From Cathlin of Clutha, a poem
Selma’s king looked around. In his presence we rose in arms. But who should lift the shield? for all had claimed the war. The night came down; we strode in silence, each to his hill of ghosts, that spirits might descend in our dreams to mark us for the field. We struck the shield of the dead; we raised the hum of songs. We thrice called the ghosts of our fathers. We laid us down in dreams. Trenmor came, before mine eyes, the tall form of other years! His blue hosts were behind him in half-extinguished rows.—Scarce seen is their strife in mist, or their stretching forward to deaths. I listened, but no sound was there. The forms were empty wind!
I started from the dream of ghosts. On a sudden blast flew my whistling hair. Low-sounding, in the oak, is the departure of the dead. I took my shield from its bough. Onward came the rattling of steel.
From Cath-Loda, a poem
Fingal rushed, in all his arms, wide-bounding over Turthor’s stream, that sent its sullen roar, by night, through Gormal’s misty vale. A moonbeam glittered on a rock; in the midst stood a stately form; a form with floating locks, like Lochlin’s white-bosomed maids. Unequal are her steps, and short. She throws a broken song on wind. At times she tosses her white arms: for grief is dwelling in her soul.
“Tocul-torno, of aged locks!” she said, “where now are thy steps, by Lulan? Thou hast failed at thine own dark streams, father of Conban-cârgla! But I behold thee, chief of Lulan, sporting by Loda’s hall, when the dark-skirted night is rolled along the sky.—Thou sometimes hidest the moon with thy shield. I have seen her dim in heaven. Thou kindlest thy hair into meteors, and sailest along the night. Why am I forgot, in my cave, king of shaggy boars? Look from the hall of Loda on thy lonely daughter.”
“Who art thou,” said Fingal, “voice of night?”
She, trembling, turned away.
“Who art thou, in thy darkness?”
She shrunk into the cave.
From Lathmon, a poem
We rushed into Carmon’s bay. Ossian ascended the hill: he thrice struck his bossy shield. The rock of Morven replied: the bounding roes came forth. The foe was troubled in my presence: he collected his darkened host. I stood like a cloud on the hill, rejoicing in the arms of my youth.
The Poems of Ossian are a translation by Scottish poet James MacPherson of a Gaelic epic first published in 1760. The authenticity of the Poems has been a source of controversy since its publication; many claim MacPherson wrote them himself or radically adapted and embellished the original. Regardless, the Poems were hugely successful and influenced later writers, among them Goethe and Keats. They are among the earliest instances of English prose poetry and widely considered to be the genesis of the Romantic Period.