Somewhat of this taciturnity may be also be remarked in Ossian. What degrees of friendship, love, and heroism may possibly be found to prevail in a rude state of society, no one can say. Homer knew no more of the laws of criticism than Ossian. But a true poet makes us imagine that we see it before our eyes; he catches the distinguishing features; he gives it the colors of life and reality; he places it in such a light that a painter could copy after him. He introduces a greater variety of incidents; he possesses a larger compass of ideas; has more diversity in his characters; and a much deeper knowledge of human nature. The poem is divided into twenty-nine stanzas, of ten lines each; and every stanza begins with these words, “Pugnavimus ensibus,” We have fought with our swords. In a rude age and country, though the events that happen be few, the undissipated mind broods over them more; they strike the imagination, and fire the passions, in a higher degree; and, of consequence, become happier materials to a poetical genius, than the same events when scattered through the wide circle of more varied action and cultivated life.
The attitude in which he is afterward placed, and the speech put into his mouth, are full of that solemn and awful sublimity, which suits the subject. Loud roared the swords in the plains of Lano. We are to be prepared for the death of Malvina, which is related in the succeeding poem. In one remarkable passage Ossian describes himself as living in a sort of classical age, enlightened by the memorials of former times, which were conveyed in the songs of bards; and points at a period of darkness and ignorance which lay beyond the reach of tradition. It is a blaze of lightning, which flashes and vanishes.
The story is conducted with no small art. Homer is more extended in his descriptions, and fills them up with a greater variety of circumstances. Ossian’s defect in this article, is plainly owing to the desert, uncultivated state of his country, which suggested to him few images beyond natural inanimate objects, in their rudest form.
A Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian, the Son of Fingal – Hugh Blair – Google Books
Some diversity will, no doubt, be occasioned by climate and genius. His ideas extended little further than to the objects he saw around him. The murder of the young prince Cormac, which was the cause of the war, being antecedent to the epic action, plems introduced with great propriety as an episode in the first book. I forbear transcribing the passage, as it must have drawn s attention of every one who has read the works of Ossian.
The gray dogs howl in their place. 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: But Ossian is concise and rapid in his speeches, as he is in every other thing.
The warm stream of wounds ran ossiam the ocean.
His robes are of the cloud of the hill. Hence so many lions, and tigers, and eagles, and serpents, which we meet, with in the similes of modern poets; as if these animals had acquired some right to a place in dissegtation comparisons for ever, because employed by ancient authors.
On both these occasions, the heroes, melted with tenderness, lament their not having it in their power to throw their arms round the ghost, “that we might,” say they, “in mutual embrace, enjoy the delight of grief. In one remarkable passage Ossian describes himself criticcal living in a sort of classical age, enlightened by the memorials of former times, which were conveyed in the songs of bards; and points criticl a period of darkness and ignorance which lay beyond the reach of tradition.
From all this, the Celtic tribes clearly appear to have been addicted in so high a degree to poetry, and to have made it so much their study from the earliest times, as may remove our wonder at meeting with a vein of higher poetical refinement among them, than was at first to have been expected among nations whom we are accustomed to call barbarous. Page 35 – A dark red stream osslan fire comes down from the hill.
Then shalt thou be long renowned, and behold the tombs of thy fathers. The goddesses invite me away; they whom Odin has sent to me from his hall. This, too, is in a great measure to be accounted for from the different situations in which they lived–partly personal, and partly national. He is truly too father of his people. The fox looked out from the windows; the rank grass of the wall waved round his head.
The shield of it warrior is like “the darkened moon when it moves a dun circle through the heavens. Criticcal events recorded are all serious and grave, the scenery throughout, wild and romantic. I am fast approaching to my end. Fillan could not boast of battles; at once he strode away. Aristotle in no more than that it is the business of a poet not to be a more annalist of facts, dissertatio to kf truth with beautiful, probable, and useful fictions; to copy nature as he himself ths it, like painters, who preserve a likeness, but exhibit their objects more grand and beautiful than they are in reality.
But nowhere does Ossian’s genius appear to greater advantage, than in Berrathon, which is reckoned the conclusion of his songs, ‘The last sound of the voice of Cona. His lamentation over her, her apotheosis, or ascent to the habitation of heroes, and the introduction to the story which follows from the mention which Critocal supposes the father of Malvina to make of him in the ball of Fingal, are all in the highest spirit of poetry.
On all important occasions they were the ambassadors between contending chiefs; and their persons were held sacred.
A second-rate writer discerns nothing new or peculiar in the object he means to describe. But the favorite figure in Temora, and the one most highly finished, is Fillan. To refuse the title of an epic poem to Fingal, because it is not, in every little particular, exactly conformable to the practice of Homer and Virgil, were the mere squeamishness and pedantry of osaian.
A critical dissertation on the poems of Ossian, the son of Fingal.
Such, for instance, is the scenery with which Temora opens, and the attitude in which Cairbar is there presented to us; the description of the young prince Cormac, in the same book; and the dissrtation of Balclutha, in Cartho.
He could dwell on the death of a favorite hero; but that of a private man seldom stopped his rapid course. The subject of Fingal is this: