Imágenes de páginas

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:

Cease thy vain thoughts, and fruitless boasts ;

Can death thy chiefs restore ?--
Son of the king of mighty hosts,

Their glories are no more.

Confide in him whose high decree

O’er-rules all earthly power ;
And bend to him thy humble knee,

To him devote thy hour.

And let thy contrite prayer be made

To him who rules above;
Entreat for his almighty aid,

For his protecting love !

Though (with thy will perverse at strife),

Thou deem'st it strange to say,
He gave thy mighty father life,

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;
They come with torture to mine ear,

And anguish to my heart !

Not for thy God these torrents spring

That drain their weeping source,
But that my father, and my king,

Now lies a lifeless corse!

Too much I have already done,

Thy godhead's smile to gain;
That thus each wonted joy I shun,

And with thy clerks remain !

The royal robe, the social board,

Music and mirth are o'er ;
And the dear art I once adored,

I now enjoy no more.

For now no bards from Oisin's hand

The wonted gift receive;
Nor hounds nor horn I now command,

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 ;
To pay with death the foreign foes

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;
O ! cease thy frenzy thus to feed,

And give the subject o'er.

Nor Finn, nor all the Finnian race,

Can with his power compare
Who to yon orbs assigns their place,

And rules the realms of air !

For man yon azure vault he spreads,

And clothes the flow'ry plains ;
On every tree soft fragrance sheds,

And blooming fruit ordains !

'Tis he who gives the peopled stream,

Replete with life to flow;
Who gives the moon's resplendent beam,

And sun's meridian glow!
Would'st thou thy puny king compare

To that Almighty hand
Which form’d fair earth, and ambient air,

And bade their powers expand ?


It was not on a fruit or flower

My king his care bestow'd;
He better knew to show his power

In honour's glorious road.

To load with death the hostile field,

In blood his might procliam ;
Our land with wide protection shield,

And wing to heaven his fame!

In peace his tranquil hours to bless,

Beneath soft beauty's eye,
Or, on the uer'd field of chess

The mimic fight to try.

* Dr. Hyde says, “the old Irish were so greatly addicted to chess, that amongst them the possession of good estates has been often decided by it; and,” adds he, “ there are some estates, at this very time, the property whereof still depends upon the issue of a game at chess. For example, the heirs of two certain noble Irish families, whom we could name (to say nothing of others), hold their lands upon this tenure, viz. that one of them shall encounter the other at chess in this manner; that which eyer of them conquered, should seize and possess the estate of the other. Therefore,” says the doctor, “I am told they manage the affair prudently among themselves : once a year they meet, by appointment, to play at chess; one of them makes a move, and the other says, I will consider how to answer you next year. This being done, a public notary commits to writing the situation of the game, by which method a game that neither has won has been, and will be, continued for some hundred of years.' -Vallancey's Irish Grammar, Essay on the Celtic Language,


P. 85.

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