James Macpherson (27 October 1736 – 17 February 1796 / Ruthven, Kingussie, Badenoch, Inverness-Shire, Scotland)
Comala, A Dramatic Poem
This poem. is valuable on account of the light it throws on the antiquity of Ossian's compositions. The Caracul mentioned here is the same with Caracalla, the son of Severus, who, in the year 211, commanded an expedition against the Caledonians. The variety of the measure shows that the poem was originally set to music, and perhaps presented before the chiefs upon solemn occasions. Tradition has handed down the story more complete than it is in the poem. "Comala, the daughter of Sarno, king of Inistore, or Orkney Islands, fell in love with Fingal, the son of Comhal, at a feast, to which her father had invited him [Fingal, B. III.] upon his return from Lochlin, after the death of Agandecca. Her passion was so violent, that she followed him, disguised like a youth, who wanted to be employed in his wars. She was soon discovered by Hidallan, the son of Lamor, one of Fingal's heroes, whose love she had slighted some time before. Her romantic passion and beauty recommended her so much to the king, that he had resolved to make her his wife; when news was brought him of Caracul's expedition. He marched to stop the progress of the enemy, and Comala attended him. He left her on a hill, within sight of Caracul's army, when he himself went to battle, having previously promised, if he survived, to return that night." The sequel of the story may be gathered from the poem itself.
DERSAGRENA }of Morni.
Dersagrena. The chase is over. No noise on Erdven but the torrent's roar! Daughter of Morni, come from Crona's banks. Lay down the bow and take the harp. Let the night come on with songs; let our joy be great on Ardven.
Melilcoma. Night comes on apace, thou blue-eyed maid! gray night grows dim along the plain, I saw a deer at Crona's stream; a mossy bank he seemed through the gloom, but soon he bounded away. A meteor played round his branching horns; the awful faces of other times looked from the clouds of Crona.
Dersagrena. These are the signs of Fingal's death. The king of shields is fallen! and Caracul prevails. Rise, Comala, from thy rock; daughter of Sarno, rise in tears! the youth of thy love is low; his ghost is on our hills.
Melilcoma. There Comala sits forlorn! two gray dogs near shake their rough ears, and catch the flying breeze. Her red cheek rests upon her arm, the mountain wind is in her hair. She turns her blue eyes towards the fields of his promise. Where art thou, O Fingal? The night is gathering around.
Comala. O Carun of the streams! why do I behold thy waters rolling in blood? Has the noise of the battle been heard; and sleeps the king of Morven? Rise, moon, thou daughter of the sky! look from between thy clouds; rise, that I may behold the gleam of his steel on the field of his promise. Or rather let the meteor, that lights our fathers through the night, come with its red beam, to show me the way to my fallen hero. Who will defend me from sorrow? Who from the love of Hidallan? Long shall Comala look before she can behold Fingal in the midst of his host; bright as the coming forth of the morning in the cloud of an early shower.
Hidallan. Dwell, thou mist of gloomy Crona, dwell on the path of the king! Hide his steps from mine eyes, let me remember my friend no more. The bands of battle are scattered, no crowding tread round the noise of his steel. O Carun! roll thy streams of blood, the chief of the people is low.
Comala. Who fell on Carun's sounding banks, son of the cloudy night? Was he white as the snow of Ardven? Blooming as the bow of the shower? Was his hair like the mist of the hill, soft and curling in the day of the sun? Was he like the thunder of heaven in battle? Fleet as the roe of the desert?
Hidallan. O that I might behold his love, fair-leaning from her rock! Her red eye dim in tears, her blushing cheek half hid in her locks! Blow, O gentle breeze! lift thou the heavy locks of the maid, that I may behold her white arm, her lovely cheek in her grief.
Comala. And is the son of Comhal fallen, chief of the mournful tale! The thunder rolls on the hill! The lightning flies on wings of fire! They frighten not Comala; for Fingal is low. Say, chief of the mournful tale, fell the breaker of the shields?
Hidallan. The nations are scattered on their hills! they shall hear the voice of the king no more.
Comala. Confusion pursue thee over thy plains! Ruin overtake thee, thou king of the world! Few be thy steps to thy grave; and let one virgin mourn thee! Let her be like Comala, tearful in the days of her youth! Why hast thou told me, Hidallan, that my hero fell? I might have hoped a little while his return; I might have thought I saw him on the distant rock: a tree might have deceived me with his appearance; the wind of the hill might have been the sound of his horn in mine ear. O that I were on the banks or Carun; that my tears might be warm on his cheek.
Hidallan. He lies not on the banks of Carun: on Ardven heroes raise his tomb. Look on them, O moon! from thy clouds; be thy beam bright on his breast, that Comala may behold him in the light of his armor.
Comala. Stop, ye sons of the grave, till I behold lily love! He left me at the chase alone. I knew not that he went to war. He said he would return with the night; the king of Morven is returned! Why didst thou not tell me that he would fall, O trembling dweller of the rock? Thou sawest him in the blood of his youth; but thou didst not tell Comala.
Melilcoma. What sound is that on Ardven? Who is that bright in the vale? Who comes like the strength of rivers, when their crowded waters glitter to the moon?
Comala. Who is it but the foe of Comala, the son of the king of the world! Ghost of Fingal! do thou, from thy cloud, direct Comala's bow. Let him fall like the hart of the desert. It is Fingal in the crowd of his ghosts. Why dost thou come, my love, to frighten and please my soul?
Fingal. Raise, ye bards, the song; raise the wars of the streamy Carun! Caracul has fled from our arms along the field of his pride. He sets far distant like a meteor, that encloses a spirit of night, when the winds drive it over the heath, and the dark woods are gleaming around. I heard a voice, or was it the breeze of my hills? Is it the huntress of Ardven, the white-handed daughter of Sarno? Look from the rocks, my love; let me hear the voice of Comala!
Comala. Take me to the cave of thy rest, O lovely son of death
Fingal. Come to the cave of my rest. The storm is past, the sun is on our fields. Come to the cave of my rest, huntress of echoing Ardven!
Comala. He is returned with his fame! I feel the right hand of his wars! But I must rest beside the rock till my soul returns from my fear! O let the harp be near! raise the song, ye daughters of Morna.
Dersagrena. Comala has slain three deer on Ardven, the fire ascends on the rock; go to the feast of Comala, king of the woody Morven!
Fingal. Raise, ye sons of song, the wars of the streamy Carun; that my white-handed maid may rejoice: while I behold the feast of my love.
Bards. Roll, streamy Carun, roll in joy, the sons of battle are fled! the steed is not seen on our fields; the wings of their pride spread on other lands. The sun will now rise in peace, and the shadows descend in joy. The voice of the chase will be heard; the shields hang in the hall. Our delight will be in the war of the ocean, our hands shall grow red in the blood of Lochlin. Roll, streamy Carun, roll in joy, the sons of battle fled!
Melilcoma. Descend, ye light mists from high! Ye moonbeams, lift her soul! Pale lies the maid at the rock! Comala is no more!
Fingal. Is the daughter of Sarno dead; the white-bosomed maid of my love? Meet me, Comala, on my heaths, when I sit alone at the streams of my hills.
Hidallan. Ceased the voice of the huntress of Ardven? why did I trouble the soul of the maid? When shall I see thee, with joy, in the chase of the dark-brown hinds? Fingal. Youth of the gloomy brow! No more shalt thou feast in my halls! Thou shalt not pursue my chase, my foes shall not fall by thy sword. Lead me to the place of her rest, that I may behold her beauty. Pale she lies as the rock, the cold winds lift her hair. Her bow-string sounds in the blast, her arrow was broken in her fall. Raise the praise of the daughter of Sarno! give her name to the winds of heaven.
Bards. See! meteors gleam around the maid! See! moonbeams lift her soul! Around her, from their clouds, bend the awful faces of her father: Sarna of the gloomy brow! the red-rolling eyes of Hidallan! When shall thy white hand arise? When shall thy voice be heard on our rocks? The maids shall seek thee on the heath, but they shall not find thee. Thou shalt come, at times, to their dreams, to settle peace in their soul. Thy voice shall remain in their ears, they shall think with joy on the dreams of their rest. Meteors gleam around the maid, and moonbeams lift her soul!
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