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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 innumer· able 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
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.
discomposed the temper and wounded the religious feelings of his companion, who aims to répress
the cherished pride of the hero and the minstrel, and who exhibits, whilst making the attempt, sentiments of peculiar sublimity and beauty :
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.
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 !
The royal robe, the social board,
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.
which it is enforced, it is scarcely possible not to feel that the venerable apostle of the sister island has exhibited no very abundant stock of pity or forbearance.
O Oisin of the mighty deed !
Thy folly 1 deplore ;
And give the subject o'er.
Nor Finn, nor all the Finnian race,
Can with his power compare
And rules the realms of air !
For man yon azure vault he spreads,
And clothes the flow'ry plains ;
And blooming fruit ordains !
Replete with life to flow;
And sun's meridian glow!
Would'st thou thy puny king compare
To that Almighty hand
And bade their powers expand ?
The rejoinder which now falls from the lips of Oisin is, in the highest degree, animated and cha-. racteristic :