share.
_Note._--From Gaelic verse, printed by J. F. Campbell, Esq.,
in "Leabhar na Feinne."
_THE DEATH OF THE BOAR_
[Taken from "Leabhar na Feinne," and a prose version written
down from oral recitation by J. Dewar.]
This vale of Peace, this glen close by,
Where deer and elk would often cry,
Of old saw the fleet-footed Fianti bound
In the strath of the west as they followed the hound.
List if you wish to hear a lay
Of gentle folks long passed away,
Of him who was Prince; of Gulban's blue hill,
And sorrow-cursed Diarmid's sad legend of ill.
Loved Ossian, sweetest voiced, what day
But sees us listeners to thy lay?
Such strains from no birds of the shoreland can float,
Though dawn give each leaf in the woodland a note.
My own good king was hunting gone,
They whom no deerlike terror won,
His Feinne, through the secret glens followed, and we
Descended the slopes that lead down to the sea.
Then saw our own great king, whose word
The Feinne, the brave, obeying heard,
A nine folded shaving of wood brightly curled,
Shining white, as to seaward the swift waters swirled.
He grasped it, scanning it, the coil
Hid five feet and a span of soil;
Then loudly he cried, "Ah, Diarmid is here,
No swordsman of Cormac, but Diarmid is near!"
In truth, my own good king then swore
To break his fast and drink no more,
Until were unearthed the vile face of his foe,
If the caves of all Erin should refuge bestow.
Our hounds we sent, and shouting went
Where o'er the vales the branches bent;
The wild-cat we chased from the glens, that the cheer
And cries of our hunting might fall on his ear.
He who was never weak in fight
Heard the loud voices strike the height;
To Grinie he cried, "Though the hounds do not bay,
I wait not their voice, to the hunt I'll away."
O Diarmid! wait until they cry,
That hunting shout is but a lie,
Where grieves for his wife Cuall's son, there for thee
Thou know'st thy peril for ever must be.
Ere hounds can open on the scent,
To every chase my steps are bent,
And shame were it now for the king's evil will
To lose a good hunt as it sweeps o'er the hill.
Then down came Diarmid to the vale,
To the famed sons of Innisfail,
And glad was the king, for his foe in his sight
Came aidless and powerless to baffle his might.
Where o'er his red straths Gulban soars,
Were haunts well loved by savage boars,
And fine were the knolls on the blue mountain's face,
Where oft for King Fionn resounded the chase.
There Grinie's love brought her to shame,
'Twas there the king, with cheeks of flame,
Commanded the hunt, and 'twas there Diarmid stood
To watch for the boar if he broke from the wood.
Deceit a grievous evil wrought!
The monster's ear our tumult caught;
He moved in the glen, as from east and from west,
The shouting grew louder as nearer we pressed.
Envenomed, old, rage-filled, his jaw
Foamed as his eyes the heroes saw,
And faster he went, his strong bristles and mane
Erect, sharp as darts, strong as wood of the plain;
_High reeds that fringed a marsh he found,--
Turned on the dogs all baying round,
And killed in a moment the bravest, and glared
As though to the combat their master he dared._
A huge old boar hastes yonder, mark
Of wounding full and bloodstains dark,
Now follow yourself, noble Diarmid, there goes
A monster of evil and terrible woes.
As quick his way the warrior took,
No trembling hand the javelin shook,
And hurrying fast as he closed with the boar
He rushed as in floodtide the wave to the shore.
Shot gleaming from white hand the spear,
Straight through the flank its path to shear,
But, splintering there, left the head buried deep;
The shaft fell in three as it whirred o'er the steep.
The sword, the olden, he unsheathed
That victory in each battle breathed,
Then died the great beast on its blade's dripping length;
Unweakened, unharmed rose the youth in his strength.
But gloom the monarch's heart oppressed,
For from the hillside to the west,
He saw how fair Diarmid, unhurt by the tooth,
A conqueror stood in the beauty of youth.
_He saw the Feinne's loud wandering band,
Deep-ringed around the carcass stand,
And heard as they praised the good courage and might
That vanquished so soon the grim beast in the fight._
[The verses in italics are from the prose version received from J. Dewar]
_But Diarmid went apart, lest he
To praise of self should listener be;
That praise was to Conan's vile envy a sting,
Whose eye looked for gain to the hands of the king._
_A dart in deadly poison dipped
Among the rough black hair he slipped,
And none could have seen where the bristles o'erlaid
The point firmly set of the venomous blade._
Then silent long, the king at last
Spake, all his thought to hatred cast,
"O Diarmid, now measure the Boar, snout to heel,
What length on the ground may the dark hide conceal?"
What man among the Feinne e'er saw
The youth from friend or foe withdraw?
He measured the back barefooted, and passed
Unharmed down the rugged spine, rigid and vast.
"O youth, whose weapons wound so sore,
I pray thee prove this yet once more,
Whate'er thou desirest I'll give thee, but see,
From foot to the snout what the measurement be?"
Again his sandals he unlaced,
And 'gainst the hair he slowly paced,
_And bare was the foot where alone mortal harm
Could strike his limbs guarded by magic and charm._
_There at one spot, lifers crimson well
Was fenced by no enchanted spell.
Ah! if on that death-spot but one vein were rent,
How staunchless the flow of lifts fountain unpent!_
And fear was on him: as he stepped,
A keen pang through his senses swept,
For, pierced by the venomous bristle, his sight
Saw gloom shroud the mountain, and darkness the light.
Full soon the poison through his veins
Ran like a fire with fever's pains,
Then sank the bright locks of the warrior brave,
Whose face bore in anguish the hue of the grave.
His blood ran fast, as down a hill
From some high spring a slender rill;
Ah, piteous it was on the brae to behold
How the guileless youth lay in his torture untold.
The cheek which shared the berry's hue
Which flushes red the hillside's dew,
Now blanched, was as cold as a cloud when it lies
Blue-shadowed at noon in the vault of the skies.
A drink, one drink, O Fionn, give,
One cup to let me drink and live!
My blood flows so fast, give me drink from the spring.
Oft kind were thy words, the good words of a king!
No! not one cup your lips shall drain,
To quench your thirst, to cool your pain!
What good is your life to me? what has it won,
That the deed of one hour has not more than undone?
Not mine the wish to cause you care,
In East or West, not here or there!
But Grinie's the evil, when, captive, I found
Her love but a shadow, her word but a sound!
A drink, one drink, O Fionn, give,
One cup to let me drink and live!
My blood flows so fast, give me drink from the spring,
Oft kind were thy words, the good words of a king.
No cup of mine your lips shall drain
To quench your thirst, to cool your pain,
What good is your life, can its fair deeds o'erpower
The guilt of one act, and the curse of one hour?
If you could think of Sween's dread day--
No! vain that memory passed away!--
When fell the eight hundred and three, and my sword
In the narrow pass drank of their blood as it poured!
When prisoned in the Rowan Hold,
Of gratitude your words once told,
When the white teeth were wounding your limbs, and your breath
Came quick, for the fray brought you near unto death.
And yet again your friend was I
In Tara when the strife waxed high,
Not vainly you sought in that hour for a friend,
I fought for thee, king, making Enmity bend;
And Innse's sons, the three, the brave,
From lands far hidden by the wave:
I killed them for thee, who oppressest me sore;
Hard died they, O ruthless one, washed in their gore!
Remember Connell! see again
Carbui front thee with his men,
To the host of the Feinne see how threatening their gaze:
Ah, Gulban, I burn, as I look on thy braes.
If known to Oige's women fair
How snared and trapped I here despair,
Their mourning would rise, and their men would lament
The friend whose sad eyes on Ben Gulban are bent.
I, Diarmid of Newry named,
Of Connaught, of Beura famed--
Foster son to that Angus of Broa whose stride
Revealed the best man on the far mountain side:--
"The Eagle of the Red Cascade"--
"The blue-eyed Hawk whom no man stayed"--
They called me--"the strongest of all who could throw
The stone, or the spear, at our game or our foe."
_Then knew he, as his strength grew less
That death would end his sore distress;
The Feinne stood around, and they pitied the man
So weak, once the strongest who fought in their van._
_They searched for water, and they found
A spring, clear-eyed, in mossy ground,
But cup had they none, and their hands, as they went,
Let fall every drop ere o'er Diarmid they bent._
_In bitterness of soul he thought,
"They mock me, now that I am naught,
Your kind hands all leak! of your deed men shall tell,
The 'spring of holed palms' shall they name yonder well._
"_Yet would I ask you, now I die,
To lay me where the stream flows by
The water of Lunnan, for there in my grave
I'll hear, though I see not, its cold shining wave._
"_There place a pillar stone, and bear
My Grinie some day to me there,
And well to the traveller the words shall be known,
'Tis Diarmid who lies 'neath yon Pillar of Stone._
"Oh woe is me! a foul swine's prey,
The victor lord of battle's day!
I faint, done to death, let me turn, let me lie
With my face to Ben Gulban, to see it, and die."--
In tears, and mourning sore,
Then to his grave we bore
That brave and hardy one;
On a green knoll alone,
Beneath a mighty stone
That sees the western sun.
When Grinie coming there,
At last of all aware,
Beheld his narrow bed;
As though her life took flight,
Bereft of sense and sight,
She fell, above the dead!
Then from her swoon awoke,
Her voice in cries outbroke,
And in this song of woe,
Wherein his praise was heard
In every mournful word,
Above the river's flow.
Two in a fastness of rock were concealed,
Oft we lay there for a year unrevealed,
Though hidden from Fionn by the stream as it leapt,
Where it wet not the head of my love as he slept.
In the hunt's contest the keenest to share,
Hard was that bed for thy thick golden hair!
Never thought he of fear as he sprang to the cry,
When the chase was afoot, and he joined it, to die!
Hour of my torture, ochone, how the pain,
Sore, and sharp, as at first, smites again and again,
Sightless dear eyes, voiceless lips, and the breath
Sweet as honey, now lost in the chambers of death!
Sister's son of a king, a monarch high-placed,
Victor and friend, once with courtesy graced!
Ah what a generous heart to have nursed
Vengeance so causeless, a plot so accursed!
Diarmid, O Love, the best sword of them all,
Victory flew to the field at thy call;
Strongest arm in the games, thou wast ever the best,
Whether called to the fight, or to aid the distressed.
Bluer your eye than the blaeberry kissed
On the high mountain's shoulder by sun and by mist;
Gentler your eyelids' soft motion, than where
The upland grass waves to the breezes of air.
Whiter your teeth than the blossoming spray
Danced in the winds 'mid the brightness of day;
Never harp was so sweet, never bird-song above,
As the voice that is hushed on the lips of my love.
Like to the sun-nurtured sparkles of air
Were the fair yellow waves of the locks of thy hair,
Pure as foam the soft skin of the one of our race,
Who was mighty in mind as majestic in grace.
Sad is my heart, to no joy-shout replying,
Restless, lamenting in grief never-dying;
Oh, the mavis calls sweetly in drear deserts lone,
But in vain I must yearn for the notes I have known.
Now shall my soul find its calm nevermore
In the depths--the blue depths--of your eyes as of yore,
Overborne by a perilous flood I shall know
Surcease of no sorrow, no lightening of woe!
Dark is your dwelling-place under the mould,
Narrow your frozen bed, songless and cold;
Never morn shalt thou see, till the day of God's doom,
When awakened, O hero, thou'lt rise from the tomb.
Dead in the earth, and there hidden away,
Who shall not yearn for thee, fairer than day?
Be my blessing now thine, be it thine evermore,
Let it rest on the beauty 'twas mine to adore.
Each bard prepared his harp for singing
That calm and lofty hero's praise;
Deep sorrow through the long notes ringing,
How wild their dirge, how sad their gaze!
Mayest thou be blessed, O thou our fairest
Beloved, once to fortune dear,
If still for Ireland's Feinne thou carest,
See how they wail thine absence here.
O strength, like flood on foemen pouring,
Or swoop of eagle from the sky,
Or as the rush through ocean roaring
When myriads from leviathan fly!
Beura's lord! thy fair locks, waving
Hath ceased, pressed down beneath the soil:
Thou'rt seen no more the billows braving,
No more thou'lt know the hunter's toil.
When blows are rained thy blade no longer
Shall strike where clear thy war cry rose,
O man, whose love than man's seemed stronger,
Whose voice no more high Tara knows.
For thee our eyes are red with weeping,
No beauty like to thine have we;
Our solace gone, our best are keeping
The death watch, bravest soul, with thee.
Yes, fallen all, to leave me living,
A leafless tree decayed and grey,
Old oaks and young, their green life giving;
The strong must fall, the weak must stay!
Yet though to-day so frail, what glory
Around my youth once shone of old!
Changed world! this poor man, weak and hoary,
Was great in war and rich in gold.
_KING ARTHUR AND THE CAPTIVE MAIDEN._
(TRANSLATED FROM THE GAELIC. )
 Taken down in Gaelic by Dewar.
King Arthur on a journey went,
His men and he on hunting bent.
Came to the hill for victories known;
He, and Sir Balva, armed alone.
The King of Britain dreamed at night
Of fairest maid 'neath Heaven's light.
Her face's beauteous hues so clear
More than all gold to him were dear.
Yet all unknown where dwelt the maid,
His doubt and awe the search delayed.
For better were a battle stern
Than, blindly wandering, still to yearn.
Then spoke Sir Balva, kindly, meek,
"It is my wish this maid to seek.
Let me now take my Squire and hound,
And search until the maid be found."
Then seven weeks, with toil and pain,
We travelled wearily the main.
No harbour gave our ship a home,
No land kept off the drifting foam.
But high above the rough sea wave,
We saw a smooth-walled castle brave.
Its gables shone with glass. We laughed,
"Ah many a drink-horn there is quaffed."
Then sailing to its base there fell
A chain that lashed the ocean swell.
I seized it, fearless, hand o'er hand
I climbed upon the frowning land,
And seated on a golden chair,
I found a maiden wondrous fair,
Holding a mirror on her knee,
Her vesture beautiful to see.
I blest her, whose sad voice replied,
"Grief here thy blessing doth betide.
O comer from the sea, thou'lt feel
The heart of stone, the blade of steel"
Though merciless he be, yet know,
His sword can deal my heart no blow.
His love or hatred I despise
If gained the favour of thine eyes.
"The giant's star-white sword alone,"
Said she, "can wring from him a groan.
O hide thee in some place secure,
Or, gallant knight, thy death is sure."
Sir Balva heard the giant roar,
"What wave-thrown stranger climbed our shore?"
Her voice replied, "Now come, nor wait,
My soul, for thee my love is great.
Put thou thy head upon my knee,
I'll sweetly play the harp to thee."
He rested, and a laugh displayed
The white teeth of the blue-eyed maid.
The wild harp-music sweetly rung,
And sweeter still her tuneful tongue.
And on his eyes, by sea winds fanned,
Sleep laid full soon his tranquil hand.
Then took they off his star-white sword
And slew the Castle's Giant Lord.
Thus how the captive maid was found,
Oft heard they of The Table Round.
_SEANN ORAN GAILIC_.
[Note: The Gaelic spelt as by Dewar.]
Do reir beulaithris ann an linn Righ Artair bhi ann an Duneidean,
bha Triath urramach Eirinneach a chuir tigh didean air
a chraig ris an abairte Aill-seid-chuan, agus ghoid e na braighde
riomhfhinne uasal, agus thug e i do'n Dun a thog e air Aill-seid-chuan,
s bha e ga gleidh an sin na braighde. Bha Righ Artair
latha anns a bheinn a sealg, luidh e a' leigeadh a sgitheas dheth,
chaidil e agus bhruadair e air an rimhfhinne a bha ann am braighdeanas,
agus ghabh e toil a cuir saor, ach cha robh fios aige c'aite
an robh i. Ghabh sir Bhalbha os laimh dol g'a h iarraidh na'm
faigheadh e long o'n Righ. Thug an Righ long dh'a, agus sheol
sir Bhalbha gus gun d'fhuair e air thuileamus i, agus thug e
dh'ionnsaidh Righ Airteir i, agus b'ann do'n chuis chaidh an t
oran a leasas a dheanamh.
Turus a chaidh Righ Arstair s a shluagh
Gu tullach na'm buadh, a shealg;
Gun duine mar-ris an Righ
Ach Sir Bhalbha, fo a lion arm.
Gun duine, &c.
Chunnaic Righ Bhreatun s e na shuain
An aon bhean a b'aillidh snuadh fo'n ghrein
'S b fhearr leis ro na bh'aige a dh'or
An og-bhean bhi aige fein.
'S b fhearr leis, &c.
Ach b'fhearr leis tuiteam ann an sin
Le comhrag fir, mar bha e fein.
No dol a dh'iarraidh na mna
S gun fhios aige cia an t'aite fo n ghrein.
No dol a dh'iarraidh, &c.
Thubairt Sir Bhalbha suairce cuin.
'S e mo run dol a dh'iarraidh na mna,
Theid mi fein mo ghille s mo chu
Nar triuir 'g a sireadh gun dail
Theid mi fein, &c
Seachd seachdainnean le stri
Bha sinn sgith a sinbhal cuain
Gun chala gun talamh gun fhonn
Gun ionad amis an gabhadh an long tamh.
Gun chala gun, &c.
Chuannacas an iomall a chuain Ghairbh
Caisteal mor min-gheal ghuirm,
Uinneagan gloine air a stuagh
S bu lion-mhor ann cuaich coirn.
Uninneagan gloine, &c.
Air dhuinn bhi seoladh stigh ri bhun,
Chaidh slabhraidh a chuir a nuas;
S roimh an t slabhraidh cha do ghabh-ar crith
Ach chaidhearurra na m'ruith suas.
S roimh an t slabhraidh, &c.
Cuanna'cas an ighean eididh og
Air cathair oir na suidhe a steach
Sgathan gloine air a glun,
S bheannaich-eam do a gnuis gheal.
Sgathan gloine, &c.
Fhir a thainig oirun o'n chuan
S truagh brigh do bheannachadh ann.
* * * * *
Ged thigeadh am fear mor na m dhail
Gun iochd gun bhaigh le a chlaidheamh cruaidh,
Air do ghuidh-se a bhean bhlath.
S coingeis leam a ghradh seach fhuath.
Air do ghuidh-se, &c.
Arm cha deargadh air an thear,
Ach a chlaidheamh run-geal fein.
Agus is fhearr dhuit dol fo-chleith
Do aite air leith tearruinnt' o'n eug.
Agus is fhearr, &c.
Chaidh Sir Bhalbha fa-chleith
Agus a steach thainig am fear mor
Tha boladh an fhar-bhalaich a steach
Oirrinn iar teachd o thuinn na traigh.
Tha boladh an, &c.
Anamain, a sheircein, s a ruin
Is mor an gaol a thug mi dhuit,
Cuir thusa do cheann air mo ghluin,
Agus seinnidh mi ciuin duit a chruit.
Cuir thusa do, &c.
Chuir e a cheann air uchd an ighinn uir,
Bu ghuirme suil, s bu ghile deud,
S ge bu bhinn a sheinneadh i a chruit,
Bu bhinneadh an guth bha teachd o a beul.
S ge bu bhinn, &c.
Air dhuinn bhi cuairteachadh na'n cuan
Chaidil e suain, na thruim sheamh fann,
S thug iad an claidheamh a chrios
S ghearr iad gun fhios d'dheth an ceann,
S thug iad an, &c.
Ghoid iad a bhraighdeach s gu leir
S bha a bhean fein fo chumha thruim
Siod agaibh aithris mo sgeul
S mar a leugh iad am bord-cruinn.
Siod agaibh, &c.