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[TRADITION does not inform us who was the author of the following poem nor is it known in what age it was composed. It is obviously to be inferred, however, from internal evidence, that it is of great antiquity. It is the only Gaelic lyric extant which professes to have been composed previous to the fifteenth century; for the reputed works of Ossian and other contemporary bards, and the imperfect poem entitled Mordu, all belong to the class of heroic poetry. Two translations have already appeared, one in measured prose, by John Clark, author of The Caledonian Bards, the other in rhyme, by Mrs Grant of Laggan. Both these were made from incorrect copies; and this, with the translators' ignorance of old Gaelic, led them to misunderstand the whole tenor of the poem, besides committing many minor mistakes. Clark further imitated Macpherson's Ossian, though the style of that celebrated work is very different from that of our Bard. The following version is literal-almost verbal-except in a few instances where the Gaelic idiom is so different, that a very close rendering would not convey the true sense of the original. The Gaelic consists throughout of quatrains in iambic dimeters, the third line rhyming with the first, and the fourth with the second.]
There are a small lake and stream in Lochaber which still bear this name.
† Gaelic, lon. This word is generally understood to mean an elk. It is now quite obsolete, and is found nowhere but in old poems.
The bard here addresses his son. The next three or four stanzas are obscure. Mr Clark translated from a different version. As the traditional account which he gives of this part may render it more intelligible, it is here subjoined.
"The bard, who was himself a chief, had an only son, who fell deeply in love with Lavinia, (Lavín ?) the beautiful daughter of Thalbar. Lavinia was drowned as she was bathing in the lake of Triga, (Treig?) Morlav, the bard's son, becoming despe rate, sailed for the Orkney Isles, hoping to fall in the wars of that prince, who was then at variance with the King of Norway. His valour and good conduct, however, gained him great fame; and after the Norwegians were defeated and expelled the Isles, the Prince, in consideration of his services and personal merit, offered Morlav his daughter in marriage, which he refused, and retired to a cave in a lonely isle, where his father heard that he still continued to mourn his lost Lavinia."
Oh! bear me near the sounding fall, That pours with murmurs from the rock;
Beside me lay my harp and shell, And the shield which shelter'd my sires in war.
Come thou mildly over the deep,
Where are the heroes that lived of
Who, sleepless, listen to their songs?
But oh! before my shade depart
Then, loved harp and shell, adieu!
SONG SUNG AT THE SYMPOSIUM IN THE SALOON, 3D OF JANUARY 1840.
ATTEND to my song, ye contributors all,
A bumper to him, whose illustrious name
But while he is our head, and we're each but a limb,
He could knock off in no time a Number himself;
It is true he is old; but 'tis easily seen,
Though his age may be gouty, it also is green :
Half so comely on Nestor as now upon Kit!
* Gaelic-Flad innis. The heaven of the old Scots. None of the Highland bards who lived subsequent to the universal prevalence of Christianity talk in this strain ; and therefore it is to be inferred that the author of this poem flourished previous to that period.
And though thus resembling the Pylian Sire,
The softness that dwelt in Andromache's breast,
The Crutch!-what a weapon in Christopher's hand!
Yet think not his heart without pity or ruth,
Or the Crutch ever raised save for virtue and truth;
To spare the submissive and punish the proud:
Ere Christopher came a new era to bring,
There was hardness of heart, or else thickness of skull,
P When riot and wrong seem'd to rule in our isle,
The times are much mended, but some things remain
For what with the Chartists, and what with the Church,
Then his patriot rage may he never remit,
Till he floors every foeman of order and Kit!
Now may Christopher live, till in number we see
And may Maga's adherents, the high and the low,
And here let our QUEEN put a close to my song-
A health to the youth whom her choice makes our own,
And replaced by true subjects and sages like Kit!