The Death Of Osgar

A poem by Isabella Augusta

And after a while, at noonday, they saw Finn coming towards them, and what was left of the Sun-banner raised on a spear-shaft. All of them saluted Finn then, but he made no answer, and he came up to the hill where Osgar was. And when Osgar saw him coming he saluted him, and he said, "I have got my desire in death, Finn of the sharp arms." And Finn said, "It is worse the way you were, my son, on the day of the battle at Ben Edair, when the wild geese could swim on your breast, and it was my hand that gave you healing." "There can no healing be done for me now for ever," said Osgar, "since the King of Ireland put the spear of seven spells through my body."

And Finn said, "it is a pity it was not I myself fell in sunny scarce Gabhra, and you going east and west at the head of the Fenians." "And if it was yourself fell in the battle," said Osgar, "you would not hear me keening after you; for no man ever knew any heart in me," he said, "but a heart of twisted horn, and it covered with iron. But the howling of the dogs beside me," he said, "and the keening of the old fighting men and the crying of the women one after another, those are the things that are vexing me." And Finn said: "child of my child, calf of my calf, white and slender, it is a pity the way you are. And my heart is starting like a deer," he said, "and I am weak after you and after the Fenians of Ireland. And misfortune has followed us," he said, "and farewell now to battles and to a great name, and farewell to taking tributes; for every good thing I ever had is gone from me now," he said. And when Osgar heard those words he stretched out his hands, and his eyelids closed. And Finn turned away from the rest, and he cried tears down; and he never shed a tear through the whole length of his lifetime but only for Osgar and for Bran.

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