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«* National Library of Scotland ■■jin B000157358*. V POEMS OF OSSIAN, IN THE ORIGINAL GAELIC, WITH A LITERAL TRANSLATION INTO LATIN, BY THE LATE ...»

-- [ Page 48 ] --

It was thought proper to say something here respecting Taura, being so often mentioned in the Poems of Ossian, as one of Fingal’s places of residence. The descriptions given of it in these poems, place it in Cona, on a green hill impending over the * sea, where it had a view of the hills of Cona, of the sea and islands. It is not improbable, therefore, that Taura was but another name of Selma; for what Ossian says of the one place, is equally applicable to the other. He had seen it when the generous shell went round, and the voice of the bard sounded in its halls; and had also witnessed its fall,which he imputes to fire.

The following passages are descriptive of Taura,

and also of Selma:

Thaineas o Arda le buaidh, Gu h uallach air steuda nan coigreach, ’S ar gean mar ghathaibh na greine ’S i luidhe siar air sleibhte Thaura.

Chiteadh am ft na fairge Coillte le ’n carraigibh eighinn, ’S clann ag amharc le ioghnadh, Air smuidean Thaura fuidhe.

Mar bhogh na fraois air sleibhte, Bha oighean aoibhinn nar c6 ail, A’ seinn caithream nan ceud clar Le manran binn an orain.

Dr. Smith's Ancient Poems. Fall of Taura, v. 43, Sfc.

506 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

Translation.

We came from Arda with victory, Lofty on the steeds of the strangers, And our joy was like the beams of the sun On the hills of Taura when setting in the west.

There were seen in the calm face of the sea Woods with their ivy-covered rocks, And children looking with wonder At the smoke of Taura below.

Like the rainbow on the hills Our joyful virgins came forth to meet us, Singing triumph with a hundred harps, Accompanied by the sweet voice of the song.

The above mentioned Arda, from which the Fingalians returned victorious, is probably Ardach, a place well known at this day, which lies about half way between Stirling and Grief, and where are vestiges of one of the greatest Roman camps to be seen in Scotland. That the Romans were the enemies, whom the Fingalians completely defeated and dispersed at Arda, appears evident from part of the same poem, being the song of triumph, which the maids of Morven sang when they came forth to cono-ratulate their heroes on their return.

O The Song.

Co so liomhaidh na eide Le mharc uaibhreach, ard-cheumach, Glas-mhuinneach, le smuidre ceathaich O shroin mar dheathach Thaura ?

—Co so air an each steudach

AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIANA POEMS.

Las-shuileach, chobhar-bheulach, Amhacb m^lr bhogba-catha Lubta grinn san ard-adbar ?

—Co ach Fionn nam faintai feacbd Mharcaicbeas am bras each srianach ?

Tha do chliu, a righ na Feinne, Mu’n cuairt duit, mar ghathaibh greine.

Na sholus tha miltean aoibhneach ’S an gnuis mar an lear is fh air;

An gean mar Chdthan sa cheituin, Tra bhios iasg ri cuilean ag eiridh.

Ach na laoich co ciuin an slth, Tha mar dhoininn ri am na strl.

—Theich sibh, a choigrich o chein, ’Sa rigbrean an domhain gu leir;

Theich sibh gun eide, gun each, D’ fhag sibh nur deigh iad ’san fheachd.

—“ C’ ait’ a bheil ur ’n airm, ’s ur ’n eide ?” —“ Feoruichibh de shiol nan sleibhte.” Theich ur daoine fein gu niirach, Cha bhi ’n ainm am feasd ’sna dknaibh.

Oigh cha tig am feasd nan cdail Nan teach uaigneach tha iad brdnach.

—Brhnach bithibhs oighean aineil, ’S ball-chrith biodh air righe’ ’n domhain;

Le clkr a’s ceol bidh sinne aoibhinn, A’ cuir failt air sliogh na Feinne.

***** ’Sni’m b’ fhois do chFtraibh nam bard An Taura ard san uair sin, Le ’n crith ghuth ait ’san talla aoibhinn, i Chluinnt’ ann an eein am-fuaimneach.

508 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

Tha ’n darag dhearg na lasair, A solus gu farsuing a’ sgaoile Gu ciar imeachd an aineil Air sliabh na falluinge doirche.

Translation.

Who is this bright in his armour, With his proud high-bounding, Grey-maned steed, emitting a misty vapour From his nostrils like the smoke of Taurar —Who is this on the coursing steed With flaming eyes, and foaming mouth, His neck like the bow of the battle Raised high with an elegant bend ?

—Who but the chief of the Feinnian forces, It is Fingal that rides the rapid steed of the reins.

Thy fame, O king of the Feinni, Is around thee, like the beams of the sun, In its light thousands are glad, And their faces like the sea under a calm;

Their joy is like Cona in the early part of summer, When the fishes rise to catch the flies.

But the heroes so mild in peace, Are like a storm in the time of strife, f —Ye have fled, O strangers from afar, And ye kings of all the world;

Ye have fled without arms, or horses, Ye have left them behind you in the field of battle —“ Where are your arms and your coats of mail?” —“ Inquire of the sons of the mountains.” Your own men have shamefully fled, Their name shall never be in the songs.

AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’S POEMS. 509 No virgin will come with a harp to meet them;

: In their secret dwellings they are sad.

—Sad let the virgins of the strangers be, And trembling fear seize the kings of the world ;

With harp and song we will rejoice,, And hail the heroes of the Feinni.

* * * * * Nor rested the harps of the bards At that time in lofty Taura, [the delightful hall, Accompanied by their own quivering joyful voice in Their sound was heard at a great distance.





The red oak is in a blaze, Its light spreading itself wide To the dusky path of the stranger, Who travels on the dark-clad heath.

The reader will observe, that the last eight lines in the preceding passage, is the same in substance with a foregoing one quoted from Carthon, page 148, both of which set forth the great joy of the Feinni, on account of the victory they had obtained over their enemies at Ardach ; with this difference only, that in the one Selma is made the scene of their rejoicing, in the other Taura; which makes it highly probable, that both the names were applied to the same place. The dark heath, mentioned in the last line, to which the light of the oak reached from Taura, answers exactly to the heath of Lora.

Seasuidh righ nan laithe nar deigh, Air tulaich an t-sleibh an robh Taura;

Chi e Cdthan gu leug-shruthach

510 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

A’siubhal ro choillte treudach ;

Chi e ’n cehi an cuan critheach.

Le ioniad innis uaine, ’S am maraich a’ leum air s&ile, Gu traigh aig cois’ a chluaine.

“ ’S aoibhinn an raon so, deir an righ, Chitear uaidh gach linn, a’s cnoc, Togar talla dhomh fein ann, Am fradharc eild’, agus bhoc.” Tha ’n tulach uaine ’ga cladhach, An tulach laoghach an robh Taura;

Tha sleaghan ag eiridh air dhreach an teine;

Le sgiathan leathan mu ’n cuairt doibh.

“ ’Si leaba nan laoch a t’ ann ;

Druidibh, a chlann, a chbnuidh chughann.” Same Poem, ver. 330, Translation.

The king of future days shall stand Upon the hill where Taura stood ;

He shall see Cona’s pebbly streams Rolling through woods abounding with herds;

He shall see at a distance the trembling ocean, With many green islands, And the mariner bounding on the waves Toward the shore at the plain of Taura.

Delightful is this plain, the king will say, From it we see each lake, and hill, Here let a house be built for me, In sight of hinds and stags.

The green hill is a digging, The beautiful hill where Taura was;

AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’S POEMS. 511 Spears arise of the colour of fire, With broad shields around them.

“ It is the bed of the heroes you have there, O children, shut up the narrow dwelling.” It may not be deemed improper to remark here, that, a few years ago, one of the tenants of an adjoining farm, when digging for stones nigh the hill of Selma, had discovered a stone coffin, which contained human bones of more than the ordinary size.

Many other pieces of antiquity have been at different periods found in this place. Nor is it to be doubted, but curiosity might be gratified still with new discoveries ; for if Taura or Selma (it matters not by which of the names it is called) fell in the manner described by Ossian, that is, by taking fire in the absence of the Feinni, it must have buried under it many things, which remain there still.

About two short miles south of Selma is the ferry of Conuil, where Loch Kite discharges itself into the sea. A short space above this ferry is a great cataract, or water-fall. This fall answers so well the description of the Eas Laoire of Ossian, and Macpherson’s Lora, as will appear hereafter, that it will be in vain to look for it any where else. It is occasioned by a rock which protends itself in the form of an arch from either side of the channel. Over this rock the tide first rolls inward with great impetuosity into the lake; when the lake swells into a level with the sea at high tide, there is a perfect stillness, and vessels of a considerable size can sail over the fall. But when the tide returns from this

512 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

arm of the sea, falling over the precipitous face of the rock towards the west from a height of upwards of twelve feet, it roars and deafens all around it;

and the whole channel is seen to boil and foam, to the distance of a mile below the fall That Labhar or Laoire (Avhich signifies loud, or noisy) was the original name of this fall, seems more than probable from other circumstances independent of what Ossian says. 1st. No other name could be applied more expressive of the thing meant. 2. No other waterfall in Scotland can, with equal propriety, hear the name. It is unquestionably by far the greatest, and consequently makes the greatest noise. 3d. The surrounding country preserves the name still, though discontinued to the fall; for Lorn (in the Gaelic language Labharuinn) is composed of labhar, loud or noisy, and fonn, land, which two words, when compounded, become Labharfhuinn, but the fh being quiescent, it sounds Labharuinn, which is the present name of the country on both sides of the fall, and signifies the land bordering upon Lora. As to the present name of this fall, which is Conuil, it is variously analyzed ; and those, who are supposed to be most successful in tracing its origin, will have it to be compounded of con, which signifies furious, or raging, and tuil, a flood, which when put together sound conthuil, the t being always silent before h in the Gaelic language. This name is very natural also, when it is considered with what furious motion this extraordinary body of water precipitates itself over the rock. But it may be doubted whether the reader of Ossian will be satisfied with this etymology;

AUTHENTICITY OF OSSIAN’s POEMS. 513 for when he considers, that all that tract of hills and vales between Loch Eite and Loch Leven, went originally under the name of C^than, Macpherson’s Cona, he will be apt to substitute C6than instead of Con, and then the name becomes C6thanthuil, but, leaving out the quiescent letters, it sounds Coanhuil, i. e. the flood of Cona, a name not improper, and which it might have along with the name Lora, the one arising from an idea of its greatness, the other from that of its quality.

The following passages from the poems of Ossian, are descriptive of Lora, and its situation with regard

to Selma:

Nach ait, ighean Thoscair, am fuaim ?

“ Bithidh Oisian’s Malamhin gu luath leinn ’S amhuil e’s toirm Laoire do !n aineal, ’S gun e ’g amas air a shlighe san oiche.

Cha leir dha Seallama a ghaoil, ’S an doinionn ’san raon mu ’n cuairt;

An r6d cearr cughan air faondra, ’S taibhsean a’ glaodhaich na chluais.

Chluinn e mu dheire toirm Laoire, ’S e ’g radh le aoibhneas, “ tha Seallama dlu.” Dr. Smith's Ancient Poems. Fall of Taura, v. 458, %c.

–  –  –

The storm is in the plain around ;

He wanders in a winding narrow path;

While ghosts are shrieking in his ear.

He hears at last the noise of Lora, And with joy he says, “ Selma is nigh That the fall of Lora was noisy, will appear evident

from the following lines :

–  –  –

Had Lora been a small stream, such as Macpherson supposes it to be in his note to Temora, Book V.

Ossian would not have compared the great Fingal to

it, as he has done in the following lines:

–  –  –

That near the fall of Lora, was the place where those who sought for Selma, whether friends or enemies, landed, or attempted to land, appears without doubt. That it then went under the name of Gala Chothain, that, is, the bay of Cona, is more than probable, as has been hinted above, and will be shewn hereafter.

The first of the following quotations, illustrative of what has been said, is taken from the Report of the Committee of the Highland Society. It is the same in substance with part of that episode in the third book of Fingal, called by Macpherson the Maid of Craca, and was taken by the Committee from a manuscript which belonged to the Dean of Lismore in Argyleshire, and which appears, from dates affixed to it, to have been written at different periods from 1512 to 1529Derrymir wlli gi dane Ach Finn ne waene agus Gowle Dethow churrych fa hard keym Wa na reym skoltyt ny downe Ne yarnyt tarn na tocht Gir yoyve calle si phort ynaa Ych techt doy her in ness Derre ass maceayve mnaa.

516 SUPPLEMENTAL OBSERVATIONS ON THE

This passage, in the Report of the Committee, is

translated as follows:

We all stood up in haste, Except Fingal himself and Gaul, To wait on the high-bounding boat Whose course was parting the waves.

It neither slackened nor rested Till it entered our wonted haven ;

It crossed the pool below the fall, When out of it rose a daughter of youth.

This translation is not conformable to the original,

particularly in the following line :

Ych techt doy her in ess.

The translator in his version says, that the vessel crossed the pool below the fall, not believing it possible that a vessel could cross a water-fall, especially against the current, and being ignorant, or not recollecting that at the fall of Lora, a vessel could sail over it at high tide.

The original in Gaelic orthography, with a proper



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