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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Colloquy of Ossian and St. Patrick

By Ossian and Ossianic Poetry

ST. PATRICK—Ossian, long and late thy sleep!

Rise up, and hear the psalm!

Thy strength is gone, thy swiftness flown,

That made thee known,—and thy fierce right arm!

Ossian—My swiftness and my strength are flown

Since Fionn’s swords are swept away!

And no holy priest, since his song has ceased,

Has ever pleased me with his lay.

St. Patrick—Thou hast not heard such hymns as mine,

Since the world began until this day!

But your dream is still of the host on the hill,

Though thou art ill and worn and gray!

Ossian—I used to join the host on the hill,

O Patrick of the sombre brow!

And it fits not thee to cast at me

My misery, as thou didst now.

I have heard songs more sweet than these

In praise of priests. At Letterlee

How long I heard the rare blackbird,

Or the Fiann Dord and its melody.

And the sweet song-thrush of Glenasgael,

And the rush of the boats upon the shore,

And the hounds full-cry, when the deer sweep by,

Than thy psalmody I love much more.

It must be admitted that in these strange ‘Colloquies,’ it is to Ossian that all the most lovely lyrical passages are allocated. He defeats again and again the solemn monitions of his saintly co-disputant, by the most tender and impassioned recall of the old delights of the land he so loved. Now it is the plaintive whistle of the sea-mews, now the bellow of the oxen and the low of the calves of Glend’-mhael, or the soft, swift gallop of the fawns in the forest glade, or the murmur of the falling mountain streams. Above all, the song of the blackbird haunts him; reviving in his old-man’s heart all that was sweetest in the youth and joyous springtime of the Fiann era, when it was at its most auspicious period. Ossian’s ode to the ‘Blackbird of Derrycarn,’ which is generally found in the Gaelic MSS., printed apart from the current Patrick-cum-Ossian text, is one of the most sweet and haunting of all his lyrical recountings of that joyous past. Fortunately, it is accompanied as printed first in the transactions of the Gaelic Society of Dublin by an excellent translation by William Leahy; which however, excellent as it is,—as excellent as any foreign tongue can make it seem,—yet can render no full account of the charm and melancholy sweetness and music of the Gaelic. We have adopted, with some slight modifications, the following version of Leahy’s.