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Or Mac O'Dhuivne, graceful form,
Joy of the female sight;
And dare the unequal fight:
Mac-Garra, conquest's boast,
His single arm an host.
Or could Mac-Ronan now appear,
In all his manly charms;
To fill my aged arms !
Not then, as now, should Calphruin's son
His sermons here prolong;
And hum his holy song !
As erst, the Fennii's fame;
And thrillid the feeling frame;
to the character and valour of a chief, who was not allied to his family, and whose tribe had even, at different times, been their very bitterest enemies."-Reliques, p. 76, 77.
* Oscar the son of Ossian, who is said by the Irish bards to have been killed at the battle of Gabhra.
+ Fergus, one of the brothers of Ossian, and equally celebrated in the poetical annals of Ireland for the gift of song. He is beautifully and characteristically distinguished in the poem of Magnus the Great, to whom he had been sent Your bells, for me, might sound in vain,
Did Hugh the little live;
The ceaseless boon to give;
Or Conan bald, though oft his tongue
To rage provoked my breast,
Oft lull'd the ranks to rest.
Sweeter to me their voice would seem
Than thy psalm-singing train;
Than that thy clerks maintain !
This recollection of his departed friends and compatriots in arms is, if we except a few modern allusions, precisely in the spirit of almost innumerable passages in the Scottish Ossian, and blended too with the same sense of conscious superiority on the part of the unhappy bard. The lofty character, however, of Oisin's retort seems to have discomposed the temper and wounded the religious feelings of his companion, who aims to repress the cherished pride of the hero and the minstrel, and who exhibits, whilst making the attempt, sentiments of peculiar sublimity and beauty:
by Fingal, to inquire the motive of his landing with an hostile intention. Having replied to the insolent language of Magnus with great but dignified courtesy, the poet tells us,
Mild Fergus then, his errand done,
Return'd with wonted grace ;
RELIQUES, p. 47.
Cease thy vain thoughts, and fruitless boasts;
Can death thy chiefs restore ? -
Their glories are no more.
Confide in him whose high decree
O'er-rules all earthly power ;
To him devote thy hour.
And let thy contrite prayer be made
To him who rules above;
For his protecting love !
Though (with thy will perverse at strife),
Thou deem'st it strange to say,—
And took that life away.
The allusion of the last two lines of this striking address brings to the memory of the bard, with all its bitterest aggravation, the irreparable loss which he has sustained. He cannot avoid contrasting his present forlorn and impotent state with the highly
honoured pre-eminence from which he has fallen ; and he replies to the admonitory zeal of his spiritual adviser in language of the most exquisite pathos.
Alas! thy words sad import bear,
And grating sounds impart;
And anguish to my heart !
Not for thy God these torrents spring
That drain their weeping source,
Now lies a lifeless corse !
Too much I have already done,
Thy godhead's smile to gain;
And with thy clerks remain !
Music and mirth are o'er;
I now enjoy no more.
For now no bards from Oisin's hand
The wonted gift receive;
Nor martial feats achieve * !
* Another and a similar picture of the lonely and forlorn state of the once highly-honoured bard is given by Miss Brooke in a literal version from a poem of the like age with that in the text, entitled “A Dialogue between Oisin and St. Patrick ;” where the former, lamenting the loss of his
O Inisfail ! thy Oisin goes
To guard thy ports no more ;
Who dare insult thy shore ! We can scarcely, indeed, form a picture of more utter destitution than what is presented to us in the person of the Celtic Homer, whether it be drawn from Scottish or Irish sources. Nor can we avoid thinking, that when the poets of Erin chose to make their Oisin contemporary with St. Patrick, they would have given us a much more amiable idea of the saint, had they represented him as somewhat more lenient, more ready to make allowance for impressions rendered indelible not only by length of time, but by the ties of consanguinity, love, and friendship, and the recollections of former fame and glory. How much, soever, therefore, we may acquiesce in the truth of the following reply, and however greatly we may admire the imagery by kindred and friends, exclaims, “To survive them is my depth of woe! the banquet and the song have now no charms for me! Wretched and old,—the poor solitary remnant of the Fenii! Why,– why am I yet alive?--Alas, O Patrick ! grievous is my state !-the last of all my race !--My heroes are gone! my strength is gone!-Bells I now hear, for the songs of my bards; and age, blindness and woe, are all that remain of Oisin !"-Reliques, p. 76.