My arm was the support of the injured; the weak rested behind the lightning of my steel. Pasturage was not indeed wholly unknown; for we hear of dividing the herd in the case of a divorce; but the allusions to herds and to cattle are not many; and of agriculture we find no traces. We are to be prepared for the death of Malvina, which is related in the succeeding poem. He relates expeditions in which he had been engaged; he sings of battles in which he had fought and overcome; he had beheld the most illustrious scenes which that age could exhibit, both of heroism in war and magnificence in peace. My sigh arose with the morning; and my tears descended with night. I am indeed inclined to think, that the works of both poets are too much crowded with them. None fled on that day, till among his ships Heraudus fell.
He sets out with no formal proposition of his subject; but the subject naturally and easily unfolds itself; the poem opening in an animated manner, with the situation of Cuthullin, and the arrival of a scout, who informs him of Swaran’s landing. When we turn from the poetry of Lodbrog to that of Ossian, it is like passing from a savage desert into a fertile and cultivated country. She is therefore introduced in person; “she has heard a voice in her dream; She feels the fluttering of her soul: I have given to my children a mother who hath filled their hearts with valor. They come sometimes to the ear of rest, and raise their feeble voice. I know no passage more sublime in the writings of any uninspired author. Ossian, and are commonly among the favorite passages of all poets, it may be expected that I should be somewhat particular in my remarks upon them.
The Greeks fall into great distress, and beseech him to be reconciled to them. In such times as these, in a country where poetry had been so long cultivated, and so highly honored, is it any wonder that, among the race and succession of bards, one Homer should arise: They come sometimes to the ear of rest, and raise their feeble voice.
All these are marks so undoubted, and some of them, too so nice and delicate, of the most early times, as put the high antiquity of these poems out of question. It included a wider circle of. The hall of Selma brightened around. For as Ireland was undoubtedly peopled with Celtic tribes, the language, customs, and religion of both nations were the same.
They had been separated from one another by migration, only a few generations, as it should seem, before our poet’s age; and they still maintained a close and frequent intercourse.
But, says pomes Gothic poet, “When Rogvaldus was slain, for him mourned all the hawks of heaven,” as lamenting a benefactor who had so liberally supplied them with prey; “for boldly,” as he adds, “in the strife of swords did the breaker of helmets throw the spear of blood. Fingal’s speech to his troops on this occasion is full of noble sentiment; and, where thhe recommends his son to their care, extremely touching.
A Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian, the Son of Fingal – Hugh Blair – Google Books
But what Virgil has failed in, Ossian, to our astonishment, has successfully executed. A Grecian or a Roman poet would have introduced the virgins ceitical nymphs of the wood bewailing the untimely fall of a young hero.
The fox looked out from osslan windows; the rank grass of the wall waved round his head. The troubled ocean feels his steps as he strides from wave to wave.
Temora has perhaps less fire than the other epic poem; but in return it has more variety, more tenderness, and more magnificence.
It is considered as an advantage of the epic subject to be taken from a period so distant, as, by being involved in the darkness of tradition, may give license to fable. The exploits of Trathal, Trenmor, and the other ancestors of Fingal, are spoken of as familiarly known.
He mentions the death of two of his sons in battle; and the lamentation he describes as made for one of them is very singular. He hid the big tear with his locks, and rhe amidst his crowded soul. Swaran comes to invade Ireland; Cuthullin, the guardian of dissertationn young king, had applied for his assistance to Fingal, who reigned in the opposite coast of Scotland.
Whereas, in Ossian’s works, from beginning to end, all is consistent; no modern allusion drops from him; but everywhere the same face of rude nature appears; a country wholly uncultivated, thinly inhabited, and recently peopled. A snake dwells in the midst of my heart. The great objection made to Ossian’s imagery, is its uniformity, and the too frequent repetition of the same comparison.
Besides this merit which ancient poems have with philosophical observers of human nature, they have another with persons of taste. He came in silence to his hall, and took his father’s ossain I forbear transcribing the passage, as it must have drawn the attention of every one who has read the works of Ossian.
There cannot be the least doubt that the first object which strikes an epic poet, which fires his genius, and gives him any idea of his work, is the action or subject he is to celebrate.
A critical dissertation on the poems of Ossian, the son of Fingal.
His manner is so different from that of the poets to tue we are most accustomed; his style is so concise, and so much crowned with imagery; the mind is kept at such a stretch in accompanying the author; that an ordinary reader is at first apt to be dazzled and fatigued, rather than pleased.
For many circumstances of those times which we call barbarous are favorable to the poetic spirit.
Bring him back with joy; hereafter he may stand alone. The amazing fertility of Homer’s invention, is nowhere so much displayed as in the incidents of his battles, and in the little history pieces he gives of the persons slain.
How eagerly would all the sons of Aslauga now rush to war, did they ppems the distress of their father, whom a multitude of venomous tje tear! We see him only occasionally; we know much less of him than we do of Fingal; who, not only in this, epic poem, but in Temora, and throughout the rest of Ossian’s works, is presented in all that variety of lights, which give the full display of a character. As the sun rejoices from the cloud, over the tree his beams have raised, whilst it shakes its lonely head on the heath, so joyful is the king over Fillan.
Our attention is naturally drawn towards Fingal. It deserves remark, that, according to his account, the druidical institution first took rise in Britain, and passed from thence into Gaul; so that they who aspires to be thorough masters of that learning, were wont to resort to Britain.
Their songs are of other worlds.