WHY openest thou afresh the spring of my grief, O son of Alpin, inquiring how Oscur 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! Prince of the warriours, Oscur 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. Prince of the warriors, Oscur my son! shall I see thee no more!


DERMID and Oscur 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: warriours fainted at their names. Who was a match for Oscur, but Dermid? and who for Dermid, but Oscur?

THEY killed, mighty Dargo in the field; Dargo before invincible. 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 warriours 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[Page 33] on Oscur; my son was the youth of her love. She forgot the blood of her father; and loved the hand that slew him.

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

MY sword, son of Morny, shall never be stained with the blood of Dermid.

WHO then is worthy to slay me, O Oscur son of Oscian? Let not my life pass away unknown. Let none but Oscur slay me. Send me with honour to the grave, and let my death be renowned.

[Page 34]

DERMID, make use of thy sword; son of Morny, wield thy steel. Would that I fell with thee! that my death came from the hand of Dermid!

THEY sought by the brook of the mountain; by the streams of Branno. Blood tinged the silvery stream, and crudled round the mossy stones. Dermid the graceful fell; fell, and smiled in death.

AND fallest thou, son of Morny; fallest thou by Oscur's hand! Dermid invincible in war, thus do I see thee fall! He went, and returned to the maid whom he loved; returned, but she perceived his grief.

WHY that gloom, son of Oscian? what shades thy mighty soul?

THOUGH once renowned for the bow,[Page 35] O maid, I have lost my same. Fixed on a tree by the brook of the hill, is the shield of Gormur the brave, whom in battle I slew. I have wasted the day in vain, nor could my arrow pierce it.

LET me try, son of Oscian, 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* Nothing was held by the ancient Highlanders more essential to their glory, than to die by the hand of some person worthy or renowned. This was the occasion of Oscur's contriving to be slain by his mistress, now that he was weary of life. In those early times suicide was utterly unknown among that people, and no traces of it are found in the old poetry. Whence the translator suspects the account that follows of the daughter of Dargo killing herself, to be the interpolation of some later Bard..

[Page 36]

BLESSED be that hand of snow; and blessed thy bow of yew! I fall resolved on death: and who but the daughter of Dargo was worthy to slay me? Lay me in the earth, my fair-one; lay me by the side of Dermid.

OSCUR! I have the blood, the soul of the mighty Dargo. Well pleased I can meet death. My sorrow I can end thus. She pierced her white bosom with 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 is over all the hills.


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Title (in Source Edition): [FRAGMENT] VII.
Genres: prose poem; imitation; translation; paraphrase; fragment

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Macpherson, James, 1736-1796 Fragments of ancient poetry, collected in the Highlands of Scotland, and translated from the Galic or Erse language. Edinburgh: printed for G. Hamilton and J. Balfour, 1760, pp. []-36. 70p.; 8⁰. (ESTC T83707; OTA K068251.000) (Page images digitized by National Library of Scotland — licensed under a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 UK: Scotland license.)

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The text has been typographically modernized, but without any silent modernization of spelling, capitalization, or punctuation. The source of the text is given and all editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. Based on the electronic text originally produced by the TCP project, this ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.