After an address to Malvina, the daughter of Toscar, Ossian proceeds to relate his own expedition to Fuärfed, an island of Scandinavia. Mal-orchol, king of Fuärfed, being hard pressed in war by Ton-thormod, chief of Sar-dronto (who had demanded in vain the daughter of Mal-orchol in marriage,) Fingal sent Ossian to his aid. Ossian, on the day after his arrival, came to battle with Ton-thormod, and took him prisoner. Mal-orchol offers his daughter, Oina-morul, to Ossian; but he, discovering her passion for Ton-thormod, generously surrenders her to her lover, and brings about a reconciliation between the two kings.
As flies the inconstant sun over Larmon's grassy hill so pass the tales of old along my soul by night! When bards are removed to their place, when harps are hung in Selma's hall, then comes a voice to Ossian, and awakes his soul! It is the voice of years that are gone! they roll before me with all their deeds! I seize the tales as they pass, and pour them forth in song. Nor a troubled stream is the song of the king, it is like the rising of music from Lutha of the strings. Lutha of many strings, not silent are thy streamy rocks, when the white hands of Malvina move upon the harp! Light of the shadowy thoughts that fly across my soul, daughter of Toscar of helmets, wilt thou not hear the song? We call back, maid of Lutha, the years that have rolled away! It was in the days of the king, while yet my locks were young, that I marked Con-cathlin <1> on high, from ocean's nightly wave. My course was towards the isle of Fuärfed, woody dweller of seas! Fingal had sent me to the aid Mal-orchol, king of Fuärfed wild: for war was around him, and our fathers had met at the feast.
In Col-coiled I bound my sails. I sent my sword to Mal-orchol of shells. He knew the signal of Albion, and his joy arose. He came from his own high hall, and seized my hand in grief. "Why comes the race of heroes to a falling king? Ton-thormod of many spears is the chief of wavy Sar-dronlo. He saw and loved my daughter, white-bosomed Oina-morul. He sought. I denied the maid, for our fathers had been foes. He came with battle to Fuärfed; my people are rolled away. Why comes the race of heroes to a falling king?"
I come not, I said, to look, like a boy, on the strife. Fingal remembers Mal-orchol, and his hall for strangers. From his waves the warrior descended on thy woody isle: thou wert no cloud before him. Thy feast was spread with songs. For this my sword shall rise, and thy foes perhaps may fail. Our friends are not forgot in their danger, though distant is our land.
"Descendant of the daring Trenmor, thy words are like the voice of Cruth-Loda, when he speaks from his parting cloud, strong dweller of the sky! Many have rejoiced at my feast; but they all have forgot Mal-orchol. I have looked towards all the winds, but no white sails were seen! but steel resounds in my hall, and not the joyful shells. Come to my dwelling, race of heroes! dark-skirted night is near. Hear the voice of songs from the maid of Fuärfed wild."
We went. On the harp arose the white hands of Oina-morul. She waked her own sad tale from every trembling string. I stood in silence; for bright in her locks was the daughter of many isles! Her eyes were two stars, looking forward through a rushing shower. The mariner marks them on high, and blesses the lovely beams. With morning we rushed to battle, to Tormul's resounding stream: the foe moved to the sound of Ton-thormod's bossy shield. From wing to wing the strife was mixed. I met Ton-thormod in fight. Wide flew his broken steel. I seized the king in war. I gave his hand, fast bound with thongs, to Mal-orchol, the giver of shells. Joy rose at the feast of Fuärfed, for the foe had failed. Ton-thormod turned his face away from Oina-morul of isles.
Son of Fingal, began Mal-orchol, not forgot shalt thou pass from me. A light shall dwell in thy ship, Oina-morul of slow-rolling eyes. She shall kindle gladness along thy mighty soul. Nor unheeded shall the maid move in Selma through the dwelling of kings.
In the hall I lay in night. Mine eyes were half closed in sleep. Soft music came to mine ear. It was like the rising breeze, that whirls at first the thistle's beard, then flies dark-shadowy over the grass. It was the maid of Fuärfed wild! she raised the nightly song; she knew that my soul was a stream that flowed at pleasant sounds. "Who looks," she said, "from his rock on ocean's closing mist? His long locks like the raven's wing, are wandering on the blast. — Stately are his steps in grief! The tears are in his eyes! His manly breast is heaving over his bursting soul! Retire, I am distant afar, a wanderer in lands unknown. Though the race of kings are around me, yet my soul is dark. Why have our fathers been foes, Ton-thormod, love of maids!"
"Soft voice of the streamy isle," I said, "why dost thou mourn by night? The race of daring Trenmor are not the dark in soul. Thou shalt not wander by streams unknown, blue-eyed Oina-morul! within this bosom is a voice: it comes not to other ears: it bids Ossian hear the hapless in their hour of woe. Retire, soft singer by night! Ton-thormod shall not mourn on his rock!"
With morning I loosed the king. I gave the long-haired maid. Mal-orchol heard my words in the midst of his echoing halls. "King of Fuärfed wild, why should Ton-thormod mourn? He is of the race of heroes, and a flame in war. Your fathers have been foes, but now their dim ghosts rejoice in death. They stretch their hands of mist to the same shell in Loda. Forget their rage, ye warriors! It was the cloud of other years."
Such were the deeds of Ossian, while yet his locks were young; though loveliness, with a robe of beams, clothed the daughter of many isles. We call back, of Lutha, the years that have rolled away!
<1> Con-cathlin, "mild beam of the wave." What star was so called of old is not easily ascertained. Some now distinguish the pole-star by that name.