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Ossian and Malvina, by Johann Peter KrafftIn Macpherson published the English-language text Fragments of ancient poetry, collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Gaelic or Erse language.
The name Fingal or Fionnghall means "white stranger". Macpherson published these translations during the next few years, culminating in a collected edition, The Works of Ossian, in The most famous of these Ossianic poems was Fingal, written in The supposed original poems are translated into poetic prose, with short and simple sentences.
The mood is epicbut there is no single narrative, although the same characters reappear. The main characters are Ossian himself, relating the stories when old and blind, his father Fingal very loosely based on the Irish hero Fionn mac Cumhaillhis dead son Oscar also with an Irish counterpartand Oscar's lover Malvina like Fiona a name invented by Macphersonwho looks after Ossian in his old age.
Though the stories "are of endless battles and unhappy loves", the enemies and causes of strife are given little explanation and context. There is very little information given on the religion, culture or society of the characters, and buildings are hardly mentioned.
The landscape "is more real than the people who inhabit it. Drowned in eternal mist, illuminated by a decrepit sun or by emphemeral meteors, it is a world of greyness. Napoleon and Diderot were great admirers, and Voltaire wrote parodies of them. Many writers were influenced by the works, including Walter Scottand painters and composers chose Ossianic subjects.
One poem was translated into French inand by the whole corpus. Complete Danish translations were made inand Swedish ones in — In Scandinavia and Germany the Celtic nature of the setting was ignored or not understood, and Ossian was regarded as a Nordic or Germanic figure who became a symbol for nationalist aspirations.
Melchiore Cesarotti was an Italian clergyman whose translation into Italian is said by many to improve on the original, and was a tireless promoter of the poems, in Vienna and Warsaw as well as Italy.
It was his translation that Napoleon especially admired,  and among others it influenced Ugo Foscolo who was Cesarotti's pupil in the University of Padua. The most influential Russian version of Ossian was the translation by Ermil Kostrovwho based his work on Pierre Le Tourneur's translation from the original.
The poems also exerted an influence on the burgeoning of Romantic musicand Franz Schubert in particular composed Lieder setting many of Ossian's poems.
His friend Niels Gade devoted his first published work, the concert overture Efterklange af Ossian "Echoes of Ossian" written into the same subject. He went so far as to write a poem entitled Homer and Ossian, of which the first verse reads: Oh where are you Hellenes and Celts?
Already you have vanished, like Two cities drowning In the waters of the deep. Only the tips of towers stand out from the water, Two tips of towers: Likewise, William Wordsworth was evidently positively impressed by Macpherson's text when he wrote his poem Glen-Almain, the Narrow Glen: He sang of battles, and the breath Of stormy war, and violent death; And should, methinks, when all was past, Have rightfully be laid at last Where rocks were rudely heap'd, and rent As by a spirit turbulent; Where sights were rough, and sounds were wild, And everything unreconciled; In some complaining dim retreat, For fear and melancholy meet; But this is calm; there cannot be A more entire tranquility.
Does then the bard sleep here indeed? Or is it but a groundless creed? A convent, even a hermit's cell, Would break the silence of this Dell: It is not quiet, is not ease; But something deeper far than these: The separation that is here Is of the grave; and of austere Yet happy feelings of the dead: And therefore, was it rightly said That Ossian, last of all his race!
Lies buried in this lonely place. Macpherson promoted a Scottish origin for the material, and was hotly opposed by Irish historians who felt that their heritage was being appropriated.
However, both Scotland and Ireland shared a common Gaelic culture during the period in which the poems are set, and some Fenian literature common in both countries was composed in Scotland.
Samuel JohnsonEnglish author, critic, and biographer, was convinced that Macpherson was "a mountebanka liar, and a fraud, and that the poems were forgeries". Upon being asked, "But Doctor Johnson, do you really believe that any man today could write such poetry?
In reply, it was proved that the Advocates' library at Edinburgh contained Gaelic manuscripts years old, and one of even greater antiquity. The work also had a timely resonance for those swept away by the emerging Romantic movement and the theory of the " noble savage ", and it echoed the popularity of Burke's seminal A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful Mac Pherson's translation of Fingal and Temora that he added to the second edition of his seminal history.
Ossian's Cave at The Hermitage in DunkeldScotland Faced with the controversy, the Committee of the Highland Society enquired after the authenticity of Macpherson's supposed original.Wordle is a toy for generating “word clouds” from text that you provide.
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