THE SONGS OF SELMA - James Macpherson Poems


Poems » james macpherson » the songs of selma


Address to the evening star. An apostrophe to Fingal and his times. Minona
sings before the king the song of the unfortunate Colma; and the bards exhibit
other specimens of their poetical talents; according to an annual custom
established by the monarchs of the ancient Caledonians.

Star of descending night! fair is thy light in the west! thou liftest thy
unshorn head from thy cloud: thy steps are stately on thy hill. What
dost thou behold in the plain? The stormy winds are laid. The murmur
of the torrent comes from afar. Roaring waves climb the distant rock.
The flies of evening are on their feeble wings; the hum of their course is
on the field. What dost thou behold, fair light? But thou dost smile
and depart. The waves come with joy around thee: they bathe thy
lovely hair. Farewell, thou silent beam! Let the light of Ossian's soul

  And it does arise in its strength! I behold my departed friends.
Their gathering is on Lora, as in the days of other years. Fingal comes
like a watry column of mist; his heroes are around: And see the bards
of song, grey-haired Ullin! stately Ryno! Alpin, with the tuneful voice!
the soft complaint of Minona! How are ye changed, my friends, since
the days of Selma's feast? when we contended, like gales of spring, as they
fly along the hill, and bend by turns the feebly-whistling grass.

  Minona came forth in her beauty; with down-cast look and tearful
eye. Her hair flew slowly on the blast, that rushed unfrequent from the
hill. The souls of the heroes were sad when she raised the tuneful voice.
Often had they seen the grave of Salgar, the dark dwelling of white-
bosomed Colma. Colma left alone on the hill, with all her voice of song!
Salgar promised to come: but the night descended around. Hear the
voice of Colma, when she sat alone on the hill!


  It is night; I am alone, forlorn on the hills of storms. The wind is
heard in the mountain. The torrent pours down the rock. No hut re-
ceives me from the rain; forlorn on the hill of winds!

  Rise, moon! from behind thy clouds. Stars of the night arise! Lead
me, some light, to the place, where my love rests from the chace alone! his
bow near him, unstrung: his dogs panting around him. But here I must
sit alone, by the rock of the mossy stream. The stream and the wind roar
aloud. I hear not the voice of my love! Why delays my Salgar, why the
chief of the hill, his promise? Here is the rock, and here the tree! here
is the roaring stream! Thou didst promise with night to be here. Ah!
whither is my Salgar gone? With thee I would fly, from my father; with
thee, from my brother of pride. Our race have long been foes; we are not
foes, O Salgar!

  Cease a little while, O wind! stream, be thou silent a while! let my
voice be heard around. Let my wanderer hear me! Salgar! it is Colma
who calls. Here is the tree, and the rock. Salgar, my love! I am here.
Why delayest thou thy coming? Lo! the calm moon comes forth. The
flood is bright in the vale. The rocks are grey on the steep. I see him
not on the brow. His dogs come not before him, with tidings of his near
approach. Here I must sit alone!

  Who lie on the heath beside me? Are they my love and my brother?
Speak to me, O my friends! To Colma they give no reply. Speak to me:
I am alone! My soul is tormented with fears! Ah! they are dead!
Their swords are red from the fight. O my brother! my brother! why
hast thou slain my Salgar? why, O Salgar! hast thou slain my brother?
Dear were ye both to me! what shall I say in your praise? Thou wert
fair on the hill among thousands! he was terrible in fight. Speak to me;
hear my voice; hear me, sons of my love! They are silent; silent for ever!
Cold, cold are their breasts of clay! Oh! from the rock on the hill; from
the top of the windy steep, speak, ye ghosts of the dead! speak, I will not
be afraid! Whither are ye gone to rest? In what cave of the hill shall I
find the departed? No feeble voice is on the gale: no answer half-drowned
in the storm!

  I sit in my grief! I wait for morning in my tears! Rear the tomb, ye
friends of the dead. Close it not till Colma come. My life flies away
like a dream: why should I stay behind? Here shall I rest with my
friends, by the stream of the sounding rock. When night comes on the
hill; when the loud winds arise; my ghost shall stand in the blast, and
mourn the death of my friends. The hunter shall hear from his booth.
He shall fear but love my voice! For sweet shall my voice be for my
friends: pleasant were her friends to Colma!

  Such was thy song, Minona, softly-blushing daughter of Torman.
Our tears descended for Colma, and our souls were sad! Ullin came with
his harp; he gave the song of Alpin. The voice of Alpin was pleasant:
the soul of Ryno was a beam of fire! But they had rested in the narrow
house: their voice had ceased in Selma. Ullin had returned, one day,
from the chace, before the heroes fell. He heard their strife on the hill;
their song was soft but sad! They mourned the fall of Morar, first of
mortal men! His soul was like the soul of Fingal; his sword like the
sword of Oscar. But he fell, and his father mourned: his sister's eyes
were full of tears. Minona's eyes were full of tears, the sister of carborne
Morar. She retired from the song of Ullin, like the moon in the west,
when she foresees the shower, and hides her fair head in a cloud. I
touched the harp, with Ullin; the song of mourning rose!