Myths and Legends of the Celtic Race

Page: 105

“Eastward, breadthwise, over Erin straightway travell'd forth the twain,
Till with many days' wayfaring Murgen fainted by Loch Ein:
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‘Dear my brother, thou art weary: I for present aid am flown:
Thou for my returning tarry here beside this Standing Stone.’
“Shone the sunset red and solemn: Murgen,where he leant,observed
Down the corners of the column letter-strokes of Ogham carved.
‘'Tis, belike, a burial pillar,’ said he, ‘and these shallow lines
Hold some warrior's name of valour, could I rightly spell the signs.’
“Letter then by letter tracing, soft he breathed the sound of each;
Sound and sound then interlacing, lo, the signs took form of speech;
And with joy and wonder mainly thrilling, part a-thrill with fear,
Murgen read the legend plainly, ‘FERGUS SON OF ROY IS HERE.’ ”

Murgen then, though he knew the penalty, appealed to Fergus to pity a son's distress, and vowed, for the sake of the recovery of the “Tain,” to give his life, and abandon his kin and friends and the maiden he loves, so that his father might no more be shamed. But Fergus gave no sign, and Murgen tried another plea:

“Still he stirs not. Love of women thou regard'st not, Fergus, now:
Love of children, instincts human, care for these no more hast thou:
Wider comprehension, deeper insights to the dead belong:—
Since for Love thou wak'st not, Sleeper, yet awake for sake of Song.
“ ‘Thou, the first in rhythmic cadence dressing life's discordant tale,
Wars of chiefs and loves of maidens, gavest the Poem to the Gael;
Now they've lost their noblest measure, and in dark days hard at hand,
Song shall be the only treasure left them in their native land.’
“Fergus rose. A mist ascended with him, and a flash was seen
As of brazen sandals blended with a mantle's wafture green;
But so thick the cloud closed o'er him, Eimena, return'd at last,
Found not on the field before him but a mist-heap grey and vast.
“Thrice to pierce the hoar recesses faithful Eimena essay'd;
Thrice through foggy wildernesses back to open air he stray'd;
Till a deep voice through the vapours fill'd the twilight far and near
And the Night her starry tapers kindling, stoop'd from heaven to hear.
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“Seem'd as though the skiey Shepherd back to earth had cast the fleece
Envying gods of old caught upward from the darkening shrines of Greece;
So the white mists curl'd and glisten'd, to from heaven's expanses bare,
Stars enlarging lean'd and listen'd down the emptied depths of air.
“All night long by mists surrounded Murgen lay in vapoury bars;
All night long the deep voice sounded 'neath the keen, enlarging stars:
But when, on the orient verges, stars grew dim and mists retired,
Rising by the stone of Fergus, Murgen stood a man inspired.
“ ‘Back to Sanchan!—Father, hasten, ere the hour of power be past,
Ask not how obtain'd but listen to the lost lay found at last!’
‘Yea, these words have tramp of heroes in them; and the marching rhyme