Why openest thou afresh the spring of my...
Language: English 
Available translation(s): CAT
Why openest thou afresh the spring of my grief, 
O son of Alpin, 
inquiring how Oscar fell? 
My eyes are blind with tears;
but memory beams on my heart.
How can I relate the mournful death
of the head of the people!
Chief of the warriors, Oscar, my son, 
shall I see thee no more!
He fell as the moon in a storm; 
as the sun from the midst of his course,
when clouds rise from the waste of the waves, 
when the blackness of the storm
inwraps the rocks of Ardannider. 
I, like an ancient oak on Morven, 
I moulder alone in my place. 
The blast hath lopped my branches away;
and I tremble at the wings of the north.
Chief of the warriors, Oscar, my son! 
Shall I see thee no more!

But, son of Alpin, the hero fell not harmless 
as the grass of the field; 
the blood of the mighty was on his sword, 
and he travelled with death through the ranks of their pride. 
But Oscar, thou son of Caruth, 
thou hast fallen low! 
No enemy fell by thy hand. 
Thy spear was stained with the blood of thy friend.

Dermid and Oscar were one: 
They reaped the battle together.
Their friendship was strong as their steel; 
and death walked between them to the field.
They came on the foe like two rocks
falling from the brows of Ardven.
Their swords were stained with the blood of the valiant:
warriors fainted at their names. 
Who was equal to Oscar, but Dermid? 
and who to Dermid, but Oscar!

They killed mighty Dargo in the field;
Dargo who never fled in war. 
His daughter was fair as the morn; 
mild as the beam of night.
Her eyes, like two stars in a shower: 
her breath, the gale of spring: 
her breasts as the new-fallen snow 
floating on the moving heath.
The warriors saw her, and loved;
their souls were fixed on the maid. 
Each loved her as his fame; 
each must possess her or die. 
But her soul was fixed on Oscar; 
the son of Caruth was the youth of her love. 
She forgot the blood of her father; 
and loved the hand that slew him.

Son of Caruth, said Dermid,
I love; O Oscar, I love this maid. 
But her soul cleaveth unto thee; 
and nothing can heal Dermid. 
Here, pierce this bosom, Oscar; 
relieve me, my friend, with thy sword.

My sword, son of Diaran, shall never 
be stained with the blood of Dermid.
Who then is worthy to slay me,
O Oscar, son of Caruth?
Let not my life pass away unknown.
Let none but Oscar slay me. 
Send me with honour to the grave, 
and let my death be renowned.

Dermid, make use of thy sword,
son of Diaran, wield thy steel. 
Would that I fell with thee! 
That my death came from the hand of Dermid!
They fought by the brook of the mountain,
by the streams of Branno. 
Blood tinged the running water,
and curdled round the mossy stones.
The stately Dermid fell;
he fell, and smiled in death.

And fallest thou, son of Diaran,
fallest thou by Oscar's hand! 
Dermid who never yielded in war,
thus do I see thee fall!
He went, and returned to the maid of his love; 
he returned, but she perceived his grief.

Why that gloom, son of Caruth? 
what shades thy mighty soul?
Though once renowned for the bow, O maid, 
I have lost my fame. 
Fixed on the tree by the brook of the hill,
is the shield of the valiant Gormur,
whom I slew in battle.
I have wasted the day in vain, 
nor could my arrow pierce it.
Let me try, son of Caruth,
the skill of Dargo's daughter.
My hands were taught the bow: 
my father delighted in my skill.

She went. He stood behind the shield. 
Her arrow flew, and pierced his breast.
"Blessed be that hand of snow;
and blessed that bow of yew!
Who but the daughter of Dargo
was worthy to slay the son of Caruth?
Lay me in the earth, my fair one;
Lay me by the side of Dermid."

Oscar! the maid replied,
I have the soul of the mighty Dargo. 
Well pleased I can meet death. 
My sorrow I can end.
She pierced her white bosom with the steel. 
She fell; she trembled, and died.

By the brook of the hill their graves are laid; 
a birch's unequal shade covers their tomb.
Often on their green earthen tombs
the branchy sons of the mountain feed,
When mid-day is all in flames, 
and silence over all the hills.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with The Works of Ossian the Son of Fingal. In two volumes. Translated from the Galic Language by James Macpherson. Vol. I. The Third Edition. London: Printed for T. Becket and P. A. Dehondt, MDCCLXV, pages 266-268.

Imitated by Arnault in Oscar et Dermide


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Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , subtitle: "La mort d'Oscar", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2003-11-06
Line count: 117
Word count: 774