The First Book of the Georgics.
The poet, in the beginning of this book, propounds the general design of each
georgic: and after a solemn invocation of all the gods who are any way related
to his subject, he addresses himself in particu?lar to augustus, whom he
complements with divinity; and after strikes into his business. he shews the
different kinds of Tillage proper to different soils, traces out the original of
agriculture, gives a catalogue of the husbandman's Tools, specifies the
employ?ments pecultar to each season, describes the changes of the weather,
with the signs in heaven and earth that fore-bode them. instan?ces many of the
prodigies that happened near the time of julius Caesar's death. and shuts up all
with a supplication to the gods for the safety of augustus, and the prefervation
What makes a plenteous harvest, when to turn
The fruitful soil, and when to sowe the corn;
The care of sheep, of oxen, and of kine;
And how to raise on elms the teeming vine:
The birth and genius of the frugal bee, 5
I sing, mecaenas, and I sing to thee.
Ye deities! who fields and plains protect,
Who rule the seasons, and the year direct;
Bacchus and fostering ceres, powers divine,
Who gave us corn for mast, for water wine. 10
Ye fawns, propitious to the rural swains,
Ye nymphs that haunt the mountains and the plains,
Join in my work, and to my numbers bring
Your needful succour, for your gifts I sing.
And thou, whose Trident struck the teeming earth, 15
And made a passage for the coursers birth.
And thou, for whom the caean shore sustains
Thy milky herds, that graze the flowery plains.
And thou, the shepherds tutelary god,
Leave, for a while, o pan! thy loved abode: 20
And, if arcadian fleeces be thy care,
From fields and mountains to my song repair.
Inventor, pallas, of the fatening oil,
Thou founder of the plough and plough-man's Toil;
And thou, whose hands the shrowd-like cypress rear; 25
Come all ye gods and goddesses, that wear
The rural honours, and increase the year.
You, who supply the ground with seeds of grain;
And you, who swell those seeds with kindly rain:
And chiefly thou, whose undetermined state 30
Is yet the business of the gods debate:
Whether in after Times to be declared
The patron of the world, and rome's peculiar guard,
Or o'er the fruits and seasons to preside,
And the round circuit of the year to guide. 35
Powerful of blessings, which thou strew'st around,
And with thy goddess mother's myrtle crowned.
Or wilt thou, Caesar, choose the watry reign,
To smooth the surges, and correct the main?
Then mariners, in storms, to thee shall pray, 40
Even utmost Thule shall thy power obey;
And Neptune shall resign the fasces of the sea.
The watery virgins for thy bed shall strive,
And Tethys all her waves in dowry give.
Or wilt thou bless our summers with thy rays, 45
And seated near the ballance, poise the days:
Where in the void of heaven a space is free,
Betwixt the scorpion and the maid for thee.
The scorpion ready to receive thy laws,
Yields half his region, and contracts his claws. 50
Whatever part of heaven thou shalt obtain,
For let not hell presume of such a reign;
Nor let so dire a Thirst of empire move
Thy mind, to leave thy kindred gods above.
Tho' Greece admires elysium's blest retreat, 55
Tho' proserpine affects her silent seat,
And importuned by ceres to remove,
Prefers the fields below to those above.
But thou, propitious Caesar, guide my course,
And to my bold endeavours add thy force. 60
Pity the poetos and the ploughman's cares,
Interest thy greatness in our mean affairs,
And use thy self betimes to hear our prayers.
While yet the spring is young, while earth unbinds
Her frozen bosom to the western winds; 65
While mountain snows dissolve against the sun,
And streams, yet new, from precipices run.
Even in this early dawning of the year,
Produce the plough, and yoke the sturdy steer,
And goad him till he groans beneath his Toil, 70
'Till the bright share is buryed in the soil.
That crop rewards the greedy peasantos pains,
Which twice the sun, and twice the cold sustains,
And bursts the crowded barns, with more than promised gains.
But eere we stir the yet unbroken ground, 75
The various course of seasons must be found;
The weather, and the setting of the winds,
The culture suiting to the several kinds
Of seeds and plants; and what will thrive and rise,
And what the genius of the soil denies. 80
This ground with Bacchus, that with ceres suits:
That other loads the trees with happy fruits.
A fourth with grass, unbidden, decks the ground:
Thus Tmolus is with yellow saffron crowned:
India, black ebon and white ivory bears: 85
And soft Idume weeps her oderous Tears.
Thus pontus sends her beaver stones from far;
And naked spanyards temper steel for war.
Epirus for the elean chariot breeds,
(in hopes of palms,) a race of running steeds. 90
This is the origenal contract; these the laws
Imposed by nature, and by nature's cause,
On sundry places, when deucalion hurled
His mother's entrails on the desert world:
Whence men, a hard laborious kind, were born. 95
Then borrow part of winter for thy corn;
And early with thy Team the gleeb in furrows turn.
That while the Turf lies open, and unbound,
Succeeding suns may bake the mellow ground.
But if the soil be barren, only scar 100
The surface, and but lightly print the share,
When cold arcturus rises with the sun:
Lest wicked weeds the corn shoued over-run
In watry soils; or lest the barren sand
Shoued suck the moisture from the thirsty land. 105
Both these unhappy soils the swain forbears,
And keeps a sabbath of alternate years:
That the spent earth may gather heart again;
And, bettered by cessation, bear the grain.
At least where vetches, pulse, and Tares have stood, 110
And stalks of lupines grew (a stubborn wood:)
the ensuing season, in return, may bear
The bearded product of the golden year.
For flax and oats will burn the tender field,
And sleepy poppies harmful harvests yield. 115
But sweet vicissitudes of rest and Toil
Make easy labour, and renew the soil.
Yet sprinkle sordid ashes all around,
And load with fatening dung thy fallow ground.
Thus change of seeds for meagre soils is best; 120
And earth manured, not idle, though at rest.
Long practice has a sure improvement found,
With kindled fires to burn the barren ground;
When the light stubble, to the flames resigned,
Is driven along, and crackles in the wind. 125
Whether from hence the hollow womb of earth
Is warmed with secret strength for better birth,
Or when the latent vice is cured by fire,
Redundant humours through the pores expire;
Or that the warmth distends the chinks, and makes 130
New breathings, whence new nourishment she takes;
Or that the heat the gaping ground constrains,
New knits the surface, and new strings the veins;
Lest sokeing showers shoued pierce her secret seat,
Or freezing Boreas chill her genial heat; 135
Or scorching suns too violently beat.
Nor is the profit small, the peasant makes;
Who smooths with harrows, or who pounds with rakes
The crumbling clods: nor ceres from on high
Regards his labours with a grudging eye; 140
Nor his, who plows across the furrowed grounds,
And on the back of earth inflicts new wounds:
For he with frequent exercise commands
the unwilling soil, and tames the stubborn lands.
Ye swains, invoke the powers who rule the sky, 145
For a moist summer, and a winter dry:
For winter drout rewards the peasantos pain,
And broods indulgent on the buryed grain.
Hence mysia boasts her harvests, and the tops
Of gargarus admire their happy crops. 150
When first the soil receives the fruitful seed,
Make no delay, but cover it with speed:
So fenced from cold; the plyant furrows break,
Before the surly clod resists the rake.
And call the floods from high, to rush amain 155
With pregnant streams, to swell the teeming grain.
Then when the fiery suns too fiercely play,
And shrivelled herbs on withering stems decay,
The wary ploughman, on the mountain's brow,
Undams his watry stores, huge Torrents flow; 160
And, rattling down the rocks, large moisture yield,
Tempering the thirsty fever of the field.
And lest the stem, too feeble for the freight,
Shoued scarce sustain the head's unweildy weight,
Sends in his feeding flocks betimes toinvade 165
The rising bulk of the luxuriant blade;
Eere yet theaspiring off-spring of the grain
o'ertops the ridges of the furrowed plain:
And drains the standing waters, when they yield
Too large a beverage to the drunken field. 170
But most in autumn, and the showery spring,
When dubious months uncertain weather bring;
When fountains open, when impetuous rain
Swells hasty brooks, and pours upon the plain;
When earth with slime and mud is covered o'er, 175
Or hollow places spue their watery store.
Nor yet the ploughman, nor the labering steer,
Sustain alone the hazards of the year:
But glutton geese, and the strymonian crane,
With foreign Troops, invade the tender grain: 180
And towering weeds malignant shadows yield;
And spreading succery chokes the rising field.
The sire of gods and men, with hard decrees,
Forbids our plenty to be bought with ease:
And wills that mortal men, inured to toil, 185
Shoued exercise, with pains, the grudging soil.
Himself invented first the shining share,
And whetted humane industry by care:
Himself did handy-crafts and arts ordain;
Nor suffered sloath to rust his active reign. 190
Eere this, no peasant vexed the peaceful ground;
Which only Turfs and greens for altars found:
No fences parted fields, nor marks nor bounds
Distinguished acres of litigious grounds:
But all was common, and the fruitful earth 195
Was free to give her unexacted birth.
Jove added venom to the viper's brood,
And swelled, with raging storms, the peaceful flood:
Commissioned hungry wolves to infest the fold,
And shook from okeen leaves the liquid gold. 200
Removed from humane reach the chearful fire,
And from the rivers bade the wine retire:
That studious need might useful arts explore;
From furrowed fields to reap the foodful store:
And force the veins of clashing flints to expire 205
The lurking seeds of their coelestial fire.
Then first on seas the hollowed alder swam;
Then sailers quartered heaven, and found a name
for every fixed and every wandring star:
The pleiads, hyads, and the northern car. 210
Then Toils for beasts, and lime for birds were found,
And deep-mouth dogs did forrest walks surround:
And casting nets were spread in shallow brooks,
Drags in the deep, and baits were hung on hooks.
Then saws were toothed, and sounding axes made; 215
(For wedges first did yielding wood invade.)
And various arts in order did succeed,
(What cannot endless labour urged by need?)
First ceres taught, the ground with grain to sow,
And armed with iron shares the crooked plough; 220
When now Dodonian okes no more supplyed
Their mast, and trees their forrest-fruit denyed.
Soon was his labour doubled to the swain,
And blasting mildews blackned all his grain.
Tough Thistles chokeed the fields, and killed the corn, 225
And an unthrifty crop of weeds was born.
Then burrs and brambles, an unbidden crew
Of graceless guests, the unhappy field subdue:
And oats unblest, and darnel domineers,
And shoots its head above the shining ears. 230
So that unless the land with daily care
Is exercised, and with an iron war,
Of rakes and harrows, the proud foes expelled,
And birds with clamours frighted from the field;
Unless the boughs are lopped that shade the plain, 235
And heaven invoked with vows for fruitful rain,
On other crops you may with envy look,
And shake for food the long abandoned oke.
Nor must we pass untold what arms they wield,
Who labour Tillage and the furrowed field: 240
Without whose aid the ground her corn denys,
And nothing can be sown, and nothing rise.
The crooked plough, the share, the towr'ing height
Of waggons, and the cartos unweildy weight;
The sled, the Tumbril, hurdles and the flail, 245
The fan of Bacchus, with the flying sail.
These all must be prepared, if plowmen hope
The promised blessing of a bounteous crop.
Young elms with early force in copses bow,
Fit for the figure of the crooked plough. 250
Of eight foot long a fastned beam prepare,
On either side the head produce an ear,
And sink a socket for the shining share.
Of beech the plough-tail, and the bending yoke;
Or softer linden hardened in the smoke. 255
I could be long in precepts, but I fear
So mean a subject might offend your ear.
Delve of convenient depth your thrashing floor;
With tempered clay, then fill and face it o'er:
And let the weighty rowler run the round, 260
To smooth the surface of the unequal ground;
Lest cracked with summer heats the flooring flies,
Or sinks, and through the crannies weeds arise.
For sundry foes the rural realm surround:
The field mouse builds her garner under ground, 265
For gathered grain the blind laborious mole,
In winding mazes works her hidden hole.
In hollow caverns vermine make abode,
The hissing serpent, and the swelling Toad:
The corn devouring weezel here abides, 270
And the wise ant her wintry store provides.
Mark well the flowring almonds in the wood;
If oderous blooms the bearing branches load,
The glebe will answer to the sylvan reign,
Great heats will follow, and large crops of grain. 275
But if a wood of leaves o'er-shade the tree,
Such and so barren will thy harvest be:
In vain the hind shall vex the thrashing floor,
For empty chaff and straw will be thy store.
Some steep their seed, and some in cauldrons boil 280
With vigorous nitre, and with lees of oil,
o'er gentle fires; the exuberant juice to drain,
And swell the flattering husks with fruitful grain.
Yet is not the success for years assured,
Tho chosen is the seed, and fully cured; 285
Unless the peasant, with his annual pain,
Renews his choice, and culls the largest grain.
Thus all below, whether by nature's curse,
Or fates decree, degenerate still to worse.
So the boats brawny crew the current stem, 290
And, slow advancing, struggle with the stream:
But if they slack their hands, or cease to strive,
Then down the flood with headlong haste they drive.
Nor must the ploughman less observe the skies,
When the kidds, dragon, and arcturus rise, 295
Than saylors homeward bent, who cut their way
through helle's stormy streights, and oyster-breeding sea.
But when astrea's ballance, hung on high,
Betwixt the nights and days divides the sky,
Then yoke your oxen, sow your winter grain; 300
'Till cold december comes with driving rain.
Lineseed and fruitful poppy bury warm,
In a dry season, and prevent the storm.
Sow beans and clover in a rotten soil,
And millet rising from your annual Toil; 305
When with his golden horns, in full cariere,
The bull beats down the barriers of the year;
And argo and the dog forsake the northern sphere.
But if your care to wheat alone extend,
Let maja with her sisters first descend, 310
And the bright gnosian diadem downward bend:
Before you trust in earth your future hope;
Or else expect a listless lazy crop.
Some swains have sown before, but most have found
A husky harvest, from the grudging ground. 315
Vile vetches woued you sow, or lentils lean,
The growth of egypt, or the kidney-bean?
Begin when the slow waggoner descends,
Nor cease your sowing till mid-winter ends:
For this, through twelve bright signs apollo guides 320
The year, and earth in several climes divides.
Five girdles bind the skies, the torrid Zone
Glows with the passing and repassing sun.
Far on the right and left, the extreams of heaven,
To frosts and snows, and bitter blasts are given. 325
Betwixt the midst and these, the gods assigned
Two habitable seats for humane kind:
And cross their limits cut a sloping way,
Which the twelve signs in beauteous order sway.
Two poles turn round the globe; one seen to rise 330
o'er Scythian hills, and one in lybian skies.
The first sublime in heaven, the last is whirled
Below the regions of the nether world.
Around our pole the spiry dragon glides,
And like a winding stream the bears divides; 335
The less and greater, who by fates decree
Abhor to dive beneath the southern sea:
There, as they say, perpetual night is found
In silence brooding on the unhappy ground:
Or when aurora leaves our northern sphere, 340
She lights the downward heaven, and rises there.
And when on us she breaths the living light,
Red vesper kindles there the Tapers of the night.
From hence uncertain seasons we may know;
And when to reap the grain, and when to sow: 345
Or when to fell the furzes, when 'tis meet
To spread the flying canvass for the fleet.
Observe what stars arise or disappear;
And the four quarters of the rolling year.
But when cold weather and continued rain, 350
The labering husband in his house restrain:
Let him forecast his work with timely care,
Which else is huddled, when the skies are fair:
Then let him mark the sheep, or whet the shining share.
Or hollow trees for boats, or number o'er 355
His sacks, or measure his increasing store:
Or sharpen stakes, or head the forks, or twine
The sallow Twigs to tye the stragling vine:
Or wicker baskets weave, or aire the corn,
Or grinded grain betwixt two marbles turn. 360
No laws, divine or human, can restrain
From necessary works, the labering swain.
Even holy-days and feasts permission yield,
To float the meadows, or to fence the field,
To fire the brambles, snare the birds, and steep 365
In wholsom water-falls the woolly sheep.
And oft the drudging ass is driven, with Toil,
To neighbering Towns with apples and with oil:
Returning, late and laden, home with gain
Of bartered pitch, and hand-mills for the grain. 370
The lucky days, in each revolving moon,
For labour choose: The fifth be sure to shun;
That gave the furies and pale pluto birth,
And armed, against the skies, the sons of earth.
With mountains piled on mountains, thrice they strove 375
To scale the steepy battlements of Jove:
And thrice his lightning and red Thunder played,
And their demolished works in ruin laid.
The seventh is, next the Tenth, the best to joyn
Young oxen to the yoke, and plant the vine. 380
Then weavers stretch your stays upon the weft:
The ninth is good for Travel, bad for Theft.
Some works in dead of night are better done;
Or when the morning dew prevents the sun.
Parched meads and stubble mow, by phoebe's light; 385
Which both rechoir the coolness of the night:
For moisture then abounds, and pearly rains
Descend in silence to refresh the plains.
The wife and husband equally conspire,
To work by night, and rake the winter fire: 390
He sharpens Torches in the glimering room,
She shoots the flying shuttle through the loom:
Or boils in kettles must of wine, and skins
With leaves, the dregs that overflow the brims.
And till the watchful cock awakes the day, 395
She sings to drive the tedious hours away.
But in warm weather, when the skies are clear,
By daylight reap the product of the year:
And in the sun your golden grain display,
And thrash it out, and winnow it by day. 400
Plough naked, swain, and naked sow the land,
For lazy winter numbs the labering hand.
In genial winter, swains enjoy their store,
Forget their hardships, and recruit for more.
The farmer to full bowls invites his friends, 405
And what he got with pains, with pleasure spends.
So saylors, when escaped from stormy seas,
First crown their vessels, then indulge their ease.
Yet thatos the proper Time to thrash the wood
For mast of oke, your father's homely food. 410
To gather laurel-berries, and the spoil
Of bloody myrtles, and to press your oil.
For stalking cranes to set the guileful snare,
to inclose the stags in Toils, and hunt the hare.
With balearick slings, or gnossian bow, 415
To persecute from far the flying doe.
Then, when the fleecy skies new cloath the wood,
And cakes of rustling ice come rolling down the flood.
Now sing we stormy stars, when autumn weighs
The year, and adds to nights, and shortens days; 420
And suns declining shine with feeble rays:
What cares must then attend the toiling swain;
Or when the lowering spring, with lavish rain,
Beats down the slender stem and bearded grain:
While yet the head is green, or lightly swelled 425
With milky-moisture, over-looks the field.
Even when the farmer, now secure of fear,
Sends in the swains to spoil the finished year:
Even while the reaper fills his greedy hands,
And binds the golden sheafs in brittle bands: 430
Oft have I seen a sudden storm arise,
From all the warring winds that sweep the skies:
The heavy harvest from the root is torn,
And whirled aloft the lighter stubble born;
With such a force the flying rack is driven; 435
And such a winter wears the face of heaven:
And oft whole sheets descend of slucy rain,
Sucked by the spongy clouds from off the main:
The lofty skies at once come pouring down,
The promised crop and golden labours drown. 440
The dykes are filled, and with a roaring sound
The rising rivers float the nether ground;
And rocks the bellowing voice of boiling seas rebound.
The father of the gods his glory shrowds,
Involved in Tempests, and a night of clouds. 445
And from the middle darkness flashing out,
By fits he deals his fiery bolts about.
Earth feels the motions of her angry god,
Her entrails tremble, and her mountains nod;
And flying beasts in forests seek abode: 450
Deep horrour seizes every humane breast,
Their pride is humbled, and their fear confessed:
While he from high his rowling Thunder throws,
And fires the mountains with repeated blows:
The rocks are from their old foundations rent; 455
The winds redouble, and the rains augment:
The waves on heaps are dashed against the shoar,
And now the woods, and now the billows roar.
In fear of this, observe the starry signs,
Where Saturn houses, and where hermes joins. 460
But first to heaven thy due devotions pay,
And annual gifts on ceres altars lay.
When winter's rage abates, when chearful hours
Awake the spring, and spring awakes the flowers,
On the green Turf thy careless limbs display, 465
And celebrate the mighty mother's day.
For then the hills with pleasing shades are crowned,
And sleeps are sweeter on the silken ground:
With milder beams the sun securely shines;
Fat are the lambs, and luscious are the wines. 470
Let every swain adore her power divine,
And milk and honey mix with sparkling wine:
Let all the choir of clowns attend the show,
In long procession, shouting as they go;
Invoking her to bless their yearly stores, 475
Inviting plenty to their crowded floors.
Thus in the spring, and thus in summer's heat,
Before the sickles touch the ripening wheat,
On ceres call; and let the labering hind
With okeen wreaths his hollow Temples bind: 480
On ceres let him call, and ceres praise,
With uncouth dances, and with country lays.
And that by certain signs we may presage
Of heats and rains, and wind's impetuous rage,
The sovereign of the heavens has set on high 485
The moon, to mark the changes of the skye:
When southern blasts shoued cease, and when the swain
Shoued near their folds his feeding flocks restrain.
For eere the rising winds begin to roar,
The working seas advance to wash the shoar: 490
Soft whispers run along the leavy woods,
And mountains whistle to the murmering floods:
Even then the doubtful billows scarce abstain
From the tossed vessel on the troubled main:
When crying cormorants forsake the sea, 495
And stretching to the covert wing their way:
When sportful coots run skimming o'er the strand;
When watchful herons leave their watry stand,
And mounting upward, with erected flight,
Gain on the skyes, and soar above the sight. 500
And oft before tempestuous winds arise,
The seeming stars fall headlong from the skies;
And, shooting through the darkness, guild the night
With sweeping glories, and long trails of light:
And chaff with eddy winds is whirled around, 505
And dancing leaves are lifted from the ground;
And floating feathers on the waters play.
But when the winged Thunder takes his way
From the cold north, and east and west ingage,
And at their frontiers meet with equal rage, 510
The clouds are crushed, a glut of gathered rain
The hollow ditches fills, and floats the plain,
And sailors furl their dropping sheets amain.
Wet weather seldom hurts the most unwise,
So plain the signs, such prophets are the skies: 515
The wary crane foresees it first, and sails
Above the storm, and leaves the lowly vales:
The cow looks up, and from afar can find
The change of heaven, and snuffs it in the wind.
The swallow skims the river's watry face, 520
The frogs renew the crokes of their loquacious race.
The careful ant her secret cell forsakes,
And drags her eggs along the narrow Tracks.
At either horn the rainbow drinks the flood,
Huge flocks of rising rooks forsake their food, 525
And, crying, seek the shelter of the wood.
Besides, the several sorts of watry fowls,
That swim the seas, or haunt the standing pools:
The swans that sail along the silver flood,
And dive with stretching necks to search their food. 530
Then lave their backs with sprinkling dews in vain,
And stem the stream to meet the promised rain.
The crow with clamerous cries the shower demands,
And single stalks along the desert sands.
The nightly virgin, while her wheel she plies, 535
Foresees the storm impending in the skies,
When sparkling lamps their sputtering light advance,
And in the sockets oily bubbles dance.
Then after showers, 'tis easie to descry
Returning suns, and a serener sky: 540
The stars shine smarter, and the moon adorns,
As with unborrowed beams, her sharpened horns.
The filmy gossamer now flitts no more,
Nor halcyons bask on the short sunny shoar:
Their litter is not tossed by sows unclean, 545
But a blue droughty mist descends upon the plain.
And owls, that mark the setting sun, declare
A star-light evening, and a morning fair.
Towering aloft, avenging nisus flies,
While dared below the guilty scylla lies. 550
Where-ever frighted scylla flies away,
Swift nisus follows, and pursues his prey.
Where injured nisus takes his airy course,
Thence trembling scylla flies and shuns his force.
This punishment pursues the unhappy maid, 555
And thus the purple hair is dearly paid.
Then, thrice the ravens rend the liquid air,
And crokeing notes proclaim the settled fair.
Then, round their airy palaces they fly,
To greet the sun; and seised with secret joy, 560
When storms are over-blown, with food repair
To their forsaken nests, and callow care.
Not that I think their breasts with heavenly souls
Inspired, as man, who destiny controls.
But with the changeful Temper of the skies, 565
As rains condense, and sunshine rarifies;
So turn the species in their altered minds,
Composed by calms, and disoomposed by winds.
From hence proceeds the birds harmonious voice:
From hence the cows exult, and frisking lambs rejoice. 570
Observe the daily circle of the sun,
And the short year of each revolving moon:
By them thou shalt foresee the following day;
Nor shall a starry night thy hopes betray.
When first the moon appears, if then she shrouds 575
Her silver crescent, tiped with sable clouds;
Conclude she bodes a Tempest on the main,
And brews for fields impetuous floods of rain.
Or if her face with fiery flushing glow,
Expect the ratling winds aloft to blow. 580
But four nights old, (for thatos the surest sign,)
With sharpened horns if glorious then she shine:
Next day, nor only that, but all the moon,
Till her revolving race be wholly run;
Are void of Tempests, both by land and sea, 585
And saylors in the port their promised vow shall pay.
Above the rest, the sun, who never lies;
Foretels the change of weather in the skies:
For if he rise, unwilling to his race,
Clouds on his brows, and spots upon his face; 590
Or if through mists he shoots his sullen beams,
Frugal of light, in loose and stragling streams:
Suspect a drizzling day, with southern rain,
Fatal to fruits, and flocks, and promised grain.
Or if aurora, with half opened eyes, 595
And a pale sickly cheek, salute the skies;
How shall the vine, with tender leaves, defend
Her teeming clusters, when the storms descend?
when ridgy roofs and Tiles can scarce avail,
To barr the ruin of the ratling hail. 600
But more than all, the setting sun survey,
When down the steep of heaven he drives the day.
For oft we find him finishing his race,
With various colours erring on his face;
If fiery red his glowing globe descends, 605
High winds and furious Tempests he portends.
But if his cheeks are swoln with livid blue,
He bodes wet weather by his watry hue.
If dusky spots are varyed on his brow,
And, streaked with red, a troubled colour show; 610
That sullen mixture shall at once declare
Winds, rain, and storms, and elemental war:
What desperate madman then woued venture o'er
The frith, or haul his cables from the shoar?
But if with purple rays he brings the light, 615
And a pure heaven resigns to quiet night:
No rising winds, or falling storms, are nigh:
But northern breezes through the forrest fly:
And drive the rack, and purge the ruffled sky.
the unerring sun by certain signs declares, 620
What the late even, or early morn prepares:
And when the south projects a stormy day,
And when the clearing north will puff the clouds away.
The sun reveals the secrets of the sky;
And who dares give the source of light the lye? 625
The change of empires often he declares,
Fierce Tumults, hidden Treasons, open wars.
He first the fate of Caesar did foretel,
And pityed rome, when rome in Caesar fell.
In iron clouds concealed the publick light: 630
And impious mortals feared eternal night.
Nor was the fact foretold by him alone:
Nature her self stood forth, and seconded the sun.
Earth, air, and seas, with prodigies were signed,
And birds obscene, and howling dogs divined. 635
What rocks did aetna's bellowing mouth expire
From her torn entrails! and what floods of fire!
What clanks were heard, in german skies afar,
Of arms and armies, rushing to the war!
Dire earthquakes rent the solid alps below, 640
And from their summets shook the eternal snow.
Pale specters in the close of night were seen;
And voices heard of more than mortal men.
In silent groves, dumb sheep and oxen spoke;
And streams ran backward, and their beds forsook: 645
The yawning earth disclosed the abyss of hell:
The weeping statues did the wars foretel;
And holy sweat from brazen idols fell.
Then rising in his might, the king of floods,
Rusht through the forrests, tore the lofty woods; 650
And rolling onward, with a sweepy sway,
Bore houses, herds, and labering hinds away.
Blood sprang from wells, wolfs howled in Towns by night,
And boding victims did the priests affright.
Such peals of Thunder never poured from high; 655
Nor lightening flashed from so serene a sky.
Red meteors ran along the etherial space;
Stars disappeared, and comets took their place.
For this, the emathian plains once more were strowed
With roman bodies, and just heaven thought good 660
To fatten twice those fields with roman blood.
Then, after length of Time, the labering swains,
Who turn the Turfs of those unhappy plains,
Shall rusty piles from the ploughed furrows take,
And over empty helmets pass the rake. 665
Amazed at antick Titles on the stones,
And mighty relicks of gygantick bones.
Ye home-born deities, of mortal birth!
Thou father romulus, and mother earth,
Goddess unmoved! whose guardian arms extend 670
o'er Thuscan Tiber's course, and roman Towers defend;
With youthful Caesar your joint powers ingage,
Nor hinder him to save the sinking age.
O! let the blood, already spilt, atone
For the past crimes of curst laomedon! 675
Heaven wants thee there, and long the gods, we know,
Have grudged thee, Caesar, to the world below.
Where fraud and rapine, right and wrong confound;
Where impious arms from every part resound,
And monstrous crimes in every shape are crowned. 680
The peaceful peasant to the wars is prest;
The fields lye fallow in inglorious rest.
The plain no pasture to the flock affords,
The crooked scythes are streightned into swords:
And there euphrates her soft off-spring arms, 685
And here the rhine rebellows with alarms:
The neighbering cities range on several sides,
Perfidious mars long plighted leagues divides,
And o'er the wasted world in Triumph rides.
So four fierce coursers starting to the race, 690
Scower through the plain, and lengthen every pace:
Nor reigns, nor curbs, nor threatening cries they fear,
The Second Book of the Georgics.
The subject of the following book is planting. in handling of which argument, the
poet shews all the different methods of raising trees: describes their variety;
and gives rules for the management of each in particular. he then points out the
soils in which the several plants thrive best: and thence takes oc?casion to run
out into the praises of italy. after which he gives some directions for discovering
the nature of every soil; pre?scribes rules for the dressing of vines, olives, &c.
and con?cludes the georgic with a panegyric on a country life.
Thus far of Tillage, and of heavenly signs;
Now sing my muse the growth of generous vines:
The shady groves, the woodland progeny,
And the slow product of minerva's tree.
Great father Bacchus! to my song repair; 5
For clustring grapes are thy peculiar care:
For thee large bunches load the bending vine,
And the last blessings of the year are thine.
To thee his joys the jolly autumn owes,
When the fermenting juice the vat o'erflows. 10
Come strip with me, my god, come drench all o'er
Thy limbs in must of wine, and drink at every pore.
Some trees their birth to bounteous nature owe:
For some without the pains of planting grow.
With osiers thus the banks of brooks abound, 15
Sprung from the watry genius of the ground:
From the same principles grey willows come;
Herculean poplar, and the tender broom.
But some from seeds inclosed in earth arise:
For thus the mastful chesnut mates the skies. 20
Hence rise the branching beech and vocal oke,
Where Jove of old oraculously spoke.
Some from the root a rising wood disclose;
Thus elms, and thus the savage cherry grows.
Thus the green bays, that binds the poetos brows, 25
shoots and is sheltered by the mother's boughs.
These ways of planting, nature did ordain,
for trees and shrubs, and all the sylvan reign.
others there are, by late experience found:
Some cut the shoots, and plant in furrowed ground: 30
some cover rooted stalks in deeper mold:
some cloven stakes; and (wonderous to behold,)
Their sharpened ends in earth their footing place,
And the dry poles produce a living race.
some bowe their vines, which buryed in the plain, 35
Their tops in distant arches rise again.
others no root rechoir, the laberer cuts
young slips, and in the soil securely puts.
even stumps of olives, bared of leaves, and dead,
revive, and oft redeem their withered head. 40
'Tis usual now, an inmate graff to see,
with insolence invade a foreign tree:
Thus pears and quinces from the crabtree come;
and thus the ruddy cornel bears the plum.
Then let the learned gardener mark with care 45
The kinds of stocks, and what those kinds will bear:
explore the nature of each several tree;
and known, improve with artful industry:
and let no spot of idle earth be found,
but cultivate the genius of the ground. 50
for open ismarus will Bacchus please;
Taburnus loves the shade of olive trees.
The virtues of the several soils I sing,
mecaenas, now thy needful succour bring!
o thou! the better part of my renown, 55
inspire thy poet, and thy poem crown:
embarque with me, while I new Tracts explore,
with flying sails and breezes from the shore:
not that my song, in such a scanty space,
so large a subject fully can embrace: 60
not tho I were supplyed with iron lungs,
a hundred mouths, filled with as many Tongues:
but steer my vessel with a steady hand,
and coast along the shore in sight of land.
nor will I tire thy patience with a train 65
of preface, or what ancient poets feign.
The trees, which of themselves advance in air,
are barren kinds, but strongly built and fair:
because the vigour of the native earth
maintains the plant, and makes a manly birth. 70
yet these, receiving graffs of other kind,
or thence transplanted, change their savage mind:
Their wildness lose, and quitting nature's part,
obey the rules and discipline of art.
The same do trees, that, sprung from barren roots 75
in open fields, transplanted bear their fruits.
for where they grow the native energy
Turns all into the substance of the tree,
starves and destroys the fruit, is only made
for brawny bulk, and for a barren shade. 80
The plant that shoots from seed, a sullen tree
at leisure grows, for late posterity;
The generous flavour lost, the fruits decay,
and salvage grapes are made the birds ignoble prey.
Much labour is rechoird in trees, to tame 85
Their wild disorder, and in ranks reclaim.
Well must the ground be diged, and better dressed,
New soil to make, and meliorate the rest.
Old stakes of olive trees in plants revive;
By the same methods paphian myrtles live: 90
But nobler vines by propagation thrive.
From roots hard hazles, and from cyens rise
Tall ash, and taller oke that mates the skies:
Palm, poplar, firr, descending from the steep
Of hills, to try the dangers of the deep. 95
The thin-leaved arbute hazle, graffs receives,
And planes huge apples bear, that bore but leaves.
Thus mastful beech the bristly chesnut bears,
And the wild ash is white with blooming pears.
And greedy swine from grafted elms are fed, 100
With falling acorns, that on okes are bred.
But various are the ways to change the state
Of plants, to bud, to graff, to inoculate.
For where the tender rinds of trees disclose
Their shooting gems, a swelling knot there grows; 105
Just in that space a narrow slit we make,
Then other buds from bearing trees we take:
Inserted thus, the wounded rind we close,
In whose moist womb the admitted infant grows.
But when the smoother bole from knots is free, 110
We make a deep incision in the tree;
And in the solid wood the slip inclose,
The batening bastard shoots again and grows:
And in short space the laden boughs arise,
With happy fruit advancing to the skies. 115
The mother plant admires the leaves unknown,
Of alien trees, and apples not her own.
Of vegetable woods are various kinds,
And the same species are of several minds.
Lotes, willows, elms, have different forms allowed, 120
So funeral cypress rising like a shrowd.
Fat olive trees of sundry sorts appear:
Of sundry shapes their unctuous berries bear.
Radii long olives, Orchites round produce,
And bitter Pausia, pounded for the juice. 125
Alcinous orchard various apples bears:
Unlike are bergamotes and pounder pears.
Nor our Italian vines produce the shape,
Or tast, or flavour of the Lesbian grape.
The Thasian vines in richer soils abound, 130
The Mareotique grow in barren ground.
The Psythian grape we dry: Lagean juice,
Will stammering tongues, and staggering feet produce.
Rathe ripe are some, and some of later kind,
Of golden some, and some of purple rind. 135
How shall I praise the Raethean grape divine,
Which yet contends not with Falernian wine!
the Aminean many a consulship survives,
And longer than the Lydian vintage lives?
Or high Phanaeus king of Chian growth: 140
But for large quantities, and lasting both,
The less Argitis bears the prize away.
The Rhodian, sacred to the solemn day,
In second services is poured to Jove;
And best accepted by the gods above. 145
Nor must Bumastus his old honours lose,
In length and largeness like the dugs of cows.
I pass the rest, whose every race and name,
And kinds, are less material to my theme.
Which who woued learn, as soon may tell the sands, 150
Driven by the western wind on Lybian lands.
Or number, when the blustering Eurus roars,
The billows beating on ionian shoars.
Nor every plant on every soil will grow;
The sallow loves the watry ground, and low. 155
The marshes, alders; Nature seems toordain
The rocky cliff for the wild ashe's reign:
The baleful yew to northern blasts assigns;
To shores the myrtles, and to mounts the vines.
Regard the extremest cultivated coast, 160
From hot Arabia to the Scythian frost:
All sort of trees their several countries know;
Black ebon only will in India grow:
And oderous frankincense on the Sabaean bough.
Balm slowly trickles through the bleeding veins 165
Of happy shrubs, in Idumaean plains.
The green Egyptian thorn, for med'cine good;
With Ethiops hoary trees and woolly wood,
Let others tell: and how the seres spin
Their fleecy forests in a slender twine. 170
With mighty trunks of trees on Indian shoars,
Whose height above the feathered arrow soars,
Shot from the toughest bow; and by the brawn
Of expert archers, with vast vigour drawn.
Sharp tasted citrons Median climes produce: 175
Bitter the rind, but generous is the juice:
A cordial fruit, a present antidote
Against the direful stepdam's deadly draught:
Who mixing wicked weeds with words impure,
The fate of envyed orphans woued procure. 180
Large is the plant, and like a laurel grows,
And did it not a different scent disclose,
A laurel were: the fragrant flowers contemn
The stormy winds, tenacious of their stem.
With this the Medes, to labering age, bequeath 185
New lungs, and cure the sourness of the breath.
But neither Median woods, (a plenteous land),
Fair Ganges, Hermus rolling golden sand,
Nor Bactria, nor the richer Indian fields,
Nor all the gummy stores Arabia yields; 190
Nor any foreign earth of greater name,
Can with sweet Italy contend in fame.
No bulls, whose nostrils breath a living flame,
Have turned our turf, no teeth of serpents here
Were sown, an armed host, and iron crop to bear. 195
But fruitful vines, and the fat olives freight,
And harvests heavy with their fruitful weight,
Adorn our fields; and on the chearful green,
The grazing flocks and lowing herds are seen.
The warrior horse, here bred, is taught to train, 200
There flows Clitumnus through the flowery plain;
Whose waves, for triumphs after prosperous wars,
The victim ox, and snowy sheep prepares.
Perpetual spring our happy climate sees,
Twice breed the cattle, and twice bear the trees; 205
And summer suns recede by slow degrees.
Our land is from the rage of tygers freed,
Nor nourishes the lyon's angry seed;
Nor poisenous aconite is here produced,
Or grows unknown, or is, when known, refused. 210
Nor in so vast a length our serpents glide,
Or raised on such a spiry volume ride.
Next add our cities of illustrious name,
Their costly labour and stupend'ous frame:
Our forts on steepy hills, that far below 215
See wanton streams, in winding valleys flow.
Our twofold seas, that washing either side,
A rich recruit of foreign stores provide.
Our spacious lakes; thee, Larius, first; and next
Benacus, with tempestoous billows vext. 220
Or shall I praise thy ports, or mention make
Of the vast mound, that binds the lucrine lake.
Or the disdainful sea, that, shut from thence,
Roars round the structure, and invades the fence.
There, where secure the Julian waters glide, 225
Or where Avernus jaws admit the Tyrrhene tide.
Our quarries deep in earth, were famed of old,
For veins of silver, and for ore of gold.
the inhabitants themselves, their country grace;
Hence rose the Marsian and Sabellian race: 230
Strong limbed and stout, and to the wars inclined,
And hard Ligurians, a laborious kind.
And Volscians armed with iron-headed darts.
Besides an off-spring of undaunted hearts,
The Decij, Marij, great Camillus came 235
From hence, and greater scipio's double name:
And mighty Caesar, whose victorious arms,
To farthest asia, carry fierce alarms:
Avert unwarlike Indians from his Rome;
Triumph abroad, secure our peace at home. 240
Hail, sweet Saturnian soil! Of fruitful grain
Great parent, greater of illustrious men.
For thee my tuneful accents will I raise,
And treat of arts disclosed in ancient days:
Once more unlock for thee the sacred spring, 245
And old Ascraean verse in Roman cities sing.
The nature of their several soils now see,
Their strength, their colour, their fertility:
And first for heath, and barren hilly ground,
Where meagre clay and flinty stones abound; 250
Where the poor soil all succour seems to want,
Yet this suffices the Palladian plant.
Undoubted signs of such a soil are found,
For here wild olive-shoots o'erspread the ground,
And heaps of berries strew the fields around. 255
But where the soil, with fatening moisture filled,
Is cloathed with grass, and fruitful to be tilled:
Such as in chearful vales we view from high;
Which dripping rocks with rowling streams supply,
And feed with ooze; where rising hillocks run 260
In length, and open to the southern sun;
Where fern succeeds, ungrateful to the plough,
That gentle ground to generous grapes allow.
Strong stocks of vines it will in time produce,
And overflow the vats with friendly juice. 265
Such as our priests in golden goblets pour
To gods, the givers of the chearful hour.
Then when the bloated Tuscan blows his horn,
And reeking entrails are in chargers born.
If herds or fleecy flocks be more thy care, 270
Or goats that graze the field, and burn it bare:
Then seek tarentum's lawns, and farthest coast,
Or such a field as hapless Mantua lost:
Where silver swans sail down the watery rode,
And graze the floating herbage of the flood. 275
There crystal streams perpetual tenour keep,
Nor food nor springs are wanting to thy sheep.
For what the day devours, the nightly dew
Shall to the morn in perly drops renew.
Fat crumbling earth is fitter for the plough, 280
Putrid and loose above, and black below:
For ploughing is an imitative toil,
Resembling nature in an easie soil.
No land for seed like this, no fields afford
So large an income to the village lord: 285
No toiling teams from harvest-labour come
So late at night, so heavy laden home.
The like of forest land is understood,
From whence the spleenful ploughman grubs the wood,
Which had for length of ages idle stood. 290
Then birds forsake the ruins of their seat,
And flying from their nests their callow young forget.
The coarse lean gravel, on the mountain sides,
Scarce dewy beverage for the bees provides:
Nor chalk nor crumbling stones, the food of snakes, 295
That work in hollow earth their winding tracts.
The soil exhaling clouds of subtile dews,
Imbibing moisture which with ease she spews;
Which rusts not iron, and whose mold is clean,
Well cloathed with chearful grass, and ever green, 300
Is good for olives and aspiring vines;
Embracing husband elms in amerous twines,
Is fit for feeding cattle, fit to sowe,
And equal to the pasture and the plough.
Such is the soil of fat Campanian fields, 305
Such large increase the land that joins Vesuvian yields:
And such a country could Acerra boast,
Till Clanius overflowed the unhappy coast.
I teach thee next the differing soils to know;
The light for vines, the heavyer for the plough. 310
choose first a place for such a purpose fit,
There dig the solid earth, and sink a pit:
Next fill the hole with its own earth again,
And trample with thy feet, and tread it in:
Then if it rise not to the former height 315
Of superfice, conclude that soil is light;
A proper ground for pasturage and vines.
But if the sullen earth, so pressed, repines
Within its native mansion to retire,
And stays without, a heap of heavy mire; 320
'Tis good for arable, a glebe that asks
Tough teams of oxen, and laborious tasks.
Salt earth and bitter are not fit to sow,
Nor will be tamed or mended with the plough.
Sweet grapes degenerate there, and fruits declined 325
From their first flaverous taste, renounce their kind.
This truth by sure experiment is tryed;
For first an ofier colendar provide
Of twigs thick wrought, (such toiling peasants twine,
When through streight passages they strein their wine;) 330
In this close vessel place that earth accursed,
But filled brimful with wholsom water first;
Then run it through, the drops will rope around,
And by the bitter taste disclose the ground.
The fatter earth by handling we may find, 335
With ease distinguished from the meagre kind:
Poor soil will crumble into dust, the rich
Will to the fingers cleave like clammy pitch:
Moist earth produces corn and grass, but both
Too rank and too luxuriant in their growth. 340
Let not my land so large a promise boast,
Lest the lank ears in length of stem be lost.
The heavier earth is by her weight betrayed,
The lighter in the poising hand is weighed:
'tis easy to distinguish by the sight 345
The colour of the soil, and black from white.
But the cold ground is difficult to know,
Yet this the plants that prosper there, will show;
Black ivy, pitch trees, and the baleful yew.
These rules considered well, with early care, 350
The vineyard destined for thy vines prepare:
But, long before the planting, dig the ground,
With furrows deep that cast a rising mound:
The clods, exposed to winter winds, will bake:
For putrid earth will best in vineyards take, 355
And hoary frosts, after the painful toil
Of delving hinds, will rot the mellow soil.
Some peasants, not to omit the nicest care,
Of the same soil their nursery prepare,
With that of their plantation; lest the tree 360
Translated, should not with the soil agree.
Beside, to plant it as it was, they mark
The heavens four quarters on the tender bark;
And to the north or south restore the side,
Which at their birth did heat or cold abide. 365
So strong is custom; such effects can use
In tender souls of pliant plants produce.
Choose next a province, for thy vineyards reign,
On hills above, or in the lowly plain:
If fertile fields or valleys be thy choice, 370
Plant thick, for bounteous Bacchus will rejoice
In close plantations there: but if the vine
On rising ground be placed, or hills supine,
Extend thy loose battalions largely wide,
Opening thy ranks and files on either side: 375
But marshalled all in order as they stand,
And let no soldier straggle from his band.
As legions in the field their front display,
To try the fortune of some doubtful day,
And move to meet their foes with sober pace, 380
Strict to their figure, tho' in wider space;
Before the battle joins, while from afar
The field yet glitters with the pomp of war,
And equal mars, like an impartial lord,
Leaves all to fortune, and the dint of sword; 385
So let thy vines in intervals be set,
But not their rural discipline forget:
Indulge their width, and add a roomy space,
That their extreamest lines may scarce embrace:
Nor this alone toindulge a vain delight, 390
And make a pleasing prospect for the sight:
But, for the ground it self this only way,
Can equal vigour to the plants convey;
Which crowded, want the room, their branches to display.
How deep they must be planted, woud'st thou know? 395
In shallow furrows vines securely grow.
Not so the rest of plants; for Joves own tree,
That holds the woods in awful soveraignty,
Rechoirs a depth of lodging in the ground;
And, next the lower skies, a bed profound: 400
High as his topmost boughs to heaven ascend,
So low his roots to hell's dominion tend.
Therefore, nor winds, nor winters rage o'erthrows
His bulky body, but unmoved he grows.
For length of ages lasts his happy reign, 405
And lives of mortal man contend in vain.
Full in the midst of his own strength he stands,
Stretching his brawny arms, and leafy hands;
His shade protects the plains, his head the hills commands.
The hurtful hazle in thy vineyard shun; 410
Nor plant it to receive the setting sun:
Nor break the topmost branches from the tree;
Nor prune, with blunted knife, the progeny.
Root up wild olives from thy laboured lands:
For sparkling fire, from hinds unwary hands, 415
Is often scattered o'er their unctuous rinds,
And after spread abroad by raging winds.
For first the smouldring flame the trunk receives,
Ascending thence, it crackles in the leaves:
At length victorious to the top aspires, 420
Involving all the wood with smoky fires,
But most, when driven by winds, the flaming storm,
Of the long files destroys the beauteous form.
In ashes then the unhappy vineyard lies,
Nor will the blasted plants from ruin rise: 425
Nor will the withered stock be green again,
But the wild olive shoots, and shades the ungrateful plain.
Be not seduced with wisdom's empty shows,
To stir the peaceful ground when Boreas blows.
When winter frosts constrain the field with cold, 430
The fainty root can take no steady hold.
But when the golden spring reveals the year,
And the white bird returns, whom serpents fear:
That season deem the best to plant thy vines.
Next that, is when autumnal warmth declines: 435
Eere heat is quite decayed, or cold begun,
Or capricorn admits the winter sun.
The spring adorns the woods, renews the leaves;
The womb of earth the genial seed receives.
For then almighty Jove descends, and pours 440
Into his buxom bride his fruitful showers.
And mixing his large limbs with hers, he feeds
Her births with kindly juice, and fosters teeming seeds.
Then joyous birds frequent the lonely grove,
And beasts, by nature stung, renew their love. 445
Then fields the blades of buryed corn disclose,
And while the balmy western spirit blows,
Earth to the breath her bosom dares expose.
With kindly moisture then the plants abound,
The grass securely springs above the ground; 450
The tender twig shoots upward to the skies,
And on the faith of the new sun relies.
The swerving vines on the tall elms prevail,
Unhurt by southern showers or northern hail.
They spread their gems the genial warmth to share: 455
And boldly trust their buds in open air.
In this soft season let me dare to sing
The world was hatched by Heaven's Imperial King 460
In presence of all the year and holidays of spring;
Then did the new creation first appear;
Nor other was the tenor of the year;
When laughing Heaven did the great birth attend.
And eastern winds their wintry breath suspend. 465
Then sheep first saw the sun in open fields;
And savage beasts were sent to stock the wilds;
Nor could the tender new creation bear
The excessive heats or coldness of the year;
But chilled by winter or by summer fired 470
The middle temper of the spring regained
When warmth and moisture did at once abound,
And Heaven's indulgence brooded on the ground.
For what remains, in depth of earth secure
Thy covered plants, and dung with hot manure; 475
And shells and gravel in the ground inclose;
For through their hollow chinks the water flows:
Which, thus imbibed, returns in misty dews,
And steeming up, the rising plant renews.
Some husbandmen, of late, have found the way, 480
A hilly heap of stones above to lay,
And press the plants with sherds of potters clay.
This fence against immoderate rain they found:
Or when the dog-star cleaves the thirsty ground.
Be mindful when thou hast intombed the shoot, 485
With store of earth around to feed the root;
With iron Teeth of rakes and prongs, to move
The crusted earth, and loosen it above.
Then exercise thy strugling steers to plough
Betwixt thy vines, and teach thy feeble row 490
To mount on reeds, and wands, and, upward led,
On ashen poles to raise their forky head.
On these new crutches let them learn to walk,
Till swerving upwards, with a stronger stalk,
They brave the winds, and, clinging to their gu 495
On tops of elms at length triumphant ride.
But in their tender nonage, while they spread
Their springing leafs, and lift their infant head,
And upward while they shoot in open air,
Indulge their child-hood, and the nurseling spare. 500
Nor exercise thy rage on new-born life,
But let thy hand supply the pruning-knife;
And crop luxuriant straglers, nor be loath
To strip the branches of their leafy growth:
But when the rooted vines, with steady hold, 505
Can clasp their elms, then husbandman be bold
To lop the disobedient boughs, that strayed
Beyond their ranks: let crooked steel invade
The lawless Troops, which discipline disclaim,
And their superfluous growth with rigour tame. 510
Next, fenced with hedges and deep ditches round,
Exclude the incroaching cattle from thy ground,
While yet the tender gems but just appear,
Unable to sustain the uncertain year;
Whose leaves are not alone foul winter's prey, 515
But oft by summer suns are scorched away;
And worse than both, become the unworthy browze
Of buffal'os, salt goats, and hungry cows.
For not December's frost that burns the boughs,
Nor dog-days parching heat that splits the rocks, 520
Are half so harmful as the greedy flocks:
Their venomed bite, and scars indented on the stocks.
For this the malefactor goat was laid
On Bacchus's altar, and his forfeit paid.
At Athens thus old comedy began, 525
When round the streets the reeling actors ran;
In country villages, and crossing ways,
Contending for the prizes of their plays:
And glad, with Bacchus, on the grassie soil,
Leapt o'er the skins of goats besmeared with oil. 530
Thus roman youth derived from ruined Troy,
In rude Saturnian rhymes express their joy:
With Taunts, and laughter loud, their audience please,
Deformed with vizards, cut from barks of trees:
In jolly hymns they praise the god of wine, 535
Whose earthen images adorn the pine;
And there are hung on high, in honour of the vine:
A madness so devout the vineyards fills.
In hollow valleys and on rising hills;
On what eere side he turns his honest face, 540
And dances in the wind, those fields are in his grace.
To Bacchus therefore let us tune our lays,
And in our mother Tongue resound his praise.
Thin cakes in chargers, and a guilty goat,
Dragged by the horns, be to his altars brought; 545
Whose offered entrails shall his crime reproach,
And drip their fatness from the hazle broach.
To dress thy vines new labour is rechoird,
Nor must the painful husbandman be tired:
For thrice, at least, in compass of the year, 500
Thy vineyard must employ the sturdy steer,
To turn the glebe; besides thy daily pain
To break the clods, and make the surface plain:
tounload the branches or the leaves to thin,
That suck the vital moisture of the vine. 555
Thus in a circle runs the peasantos pain,
And the year rowls within it self again.
Even in the lowest months, when storms have shed
From vines the hairy honours of their head;
Not then the drudging hind his labour ends; 560
But to the coming year his care extends:
Even then the naked vine he persecutes;
His pruning knife at once reforms and cuts.
Be first to dig the ground, be first to burn
The branches lopt, and first the props return 565
Into thy house, that bore the burdened vines;
But last to reap the vintage of thy wines.
Twice in the year luxuriant leaves o'ershade
The incumbered vine; rough brambles twice invade:
Hard labour both! commend the large excess 570
Of spacious vineyards; cultivate the less.
Besides, in woods the shrubs of prickly Thorn,
Sallows and reeds, on banks of rivers born,
Remain to cut; for vineyards useful found,
To stay thy vines, and fence thy fruitful ground. 575
Nor when thy tender trees at length are bound;
When peaceful vines from pruning hooks are free,
When husbands have surveyed the last degree,
And utmost files of plants, and ordered every tree;
Even when they sing at ease in full content, 580
Insulting o'er the Toils they underwent;
Yet still they find a future Task remain;
To turn the soil, and break the clods again:
And after all, their joys are unsincere,
While falling rains on ripening grapes they fear. 585
Quite opposite to these are olives found,
No dressing they rechoir, and dread no wound;
Nor rakes nor harrows need, but fixed below,
Rejoyce in open air, and unconcerndly grow.
The soil it self due nourishment supplies: 590
Plough but the furrows, and the fruits arise:
Content with small endeavours, 'till they spring.
Soft peace they figure, and sweet plenty bring:
Then olives plant, and hymns to Pallas sing.
Thus apple trees, whose Trunks are strong to bear 595
Their spreading boughs, exert themselves in air:
Want no supply, but stand secure alone,
Not trusting foreign forces, but their own:
'Till with the ruddy freight the bending branches groan.
Thus trees of nature, and each common bush, 600
Uncultivated thrive, and with red berries blush.
Vile shrubs are shorn for browze: the towering hight
Of unctuous trees, are Torches for the night.
And shall we doubt, (indulging easie sloath,)
To sow, to set, and to reform their growth? 605
To leave the lofty plants; the lowly kind,
Are for the shepherd, or the sheep designed.
Even humble broom and osiers have their use,
And shade for sleep, and food for flocks produce;
Hedges for corn, and honey for the bees: 610
Besides the pleasing prospect of the trees.
How goodly looks Cytorus, ever green
With boxen groves, with what delight are seen
Narycian woods of pitch, whose gloomy shade,
Seems for retreat of thoughtful muses made! 615
But much more pleasing are those fields to see,
That need not ploughs, nor human industry.
Even cold Caucasean rocks with trees are spread,
And wear green forests on their hilly head.
Tho' bending from the blast of eastern storms, 620
Tho' shent their leaves, and shattered are their arms;
Yet heaven their various plants for use designs:
For houses cedars, and for shipping pines.
Cypress provides for spokes, and wheels of wains:
And all for keels of ships, that scour the watry plains. 625
Willows in Twigs are fruitful, elms in leaves,
The war, from stubborn myrtle shafts receives:
From cornels jav'lins, and the tougher yew
Receives the bending figure of a bow.
Nor box, nor limes, without their use are made, 630
Smooth-grained, and proper for the Turner's Trade:
Which curious hands may kerve, and steel with ease invade.
Light alder stems the po's impetuous Tide,
And bees in hollow okes their hony hide.
Now, balance, with these gifts, the fumy joys 635
Of wine, attended with eternal noise.
Wine urged to lawless lust the centaurs Train,
through wine they quarrelled, and through wine were slain.
O happy, if he knew his happy state!
The swain, who, free from business and debate; 640
Receives his easy food from nature's hand,
And just returns of cultivated land!
No palace, with a lofty gate, he wants,
to admit the Tydes of early visitants.
With eager eyes devouring, as they pass, 645
The breathing figures of corinthian brass.
No statues threaten, from high pedestals;
No persian arras hides his homely walls,
With antick vests; which through their shady fold,
Betray the streaks of ill dissembled gold. 650
He boasts no wool, whose native white is dyed
With purple poyson of assyrian pride.
No costly drugs of araby defile,
With foreign scents, the sweetness of his oil.
But easie quiet, a secure retreat, 655
A harmless life that knows not how to cheat,
With homebred plenty the rich owner bless,
And rural pleasures crown his happiness.
Unvexed with quarrels, undisturbed with noise,
The country king his peaceful realm enjoys: 660
Cool grots, and living lakes, the flowery pride
Of meads, and streams that through the valley glide;
And shady groves that easie sleep invite,
And after toilsome days, a sweet repose at night.
Wild beasts of nature in his woods abound; 665
And youth, of labour patient, plow the ground,
Inured to hardship, and to homely fare.
Nor venerable age is wanting there,
In great examples to the youthful Train:
Nor are the gods adored with rites prophane. 670
From hence astrea took her flight, and here
The prints of her departing steps appear.
Ye sacred muses, with whose beauty fired,
My soul is ravished, and my brain inspired:
Whose priest I am, whose holy fillets wear; 675
Woued you your Virgil's first petition hear,
Give me the ways of wandring stars to know:
The depths of heaven above, and earth below.
Teach me the various labours of the moon,
And whence proceed the eclipses of the sun. 680
Why flowing Tides prevail upon the main,
And in what dark recess they shrink again.
What shakes the solid earth, what cause delays
The summer nights, and shortens winter days.
But if my heavy blood restrain the flight 685
Of my free soul, aspiring to the height
Of nature, and unclouded fields of light:
My next desire is, void of care and strife,
To lead a soft, secure, inglorious life.
A country cottage near a crystal flood, 690
A winding vally, and a lofty wood.
Some god conduct me to the sacred shades,
Where bacchanals are sung by spartan maids.
Or lift me high to hemus hilly crown;
Or in the plains of Tempe lay me down: 695
Or lead me to some solitary place,
And cover my retreat from human race.
Happy the man, who, studying nature's laws,
through known effects can trace the secret cause.
His mind possessing, in a quiet state, 700
Fearless of fortune, and resigned to fate.
And happy too is he, who decks the bowers
Of sylvans, and adores the rural powers:
Whose mind, unmoved, the bribes of courts can see;
Their glittering baits, and purple slavery. 705
Nor hopes the people's praise, nor fears their frown,
Nor, when contending kindred tear the crown,
Will set up one, or pull another down.
Without concern he hears, but hears from far,
Of Tumults and descents, and distant war: 710
Nor with a superstitious fear is awed,
For what befals at home, or what abroad.
Nor envies he the rich their heapy store,
Nor with a helpless hand condoles the poor.
He feeds on fruits, which, of their own accord, 715
The willing ground, and laden trees afford.
From his loved home no lucre him can draw;
The senates mad decrees he never saw;
Nor heard, at bawling bars, corrupted law.
Some to the seas, and some to camps resort, 720
And some with impudence invade the court.
In foreign countries others seek renown,
With wars and Taxes others waste their own.
And houses burn, and houshold gods deface,
To drink in bowls which glittering gems enchase: 725
To loll on couches, rich with cytron steds,
And lay their guilty limbs in Tyrian beds.
This wretch in earth intombs his golden ore,
Hovering and brooding on his buryed store.
Some patriot fools to pop'lar praise aspire, 730
By publick speeches, which worse fools admire.
While from both benches, with redoubled sounds,
the applause of lords and commoners abounds.
Some through ambition, or through Thirst of gold;
Have slain their brothers, or their country sold: 735
And leaving their sweet homes, in exile run
To lands that lye beneath another sun.
The peasant, innocent of all these ills,
With crooked ploughs the fertile fallows tills;
And the round year with daily labour fills. 740
From hence the country markets are supplyed:
Enough remains for houshold charge beside;
His wife, and tender children to sustain,
And gratefully to feed his dumb deserving Train.
Nor cease his labours, till the yellow field 745
A full return of bearded harvest yield:
A crop so plenteous, as the land to load,
o'ercome the crowded barns, and lodge on ricks abroad.
Thus every several season is employed:
Some spent in Toil, and some in ease enjoyed. 750
The yeaning ewes prevent the springing year;
The laded boughs their fruits in autumn bear.
'Tis then the vine her liquid harvest yields,
Baked in the sun-shine of ascending fields.
The winter comes, and then the falling mast, 755
For greedy swine, provides a full repast.
Then olives, ground in mills, their fatness boast,
And winter fruits are mellowed by the frost.
His cares are eased with intervals of bliss,
His little children climbing for a kiss, 760
Welcome their father's late return at night;
His faithful bed is crowned with chast delight.
His kine with swelling udders ready stand,
And, lowing for the pail, invite the milker's hand.
His wanton kids, with budding horns prepared, 765
Fight harmless battles in his homely yard:
Himself in rustick pomp, on holy-days,
To rural powers a just oblation pays;
And on the green his careless limbs displays.
The hearth is in the midst; the herdsmen round 770
The chearful fire, provoke his health in goblets crowned.
He calls on Bacchus, and propounds the prize;
The groom his fellow groom at butts defies;
And bends his bow, and levels with his eyes.
Or stript for wrestling, smears his limbs with oil, 775
And watches with a trip his foe to foil.
Such was the life the frugal Sabines led;
So Remus and his brother god were bred:
From whom the austere etrurian virtue rose,
And this rude life our homely fathers chose. 780
Old Rome from such a race derived her birth,
(The seat of empire, and the conquered earth:)
Which now on seven high hills triumphant reigns,
And in that compass all the world contains.
Eere Saturn's rebel son usurped the skies, 785
When beasts were only slain for sacrifice:
While peaceful Crete enjoyed her ancient lord,
Eere sounding hammers forged the inhumane sword:
Eere hollow drums were beat, before the breath
Of brazen Trumpets rung the peals of death; 790
The good old god his hunger did asswage
With roots and herbs, and gave the golden age.
But over laboured with so long a course,
Tis time to set at ease the smokeing horse.
The Third book of the Georgics.
This book begins with an invocation of some rural deities, and a compliment to augustus: after which Virgil directs himself to mecaenas, and enters on his
subject. he lays down rules for the breeding and management of horses, oxen, sheep, goats, and dogs: and interweaves several pleasant descriptions of a
chariot-race, of the battle of the bulls, of the force of love, and of the Scythian winter. in the latter part of the book he relates the diseases incident
to cattle; and ends with the description of a fatal murrain that formerly raged among the alps.
Thy fields, propitious Pales, I reherse;
And sing thy pastures in no vulgar verse,
Amphrysian shepherd; the lycaean woods;
Arcadia's flowery plains, and pleasing floods.
All other Themes, that careless minds invite, 5
Are worn with use; unworthy me to write.
Busiri's altars, and the dire decrees
Of hard Euristheus, every reader sees:
Hylas the boy, Latona's erring isle,
And Pelop's ivery shoulder, and his Toil 10
For fair Hippodame, with all the rest
Of Grecian Tales, by poets are exprest:
New ways I must attempt, my groveling name
To raise aloft, and wing my flight to fame.
I, first of Romans shall in Triumph come 15
From conquered Greece, and bring her Trophies home:
With foreign spoils adorn my native place;
And with Idume's palms, my Mantua grace.
Of Parian stone a Temple will I raise,
Where the slow mincius through the vally strays: 20
Where cooling streams invite the flocks to drink:
And reeds defend the winding waters brink.
Full in the midst shall mighty Caesar stand:
Hold the chief honours; and the dome command.
Then i, conspicuous in my Tyrian gown, 25
(submitting to his godhead my renown)
A hundred coursers from the goal will drive;
The rival chariots in the race shall strive.
All Greece shall flock from far, my games to see;
The whorlbat, and the rapid race, shall be 30
Reserved for Caesar, and ordained by me.
My self, with olive crowned, the gifts will bear:
Even now methinks the publick shouts I hear:
The passing pageants, and the pomps appear.
I, to the Temple will conduct the crew: 35
The sacrifice and sacrificers view;
From thence return, attended with my Train,
Where the proud Theatres disclose the scene:
Which interwoven britains seem to raise,
And shew the Triumph which their shame displays. 40
High o'er the gate, in elephant and gold,
The crowd shall Caesar's Indian war behold;
The Nile shall flow beneath; and on the side,
His shattered ships on brazen pillars ride.
Next him Niphates with inverted urn, 45
And dropping sedge, shall his Armenia mourn;
And Asian cities in our Triumph born.
With backward bows the parthians shall be there;
And, spurring from the fight confess their fear.
A double wreath shall crown our Caesar's brows; 50
Two differing Trophies, from two different foes.
Europe with Africk in his fame shall join;
But neither shoar his conquest shall confine.
The Parian marble, there, shall seem to move,
In breathing statues, not unworthy Jove. 55
Resembling heroes, whose etherial root,
Is Jove himself, and Caesar is the fruit.
Tros and his race the sculptor shall employ;
And he the god, who built the walls of Troy.
Envy her self at last, grown pale and dumb; 60
(by Caesar combated and overcome)
Shall give her hands; and fear the curling snakes
Of lashing furies, and the burning lakes:
The pains of famisht Tantalus shall feel;
And Sisyphus that labours up the hill 65
The rowling rock in vain; and curst Ixion's wheel.
Meantime we must pursue the sylvan lands;
(the abode of nymphs,) untouched by former hands:
For such, Maecenas, are thy hard commands.
Without thee nothing lofty can I sing; 70
Come then, and with thy self thy genius bring:
With which inspired, I brook no dull delay.
Cytheron loudly calls me to my way;
Thy hounds, Taygetus, open and pursue their prey.
High Epidaurus urges on my speed, 75
Famed for his hills, and for his horses breed:
From hills and dales the chearful cries rebound:
For echo hunts along; and propagates the sound.
A time will come, when my maturer muse,
In Caesar's wars, a nobler Theme shall choose. 80
And through more ages bear my soveraign's praise;
Than have from Tithon past to Caesar's days.
The generous youth, who studious of the prize,
The race of running coursers multiplies;
Or to the plough the sturdy bullock breeds, 85
May know that from the dam the worth of each proceeds:
The mother cow must wear a lowering look,
Sour headed, strongly necked, to bear the yoke.
Her double dew-lap from her chin descends:
And at her Thighs the pondrous burthen ends. 90
Long are her sides and large, her limbs are great;
Rough are her ears, and broad her horny feet.
Her colour shining black, but flecked with white;
She tosses from the yoke; provokes the fight:
She rises in her gate, is free from fears; 95
And in her face a bull's resemblance bears:
Her ample forehead with a star is crowned;
And with her length of Tail she sweeps the ground.
The bull's insult at four she may sustain;
But, after Ten, from nuptial rites refrain. 100
Six seasons use; but then release the cow,
Unfit for love, and for the labering plough.
Now while their youth is filled with kindly fire,
Submit thy females to the lusty sire:
Watch the quick motions of the frisking Tail, 105
Then serve their fury with the rushing male,
Indulging pleasure lest the breed shoued fail.
In youth alone, unhappy mortals live;
But, ah! the mighty bliss is fugitive;
Discoloured sickness, anxious labours come, 110
And age, and deathes inexorable doom.
Yearly thy herds in vigour will impair;
Recruit and mend them with thy yearly care:
Still propagate, for still they fall away,
'Tis prudence to prevent the entire decay. 115
Like diligence rechoirs the courser's race;
In early choice; and for a longer space.
The colt, that for a stallion is designed,
By sure presages shows his generous kind,
Of able body, sound of limb and wind. 120
Upright he walks, on pasterns firm and straight;
His motions easy; prancing in his gait.
The first to lead the way, to tempt the flood;
To pass the bridge unknown, nor fear the trembling wood.
Dauntless at empty noises; lofty necked; 125
Sharp headed, barrel bellyed, broadly backed.
Brawny his chest, and deep, his colour gray;
For beauty dappled, or the brightest bay:
Faint white and dun will scarce the rearing pay.
The fiery courser, when he hears from far, 130
The sprightly Trumpet, and the shouts of war,
Pricks up his ears; and trembling with delight,
Shifts place, and paws; and hopes the promised fight.
On his right shoulder his thick mane reclined,
Ruffles at speed; and dances in the wind. 135
His horny hoofs are jetty black, and round;
His chine is double; starting, with a bound
He turns the Turf, and shakes the solid ground.
Fire from his eyes, clouds from his nostrils flow:
He bears his rider headlong on the foe. 140
Such was the steed in Graecian poets famed,
Proud cyllarus, by spartan castor tamed:
Such coursers bore to fight the god of Thrace;
And such, achilles, was thy warlike race.
In such a shape, old Saturn did restrain 145
His heavenly limbs, and flowed with such a mane.
When, half surprized, and fearing to be seen,
The leacher galloped from his jealous queen:
Ran up the ridges of the rocks amain;
And with shrill neighings filled the neigbering plain. 150
But worn with years, when dire diseases come,
Then hide his not ignoble age, at home:
In peace to enjoy his former palms and pains;
And gratefully be kind to his remains.
For when his blood no youthful spirits move, 155
He languishes and labours in his love.
And when the sprightly seed shoued swiftly come,
Dribling he drudges, and defrauds the womb.
In vain he burns, like fainty stubble fires;
And in himself his former self rechoirs. 160
His age and courage weigh: nor those alone,
But note his father's virtues with his own;
Observe if he disdains to yield the prize;
Of loss impatient, proud of victories.
Hast thou beheld, when from the goal they start, 165
The youthful charioteers with beating heart,
Rush to the race; and panting, scarcely bear
the extreams of feaverish hope, and chilling fear;
Stoop to the reins, and lash with all their force;
The flying chariot kindles in the course: 170
And now aloft; and now alow they fly,
Now seem to sink in earth, and now to touch the sky;
No stop, no stay, but clouds of sand arise;
Spurned, and cast backward on the follower's eyes.
The hindmost blows the foam upon the first: 175
Such is the love of praise, an honourable Thirst.
Bold Ericthonius was the first, who joined
Four horses for the rapid race designed;
And o'er the dusty wheels presiding sate;
The Lapithae to chariots, added state 180
Of bits and bridles; taught the steed to bound;
To run the ring, and trace the mazy round.
To stop, to fly, the rules of war to know:
to obey the rider; and to dare the foe.
To choose a youthful steed, with courage fired; 185
To breed him, break him, back him, are rechoird
Experienced masters; and in sundry ways:
Their labours equal, and alike their praise.
But once again the battered horse beware,
The weak old stallion will deceive thy care. 190
Though famous in his youth for force and speed,
Or was of Argos or Epirian breed,
Or did from Neptune's race, or from himself proceed.
These things premised, when now the nuptial time
Approaches for the stately steed to climb; 195
With food enable him, to make his court;
Distend his chine,15 and pamper him for sport.
Feed him with herbs, whatever thou can'st find,
Of generous warmth; and of salacious kind.
Then water him, and (drinking what he can) 200
Encourage him to thirst again, with bran.
Instructed thus, produce him to the faire;
And joyn in wedlock to the longing mare.
For if the sire be faint, or out of case,
He will be copied in his famished race: 205
And sink beneath the pleasing task assigned;
(for all's too little for the craving kind.)
As for the females, with industrious care
Take down their mettle, keep them lean and bare;
When conscious of their past delight, and keen 210
To take the leap, and prove the sport again;
With scanty measure then supply their food;
And, when athirst, restrain them from the flood:
Their bodies harrass, sink them when they run;
And fry their melting marrow in the sun. 215
Starve them, when barns beneath their burthen groan,
And winnowed chaff, by western winds is blown.
For fear the rankness of the swelling womb
Shoued scant the passage, and confine the room.
Lest the fat furrows shoued the sense destroy 220
Of genial lust; and dull the seat of joy.
But let them suck the seed with greedy force;
And there enclose the vigour of the horse.
No more of coursers yet: we now proceed
To teeming kine; and their laborious breed. 225
First let them run at large; and never know
The taming yoke, or draw the crooked plough.
Let them not leap the ditch, or swim the flood;
Or lumber o'er the meads; or cross the wood.
But range the forrest, by the silver side 230
Of some cool stream, where nature shall provide
Green grass and fatening clover for their fare!
And mossy caverns for their evening lare:
With rocks above, to shield the sharp nocturnal air.
About the Alburnian groves, with holly green, 235
Of winged insects mighty swarms are seen:
This flying plague (to mark its quality;)
Oestros the Grecians call: Asylus, we:
A fierce loud buzzing breez; their stings draw blood;
And drive the cattle gadding through the wood. 240
Seized with unusual pains, they loudly cry,
Tanagrus hastens thence; and leaves his channel dry.
This curse the jealous Juno did invent;
And first imployed for io's punishment.
To shun this ill, the cunning leach ordains 245
In summer's sultry heats (for then it reigns)
To feed the females, eere the sun arise,
Or late at night, when stars adorn the skies.
When she has calved, then set the dam aside;
And for the tender progeny provide. 250
Distinguish all betimes, with branding fire;
To note the tribe, the lineage, and the sire.
Whom to reserve for husband of the herd;
Or who shall be to sacrifice preferred;
Or whom thou shalt to turn thy glebe allow; 255
To harrow furrows, and sustain the plough:
The rest, for whom no lot is yet decreed,
May run in pastures, and at pleasure feed.
The calf, by nature and by genius made
To turn the glebe, breed to the rural Trade. 260
Set him betimes to school; and let him be
Instructed there in rules of husbandry:
While yet his youth is flexible and green;
Nor bad examples of the world has seen.
Early begin the stubborn child to break; 265
For his soft neck, a supple collar make
Of bending osiers; and (with time and care
Enured that easie servitude to bear)
Thy flattering method on the youth pursue:
Joined with his school-fellows, by two and two, 270
Perswade them first to lead an empty wheel,
That scarce the dust can raise; or they can feel:
In length of Time produce the labering yoke
And shining shares, that make the furrow smoke.
Eere the licentious youth be thus restrained, 275
Or moral precepts on their minds have gained;
Their wanton appetites not only feed
With delicates of leaves, and marshy weed,
But with thy sickle reap the rankest land:
And minister the blade, with bounteous hand. 280
Nor be with harmful parsimony won
To follow what our homely sires have done;
Who filled the pail with beestings of the cow:
But all her udder to the calf allow.
If to the warlike steed thy studies bend, 285
Or for the prize in chariots to contend;
Near Pisa's flood the rapid wheels to guide,
Or in olympian groves aloft to ride,
The generous labours of the courser, first
Must be with sight of arms and sounds of Trumpets nurst: 290
Inured the groaning axle-tree to bear;
And let him clashing whips in stables hear.
Sooth him with praise, and make him understand
The loud applauses of his master's hand:
This from his weaning, let him well be taught; 295
And then betimes in a soft snaffle wrought:
Before his tender joints with nerves are knit;
Guiltless of arms, and trembling at the bit.
But when to four full springs his years advance,
Teach him to run the round, with pride to prance; 300
And (rightly managed) equal time to beat;
To turn, to bound in measure; and curvet.
Let him, to this, with easie pains be brought:
And seem to labour, when he labours not.
Thus, formed for speed, he challenges the wind; 305
And leaves the Scythian arrow far behind:
He scours along the field, with loosened reins;
And treads so light, he scarcely prints the plains.
Like Boreas in his race, when rushing forth,
He sweeps the skies, and clears the cloudy north: 310
The waving harvest bends beneath his blast;
The forest shakes, the groves their honours cast;
He flies aloft, and with impetuous roar
Pursues the foaming surges to the shoar.
Thus o'er the Elean plains, thy well-breathed horse 315
Sustains the goring spurs, and wins the course.
Or, bred to belgian waggons, leads the way;
Untired at night, and chearful all the day.
When once he's broken, feed him full and high:
Indulge his growth, and his gaunt sides supply. 320
Before his Training, keep him poor and low;
For his stout stomach with his food will grow;
The pampered colt will discipline disdain,
Impatient of the lash, and restiff to the rein.
Wouedst thou their courage and their strength improve, 325
Too soon they must not feel the stings of love.
Whether the bull or courser be thy care,
Let him not leap the cow, nor mount the mare.
The youthful bull must wander in the wood;
Behind the mountain, or beyond the flood: 330
Or, in the stall at home his fodder find;
Far from the charms of that alluring kind.
With two fair eyes his mistress burns his breast;
He looks, and languishes, and leaves his rest;
Forsakes his food, and pining for the lass, 335
Is joiless of the grove, and spurns the growing grass.
The soft seducer, with enticing looks,
The bellowing rivals to the fight provokes.
A beauteous heifer in the woods is bred;
The stooping warriours, aiming head to head, 340
Engage their clashing horns; with dreadful sound
The forest rattles, and the rocks rebound.
They fence, they push, and pushing loudly roar;
Their dewlaps and their sides are bathed in gore.
Nor when the war is over, is it peace; 345
Nor will the vanquished bull his claim release:
But feeding in his breast his ancient fires,
And cursing fate, from his proud foe retires.
Driven from his native land, to foreign grounds,
He with a generous rage resents his wounds; 350
His ignominious flight, the victor's boast,
And more than both, the loves, which unrevenged he lost.
Often he turns his eyes, and, with a groan,
Surveys the pleasing kingdoms, once his own.
And therefore to repair his strength he tries: 355
Hardning his limbs with painful exercise,
And rough upon the flinty rock he lies.
On prickly leaves, and on sharp herbs he feeds,
Then to the prelude of a war proceeds.
His horns, yet sore, he tries against a tree: 360
And meditates his absent enemy.
He snuffs the wind, his heels the sand excite;
But, when he stands collected in his might,
He roars, and promises a more successful fight.
Then, to redeem his honour at a blow, 365
He moves his camp, to meet his careless foe.
Not with more madness, rolling from afar,
The spumy waves proclaim the watry war.
And mounting upwards, with a mighty roar,
March onwards, and insult the rocky shoar. 370
They mate the middle region with their height;
And fall no less, than with a mountain's weight;
The waters boil, and belching from below
Black sands, as from a forceful engine throw.
Thus every creature, and of every kind, 375
The secret joys of sweet coition find:
Not only man's imperial race; but they
That wing the liquid air; or swim the sea,
Or haunt the desert, rush into the flame:
For love is lord of all; and is in all the same. 380
'Tis with this rage, the mother lion stung,
Scours o'er the plain; regardless of her young:
Demanding rites of love; she sternly stalks;
And hunts her lover in his lonely walks.
'Tis then the shapeless bear his den forsakes; 385
In woods and fields a wild destruction makes.
Boars whet their Tusks; to battle Tygers move;
Enraged with hunger, more enraged with love.
Then wo to him, that in the desert land
Of lybia travels, o'er the burning sand. 390
The stallion snuffs the well-known scent afar;
And snorts and trembles for the distant mare:
Nor bits nor bridles can his rage restrain;
And rugged rocks are interposed in vain:
He makes his way o'er mountains, and contemns 395
Unruly Torrents, and unfoorded streams.
The bristled boar, who feels the pleasing wound,
New grinds his arming Tusks, and digs the ground.
The sleepy leacher shuts his little eyes;
About his churning chaps the frothy bubbles rise: 400
He rubs his sides against a tree; prepares
And hardens both his shoulders for the wars.
What did the youth, when love's unerring dart
Transfixt his liver; and inflamed his heart?
Alone, by night, his watry way he took; 405
About him, and above, the billows broke:
The sluces of the skie were open spread;
And rowling Thunder rattled o'er his head.
The raging Tempest called him back in vain;
And every boding omen of the main. 410
Nor could his kindred; nor the kindly force
Of weeping parents, change his fatal course.
No, not the dying maid who must deplore
His floating carcass on the Sestian shore.
I pass the wars that spotted linx's make 415
With their fierce rivals, for the females sake:
The howling wolves, the mastiffs amorous rage;
When even the fearsul stag dares for his hind engage.
But far above the rest, the furious mare,
Barred from the male, is frantick with despair. 420
For when her pouting vent declares her pain,
She tears the harness, and she rends the reyn;
For this; (when Venus gave them rage and power)
Their masters mangled members they devour;
Of love defrauded in their longing hour. 425
For love they force through Thickets of the wood,
They climb the steepy hills, and stem the flood.
When at the spring's approach their marrow burns,
(for with the spring their genial warmth returns)
The mares to cliffs of rugged rocks repair, 430
And with wide nostrils snuff the western air:
When (wondrous to relate) the parent wind,
Without the stallion, propagates the kind.
Then fired with amorous rage, they take their flight
Through plains, and mount the hills unequal height; 435
Nor to the north, nor to the rising sun,
Nor southward to the rainy regions run,
But boring to the west, and hovering there,
With gaping mouths, they draw prolifick air:
With which impregnate, from their groins they shed 440
A slimy juice, by false conception bred.
The shepherd knows it well; and calls by name
Hippomanes, to note the mother's flame.
This, gathered in the planetary hour,
With noxious weeds, and spelled with words of power 445
Dire stepdames in the magick bowl infuse;
And mix, for deadly draughts, the poysenous juice.
But time is lost, which never will renew,
While we too far the pleasing path pursue;
Surveying nature, with too nice a view. 450
Let this suffice for herds: our following care
Shall woolly flocks, and shaggy goats declare.
Nor can I doubt what oil I must bestow,
To raise my subject from a ground so low:
And the mean matter which my Theme affords, 455
To embellish with magnificence of words.
But the commanding muse my chariot guides;
Which o'er the dubious cliff securely rides:
And pleased I am, no beaten road to take:
But first the way to new discoveries make. 460
Now, sacred pales, in a lofty strain,
I sing the rural honours of thy reign.
First with assiduous care, from winter keep
Well foddered in the stalls, thy tender, sheep.
Then spread with straw, the bedding of thy fold; 465
With fern beneath, to fend the bitter cold.
That free from gouts thou may'st preserve thy care:
And clear from scabs, produced by freezing air.
Next let thy goats officiously be nursed;
And led to living streams; to quench their Thirst. 470
Feed them with winter-browse, and for their lair
A cot that opens to the south prepare:
Where basking in the sunshine they may lie,
And the short remnants of his heat enjoy.
This during winter's drizzly reign be done: 475
'Till the new ram receives the exalted sun:
For hairy goats of equal profit are
With woolly sheep, and ask an equal care.
'Tis true, the fleece, when drunk with Tyrian juice,
Is dearly sold; but not for needful use: 480
For the salacious goat increases more;
And twice as largely yields her milky store.
The still distended udders never fail;
But when they seem exhausted swell the pail.
Mean time the pastor shears their hoary beards; 485
And eases of their hair, the laden herds.
Their camelots, warm in Tents, the soldier hold;
And shield the shivering mariner from cold.
On shrubs they brouze, and on the bleaky Top
Of rugged hills, the thorny bramble crop. 490
Attended with their family they come
At night unasked, and mindful of their home;
And scarce their swelling bags the threshold overcome.
So much the more thy diligence bestow
In depth of winter, to defend the snow: 495
By how much less the tender helpless kind,
For their own ills, can fit provision find.
Then minister the browze, with bounteous hand;
And open let thy stacks all winter stand.
But when the western winds with vital power 500
Call forth the tender grass, and budding flower;
Then, at the last, produce in open air
Both flocks; and send them to their summer fare.
Before the sun, while Hesperus16 appears;
First let them sip from herbs the pearly tears 505
Of morning dews: and after break their fast
On green-sword ground; (a cool and grateful taste:)
But when the day's fourth hour has drawn the dews,
And the sun's sultry heat their thirst renews;
When creaking grashoppers on shrubs complain, 510
Then lead them to their watering Troughs again.
In summer's heat, some bending valley find,
Closed from the sun, but open to the wind:
Or seek some ancient oke, whose arms extend
In ample breadth, thy cattle to defend: 515
Or solitary grove, or gloomy glade:
To shield them with its venerable shade.
Once more to watering lead; and feed again
When the low sun is sinking to the main.
When rising Cynthia sheds her silver dews; 520
And the cool evening-breeze the meads renews:
When linnets fill the woods with tunesul sound,
And hollow shoars the halcyons voice rebound.
Why shoued my muse enlarge on Lybian swains;
Their scattered cottages, and ample plains? 525
Where oft the flocks, without a leader stray;
Or through continued deserts take their way;
And, feeding, add the length of night to day.
Whole months they wander, grazing as they go;
Nor folds, nor hospitable harbour know. 530
Such an extent of plains, so vast a space
Of wilds unknown, and of untasted grass
Allures their eyes: The shepherd last appears,
And with him all his patrimony bears:
His house and household gods! his trade of war, 535
His bow and quiver; and his trusty cur.
Thus, under heavy arms, the youth of rome
Their long laborious marches overcome;
Chearly their tedious Travels undergo:
And pitch their sudden camp before the foe. 540
Not so the Scythian shepherd tends his fold;
Nor he who bears in Thrace the bitter cold:
Nor he, who treads the bleak Meotian strand;
Or where proud Ister17 rolls his yellow sand.
Early they stall their flocks and herds; for there 545
No grass the fields, no leaves the forests wear.
The frozen earth lies buried there, below
A hilly heap, seven cubits deep in snow:
And all the west allies of stormy Boreas blow.
The sun from far, peeps with a sickly face; 550
Too weak the clouds, and mighty fogs to chace;
When up the skies, he shoots his rosie head;
Or in the ruddy ocean seeks his bed.
Swift rivers, are with sudden ice constrained;
And studded wheels are on its back sustained. 555
An hostry18 now for waggons; which before
Tall ships of burthen, on its bosom bore.
The brazen cauldrons, with the frost are flawed;
The garment, stiff with ice, at hearths is thawed.
With axes first they cleave the wine, and thence 560
By weight, the solid portions they dispence.
From locks uncombed, and from the frozen beard,
Long isicles depend, and crackling sounds are heard.
Meantime perpetual sleet, and driving snow,
Obscure the skies, and hang on herds below. 565
The starving cattle perish in their stalls,
Huge oxen stand enclosed in wintery walls
Of snow congealed; whole herds are buryed there
Of mighty stags, and scarce their horns appear.
The dexterous huntsman wounds not these afar, 570
With shafts, or darts, or makes a distant war
With dogs; or pitches Toils to stop their flight:
But close engages in unequal fight.
And while they strive in vain to make their way
Through hills of snow, and pitifully bray; 575
Assaults with dint of sword, or pointed spears,
And homeward, on his back, the joyful burthen bears.
The men to subterranean caves retire;
Secure from cold; and crowd the chearful fire:
With Trunks of elms and okes, the hearth they load, 580
Nor tempt the inclemency of heaven abroad.
Their jovial nights, in frollicks and in play
They pass, to drive the tedious hours away.
And their cold stomachs with crowned goblets cheer,
Of windy cider, and of barmy beer. 585
Such are the cold Rhipaean race; and such
The savage Scythian, and unwarlike Dutch.
Where skins of beasts, the rude barbarians wear;
The spoils of foxes, and the furry bear.
Is wool thy care? let not thy cattle go 590
Where bushes are, where burs and Thistles grow;
Nor in too rank a pasture let them feed:
Then of the purest white select thy breed.
Even though a snowy ram thou shalt behold,
Prefer him not in haste, for husband to thy fold. 595
But search his mouth; and if a swarthy Tongue
Is underneath his humid palate hung;
Reject him, lest he darken all the flock;
And substitute another from thy stock.
Twas thus with fleeces milky white (if we 600
May trust report,) pan god of arcady
Did bribe thee cynthia; nor didst thou disdain
When called in woody shades, to cure a lover's pain.
If milk be thy design; with plenteous hand
Bring clover-grass; and from the marshy land 605
Salt herbage for the foddering rack provide;
To fill their bags, and swell the milky Tide:
These raise their Thirst, and to the Taste restore
The savour of the salt, on which they fed before.
Some, when the kids their dams too deeply drain, 610
With gags and muzzles their soft mouths restrain.
Their morning milk, the peasants press at night:
Their evening meal, before the rising light
To market bear: or sparingly they steep
With seasening salt, and stored, for winter keep. 615
Nor last, forget thy faithful dogs: but feed
With fatening whey the mastiffs generous breed;
And spartan race: who for the folds relief
Will prosecute with cries the nightly Thief:
Repulse the prowling wolf, and hold at bay, 620
The mountain robbers, rushing to the prey.
With cries of hounds, thou may'st pursue the fear
Of flying hares, and chase the fallow deer;
Rouse from their desert dens, the brisled rage
Of boars, and beamy stags in Toils engage. 625
With smoke of burning cedar scent thy walls:
And fume with stinking galbanum thy stalls:
With that rank odour from thy dwelling place
To drive the viper's brood, and all the venomed race.
For often under stalls unmoved, they lye, 630
Obscure in shades, and shunning heavens broad eye.
And snakes, familiar, to the hearth succeed,
Disclose their eggs, and near the chimny breed.
Whether, to roofy houses they repair,
Or sun themselves abroad in open air, 635
In all abodes of pestilential kind,
To sheep and oxen, and the painful hind.
Take, shepherd take, a plant of stubborn oke;
And labour him with many a sturdy stroke:
Or with hard stones, demolish from a-far 640
His haughty crest, the seat of all the war.
Invade his hissing Throat, and winding spires;
'Till stretched in length, the unfolded foe retires.
He drags his Tail; and for his head provides:
And in some secret cranny slowly glides; 645
But leaves exposed to blows, his back and battered sides.
In fair Calabria's woods, a snake is bred,
With curling crest, and with advancing head:
Waving he rolls, and makes a winding Track;
His belly spotted, burnisht is his back: 650
While springs are broken, while the southern air
And dropping heavens, the moistened earth repair,
He lives on standing lakes, and trembling bogs,
And fills his maw with fish, or with loquacious frogs.
But when, in muddy pools, the water sinks; 655
And the chapt earth is furrowed o'er with chinks;
He leaves the fens, and leaps upon the ground;
And hissing, rowls his glaring eyes around.
With Thirst inflamed, impatient of the heats,
He rages in the fields, and wide destruction threats. 660
Oh let not sleep, my closing eyes invade,
In open plains, or in the secret shade,
When he, renewed in all the speckled pride
Of pompous youth, has cast his slough aside:
And in his summer livery rowls along: 665
Erect, and brandishing his forky Tongue,
Leaving his nest, and his imperfect young;
And thoughtless of his eggs, forgets to rear
The hopes of poison, for the foll'wing year.
The causes and the signs shall next be told, 670
Of every sickness that infects the fold.
A scabby tetter20 on their pelts will stick,
When the raw rain has pierced them to the quick:
Or searching frosts, have eaten through the skin,
Or burning isicles are lodged within: 675
Or when the fleece is shorn, if sweat remains
Unwashed, and sokes into their empty veins:
When their defenceless limbs, the brambles tear;
Short of their wool, and naked from the sheer.
Good shepherds after sheering, drench their sheep, 680
And their flocks father (forced from high to leap)
Swims down the stream, and plunges in the deep.
They oint their naked limbs with mothered oil;
Or from the founts where living sulphurs boil,
They mix a med'cine to foment their limbs; 685
With scum that on the molten silver swims.
Fat pitch, and black bitumen, add to these,
Besides, the waxen labour of the bees:
And hellebore, and squills deep rooted in the seas,
Receits abound; but searching all thy store, 690
The best is still at hand, to launch the sore:
And cut the head; for till the core be found,
The secret vice is fed, and gathers ground:
While making fruitless moan, the shepherd stands,
And, when the launching knife rechoirs his hands, 695
Vain help, with idle prayers from heaven demands.
Deep in their bones when feavers fix their seat,
And rack their limbs; and lick the vital heat;
The ready cure to cool the raging pain,
Is underneath the foot to breath a vein. 700
This remedy the Scythian shepherds found:
the inhabitants of Thracia's hilly ground,
And gelons use it; when for drink and food
They mix their cruddled milk with horses blood.
But where thou seest a single sheep remain 705
In shades aloof, or couched upon the plain;
Or listlesly to crop the tender grass;
Or late to lag behind, with truant pace;
Revenge the crime; and take the Traytor's head,
Eere in the faultless flock the dire contagion spread. 710
On winter seas we fewer storms behold,
Than foul diseases that infect the fold.
Nor do those ills, on single bodies prey;
But oftener bring the nation to decay;
And sweep the present stock, and future hope away. 715
A dire example of this Truth appears:
When, after such a length of rowling years,
We see the naked alps, and thin remains
Of scattered cotts, and yet unpeopled plains:
Once filled with grazing flocks, the shepherds happy reigns. 720
Here from the vicious air, and sickly skies,
A plague did on the dumb creation rise:
During the autumnal heats the infection grew,
Tame cattle, and the beasts of nature slew.
Poysening the standing lakes; and pools impure: 725
Nor was the foodful grass in fields secure.
Strange death! for when the thirsty fire had drunk
Their vital blood, and the dry nerves were shrunk;
When the contracted limbs were cramped, even then
A waterish humour swelled and oozed again: 730
Converting into bane the kindly juice,
Ordained by nature for a better use.
The victim ox, that was for altars prest,
Trimed with white ribbons, and with garlands drest,
Sunk of himself, without the gods command: 735
Preventing the slow sacrificer's hand.
Or, by the holy butcher, if he fell,
the inspected entrails, could no fates foretel.
Nor, laid on altars, did pure flames arise;
But clouds of smouldring smoke, forbad the sacrifice. 740
Scarcely the knife was reddened with his gore,
Or the black poyson stained the sandy floor.
The thriven calves in meads their food forsake,
And render their sweet souls before the plenteous rack.
The fawning dog runs mad; the wheasing swine 745
With coughs is chokeed; and labours from the chine:
The victor horse, forgetful of his food,
The palm renounces, and abhors the flood.
He paws the ground, and on his hanging ears
A doubtful sweat in clammy drops appears: 750
Parched is his hide, and rugged are his hairs.
Such are the symptoms of the young disease;
But in time's process, when his pains encrease,
He rolls his mournful eyes, he deeply groans
With patient sobbing, and with manly moans. 755
He heaves for breath: which, from his lungs supplyed,
And fetched from far, distends his laboring side.
To his rough palate, his dry Tongue succeeds;
And ropy gore, he from his nostrils bleeds.
A drench of wine has with success been used; 760
And through a horn, the generous juice infused:
Which timely taken oped his closing jaws;
But, if too late, the patientos death did cause.
For the too vigorous dose, too fiercely wrought;
And added fury to the strength it brought. 765
Recruited into rage, he grinds his teeth
In his own flesh, and feeds approaching death.
Ye gods, to better fate, good men dispose;
And turn that impious errour on our foes!
The steer, who to the yoke was bred to bow, 770
(studious of Tillage; and the crooked plough)
Falls down and dies; and dying spews a flood
Of foamy madness, mixed with clotted blood.
The clown, who cursing providence repines,
His mournful fellow from the Team disjoyns: 775
With many a groan, forsakes his fruitless care;
And in the unfinished furrow, leaves the share.
The pineing steer, no shades of lofty woods,
Nor flowery meads can ease; nor crystal floods
rolled from the rock: his flabby flanks decrease; 780
His eyes are settled in a stupid peace.
His bulk too weighty for his Thighs is grown;
And his unweildy neck, hangs drooping down.
Now what avails his well-deserving Toil
To turn the glebe; or smooth the rugged soil! 785
And yet he never supt in solemn state,
Nor undigested feasts did urge his fate;
Nor day, to night, luxuriously did joyn;
Nor surfeited on rich campanian wine.
Simple his beverage; homely was his food; 790
The wholsom herbage, and the running flood:
No dreadful dreams awaked him with affright;
His pains by day, secured his rest by night.
'Twas then that buffalo's, ill paired, were seen
To draw the carr of Jove's imperial queen 795
For want of oxen: and the labering swain
Scratched with a rake, a furrow for his grain:
And covered, with his hand, the shallow seed again.
He yokes himself, and up the hilly height,
With his own shoulders, draws the waggon's weight. 800
The nightly wolf, that round the enclosure prolled
To leap the fence; now plots not on the fold.
Tamed with a sharper pain. The fearful doe
And flying stag, amidst the grey-hounds go:
And round the dwellings roam of man, their fiercer foe. 805
The scaly nations of the sea profound,
Like shipwrecked carcasses are driven aground:
And mighty phocae, never seen before
In shallow streams, are stranded on the shore.
The viper dead, within her hole is found: 810
Defenceless was the shelter of the ground.
The water-snake, whom fish and paddocks fed,
With staring scales lies poysoned in his bed:
To birds their native heavens contagious prove,
From clouds they fall, and leave their souls above. 815
Besides, to change their pasture 'tis in vain:
Or trust to physick; physick is their bane.
The learned leaches in despair depart:
And shake their heads, desponding of their art.
Tisiphone, let loose from under ground, 820
Majestically pale, now treads the round:
Before her drives diseases, and affright;
And every moment rises to the sight:
Aspiring to the skies; encroaching on the light.
The rivers and their banks, and hills around, 825
With lowings, and with dying bleats resound.
At length, she strikes an universal blow;
To death at once whole herds of cattle go:
Sheep, oxen, horses fall; and, heaped on high,
The differing species in confusion lie. 830
'Till warned by frequent ills, the way they found,
To lodge their loathsom carrion underground.
For, useless to the currier were their hides:
Nor could their tainted flesh with ocean Tides
Be freed from filth; nor could Vulcanian flame 835
The stench abolish; or the savour tame.
Nor safely could they shear their fleecy store;
(made drunk with poysenous juice, and stiff with gore:)
Or touch the web: but if the vest they wear,
Red blisters rising on their paps appear, 840
And flaming carbuncles; and noisom sweat,
And clammy dews, that loathsom lice beget:
'Till the slow creeping evil eats his way,
Consumes the parching limbs; and makes the life his prey.
The Fourth Book of the Georgics.
Virgil has taken care to raise the subject of each georgic: in the first he has only
dead matter on which to work. in the second he just steps on the world Of life,
and describes that degree of it which is to be found in vegetables. in the third he
advances to animals. and in the last, singles out the bee, which May be reckoned
the most sagacious of them, for his subject. In this georgic he shews us what
station is most proper for the bees, and when they begin to gather honey: how to
call them home when they swarm; and how to Part them when they are engaged in
battle. from hence he takes occasion to discover their different kinds; and, after
an excursion relates their prudent and Politick admini?stration of affairs and the
several diseases that often rage in their hives, with the proper symptoms and
remedies of each disease. in the Last place he lays down a method of repairing
their kind, supposing their whole breed lost; and gives at large the history of its
The gifts of heaven my foll'wing song pursues,
Aerial honey, and ambrosial dews.
Maecenas, read this other part, that sings
Fmbattleed sqadrons and adventerous kings:
A mighty pomp, tho' made of little Things. 5
Their arms, their arts, their manners I disclose,
And how they war, and whence the people rose:
Slight is the subject, but the praise not small,
If heaven assist, and Phoebus hear my call.
First, for thy bees a quiet station find, 10
And lodge them under covert of the wind:
For winds, when homeward they return, will drive
The loaded carriers from their evening hive.
Far from the cows and goats insulting crew,
That trample down the flowers, and brush the dew: 15
The painted lizard, and the birds of prey,
Foes of the frugal kind, be far away.
The Titmouse, and the peckers hungry brood,
And Procne, with her bosom stained in blood:
These rob the trading citizens, and bear 20
The trembling captives through the liquid air;
And for their callow young a cruel feast prepare.
But near a living stream their mansion place,
Edged round with moss, and tufts of matted grass:
And plant (the winds impetuous rage to stop,) 25
Wild olive trees, or palms, before the busy shop:
That when the youthful prince, with loud allarm,
Calls out the venturous colony to swarm;
When first their way through yielding air they wing,
New to the pleasures of their native spring; 30
The banks of brooks may make a cool retreat
For the raw soldiers from the scalding heat:
And neighbering trees, with friendly shade invite
The Troops unused to long laborious flight.
Then o'er the running stream, or standing lake, 35
A passage for thy weary people make;
With osier floats the standing water strew;
Of massy stones make bridges, if it flow:
That basking in the sun thy bees may lye,
And resting there, their flaggy pinions dry: 40
When late returning home, the laden host,
By raging winds is wrecked upon the coast.
Wild thyme and savory set around their cell,
Sweet to the Taste, and fragrant to the smell:
Set rows of rosemary with flowering stem, 45
And let the purple violets drink the stream.
Whether thou build the palace of thy bees
With twisted osiers, or with barks of trees;
Make but a narrow mouth: for as the cold
Congeals into a lump the liquid gold; 50
So 'tis again dissolved by summer's heat,
And the sweet labours both extreams defeat.
And therefore, not in vain, the industrious kind
With dawby wax and flowers the chinks have lined.
And, with their stores of gathered glue, contrive 55
To stop the vents, and crannies of their hive.
Not birdlime, or Idean pitch produce
A more tenacious mass of clammy juice.
Nor bees are lodged in hives alone, but found
In chambers of their own, beneath the ground: 60
Their vaulted roofs are hung in pumices,
And in the rotten Trunks of hollow trees.
But plaster thou the chinky hives with clay,
And leafy branches o'er their lodgings lay:
Nor place them where too deep a water flows, 65
Or where the yew their poisenous neighbour grows:
Nor roast red crabs to offend the niceness of their nose.
Nor near the steaming stench of muddy ground;
Nor hollow rocks that render back the sound,
And doubled images of voice rebound. 70
For what remains, when golden suns appear,
And under earth have driven the winter year:
The winged nation wanders through the skies,
And o'er the plains, and shady forrest flies:
Then stooping on the meads and leafy bowers; 75
They skim the floods, and sip the purple flowers.
Exalted hence, and drunk with secret joy,
Their young succession all their cares employ:
They breed, they brood, instruct and educate,
And make provision for the future state: 80
They work their waxen lodgings in their hives,
And labour honey to sustain their lives.
But when thou seest a swarming cloud arise,
That sweeps aloft, and darkens all the skies:
The motions of their hasty flight attend; 85
And know to floods, or woods, their airy march they bend.
Then melfoil21 beat, and honey-suckles pound,
With these alluring savours strew the ground;
And mix with tinkling brass, the cymbals droning sound.
Straight to their ancient cells, recalled from air, 90
The reconciled deserters will repair.
But if intestine broils alarm the hive,
(for two pretenders oft for empire strive)
The vulgar in divided factions jar;
And murmuring sounds proclaim the civil war. 95
Inflamed with ire, and trembling with disdain,
Scarce can their limbs, their mighty souls contain.
With shouts, the cowards courage they excite,
And martial clangors call them out to fight:
With hoarse allarms the hollow camp rebounds, 100
That imitates the Trumpets angry sounds:
Then to their common standard they repair;
The nimble horsemen scour the fields of air.
In form of battle drawn, they issue forth,
And every knight is proud to prove his worth. 105
Prest for their country's honour, and their king's,
On their sharp beaks they whet their pointed stings;
And exercise their arms, and tremble with their wings.
Full in the midst, the haughty monarchs ride,
The trusty guards come up, and close the side; 110
With shouts the daring foe to battle is defyed.
Thus in the season of unclouded spring,
To war they follow their undaunted king:
Crowd through their gates, and in the fields of light,
The shocking squadrons meet in mortal fight: 115
Headlong they fall from high, and wounded wound,
And heaps of slaughtered soldiers bite the ground.
Hard hailstones lye not thicker on the plain;
Nor shaken okes such showers of acorns rain.
With gorgeous wings the marks of soveraign sway, 120
The two contending princes make their way;
Intrepid through the midst of danger go;
Their friends encourage, and amaze the foe.
With mighty souls in narrow bodies prest,
They challenge, and encounter breast to breast; 125
So fixed on fame, unknowing how to fly,
And obstinately bent to win or die;
That long the doubtful combat they maintain,
Till one prevails (for one can only reign.)
Yet all those dreadful deeds, this deadly fray, 130
A cast of scattered dust will soon allay,
And undecided leave the fortune of the day.
When both the chiefs are sundered from the fight,
Then to the lawful king restore his right.
And let the wastful prodigal be slain, 135
That he, who best deserves, alone may reign.
With ease distinguished is the regal race,
One monarch wears an honest open face;
Large are his limbs, and godlike to behold,
His royal body shines with specks of gold, 140
And ruddy scales; for empire he designed,
Is better born, and of a nobler kind.
That other looks like nature in disgrace,
Gaunt are his sides, and sullen is his face:
And like their grizly prince appears his gloomy race: 145
Grim, ghastly, rugged, like a thirsty train
That long have traveled through a desert plain,
And spit from their dry chaps the gathered dust again.
The better brood, unlike the bastard crew,
Are marked with royal streaks of shining hue; 150
Glittering and ardent, though in body less:
From these at pointed seasons hope to press
Huge heavy honey-combs, of golden juice,
Not only sweet, but pure, and fit for use:
To allay the strength and hardness of the wine, 155
And with old Bacchus, new metheglin22 join.
But, when the swarms are eager of their play,
And loathe their empty hives, and idly stray,
Restrain the wanton fugitives, and take
A timely care to bring the Truants back. 160
The Task is easy: but to clip the wings
Of their high-flying arbitrary kings:
At their command, the people swarm away;
Confine the Tyrant, and the slaves will stay.
Sweet gardens, full of saffron flowers, invite 165
The wandring gluttons, and retard their flight.
Besides, the god obscene, who frights away,
With his lath sword, the Thiefs and birds of prey.
With his own hand, the guardian of the bees,
For slips of pines, may search the mountain trees: 170
And with wild thyme and savory, plant the plain,
'Till his hard horny fingers ake with pain:
And deck with fruitful trees the fields around,
And with refreshing waters drench the ground.
Now, did I not so near my labours end, 175
Strike sail, and hastening to the harbour tend;
My song to flowery gardens might extend.
To teach the vegetable arts, to sing
The Paestan roses, and their double spring:
How succory drinks the running streams, and how 180
Green beds of parsley near the river grow;
How cucumers along the surface creep,
With crooked bodies, and with bellies deep.
The late narcissus, and the winding trail
Of bears-foot, myrtles green, and ivy pale. 185
For where with stately towers Tarentum stands,
And deep Galesus sokes the yellow sands,
I chanced an old Corycian swain to know,
Lord of few acres, and those barren too;
Unfit for sheep or vines, and more unfit to sow: 190
Yet laboring well his little spot of ground,
Some scattering potherbs here and there he found:
Which cultivated with his daily care,
And bruised with vervain, were his frugal fare.
Sometimes white lilies did their leaves afford, 195
With wholsom poppy-flowers, to mend his homely board:
For late returning home he suped at ease,
And wisely deemed the wealth of monarchs less:
The little of his own, because his own, did please.
To quit his care, he gathered first of all 200
In spring the roses, apples in the fall:
And when cold winter split the rocks in twain,
And ice the running rivers did restrain,
He stripped the bears-foot of its leafy growth;
And, calling western winds, accused the spring of sloth. 205
He therefore first among the swains was found,
To reap the product of his laboured ground,
And squeeze the combs with golden liquor crowned.
His limes were first in flowers, his lofty pines,
With friendly shade, secured his tender vines. 210
For every bloom his trees in spring afford,
An autumn apple was by tale restored.
He knew to rank his elms in even rows;
For fruit the grafted pear-tree to dispose:
And tame to plums, the sourness of the sloes. 215
With spreading planes he made a cool retreat,
To shade good fellows from the summer's heat.
But streightened in my space, I must forsake
This Task; for others afterwards to take.
Describe we next the nature of the bees, 220
Bestowed by Jove for secret services:
When, by the tinkling sound of timbrels23 led,
The king of heaven in cretan caves they fed.
Of all the race of animals, alone
The bees have common cities of their own: 225
And common sons, beneath one law they live,
And with one common stock their Traffick drive.
Each has a certain home, a several stall:
All is the states, the state provides for all.
Mindful of coming cold, they share the pain: 230
And hoard, for winter's use, the summer's gain.
Some o'er the publick magazines preside,
And some are sent new forrage to provide:
These drudge in fields abroad, and those at home
Lay deep foundations for the laboured comb, 235
With dew, narcissus leaves, and clammy gum.
To pitch the waxen flooring some contrive:
Some nurse the future nation of the hive:
Sweet honey some condense, some purge the grout;
The rest, in cells apart, the liquid nectar shut. 240
All, with united force, combine to drive
The lazy drones from the laborious hive.
With envy stung, they view each others deeds:
With diligence the fragrant work proceeds.
As when the cyclops, at the almighty nod, 245
New Thunder hasten for their angry god:
Subdued in fire the stubborn mettal lyes,
One brawny smith the puffing bellows plyes;
And draws, and blows reciprocating air:
Others to quench the hissing mass prepare: 250
With lifted arms they order every blow,
And chime their sounding hammers in a row;
With strokes of anvils aetna groans below.
Strongly they strike, huge flakes of flames expire,
With Tongs they turn the steel, and vex it in the fire. 255
If little things with great we may compare,
Such are the bees, and such their native care:
Studious of honey, each in his degree,
The youthful swain, the grave experienced bee:
That in the field; this in affairs of state, 260
Employed at home, abides within the gate:
To fortify the combs, to build the wall,
To prop the ruins lest the fabrick fall:
But late at night, with weary pinions come
The labroring youth, and heavy laden home. 265
Plains, meads, and orchards all the day he plies,
The gleans of yellow thyme distend his thighs:
He spoils the saffron flowers, he sips the blues
Of violets, wilding blooms, and willow dews.
Their toil is common, common is their sleep; 270
They shake their wings when morn begins to peep;
Rush through the city gates without delay,
Nor ends their work, but with declining day:
Then having spent the last remains of light,
They give thir bodies due repose at night: 275
When hollow murmurs of their evening bells,
Dismiss the sleepy swains, and toll them to their cells.
When once in beds their weary limbs they steep,
No buzzing sounds disturb thir golden sleep.
'Tis sacred silence all. nor dare they stray, 280
When rain is promised, or a stormy day:
But near the city walls their watring take,
Nor forage far, but short excursions make.
And as when empty barks on billows float,
With sandy ballast sailors trim the boat; 285
So bees bear gravel stones, whose poising weight
Steers through the whistling winds their steddy flight.
But (what's more strange) their modest appetites,
Averse from venus, fly the nuptial rites.
No lust enervates their heroic mind, 290
Nor wasts their strength on wanton woman-kind.
But in their mouths reside their genial powers,
They gather children from the leaves and flowers.
Thus make they kings to fill the regal seat;
And thus their little citizens create: 295
And waxen cities build, and palaces of state.
And oft on rocks their tender wings they tear,
And sink beneath the burthens which they bear.
Such rage of honey in their bosom beats:
And such a Zeal they have for flowery sweets. 300
Thus tho' the race of life they quickly run;
Which in the space of seven short years is done,
the immortal line in sure succession reigns,
The fortune of the family remains:
And grandsires grandsons the long list contains. 305
Besides, not Egypt, India, Media more
With servile awe, their idol king adore:
While he survives, in concord and content
The commons live, by no divisions rent;
But the great monarch's death dissolves the government. 310
All goes to ruin, they themselves contrive
To rob the honey, and subvert the hive.
The king presides, his subjects Toil surveys;
The servile rout their careful Caesar praise:
Him they extol, they worship him alone, 315
They crowd his levees, and support his Throne:
They raise him on their shoulders with a shout:
And when their soveraigns quarrel calls them out,
His foes to mortal combat they defy,
And think it honour at his feet to die. 320
Induced by such examples, some have taught
That bees have portions of ethereal thought--
Endued with particles of heavenly fires:
For god the whole created mass inspires;
through heaven, and earth, and oceans depth he throws 325
His influence round, and kindles as he goes.
Hence flocks, and herds, and men, and beasts, and fowls
With breath are quickened, and attract their souls.
Hence take the forms his prescience did ordain,
And into him at length resolve again. 330
No room is left for death, they mount the sky,
And to their own congenial planets fly.
Now when thou hast decreed to seize their stores,
And by prerogative to break their doors:
With sprinkled water first the city choke, 335
And then pursue the citizens with smoke.
Two honey harvests fall in every year:
First, when the pleasing Pleiades23 appear,
And springing upward spurn the briny seas:
Again, when their affrighted choir surveys 340
The watry scorpion mend his pace behind,
With a black Train of storms, and winter wind;
They plunge into the deep, and safe protection find.
Prone to revenge, the bees, a wrathful race,
When once provoked assault the agressor's face: 345
And through the purple veins a passage find;
There fix their stings, and leave their souls behind.
But, if a pinching winter thou foresee,
And woud'st preserve thy famished family;
With fragant thyme the city fumigate, 350
And break the waxen walls to save the state.
For lurking lizards often lodge, by stealth,
Within the suburbs, and purloin their wealth.
And worms that shun the light, a dark retreat
Have found in combs, and undermined the seat. 355
Or lazy drones, without their share of pain;
In winter quarters free, devour the gain:
Or wasps infest the camp with loud alarms,
And mix in battle with unequal arms:
Or secret moths are there in silence fed; 360
Or spiders in the vault, their snary webs have spred.
The more oppressed by foes, or famine pined;
The more increase thy care to save the sinking kind.
With greens and flowers recruit their empty hives,
And seek fresh forage to sustain their lives. 365
But since they share with us one common fate,
In health and sickness, and in Turns of state;
Observe the symptoms when they fall away,
And languish with insensible decay.
They change their hue, with haggered eyes they stare, 370
Lean are their looks, and shagged is their hair:
And crowds of dead, that never must return
To their loved hives, in decent pomp are born:
Their friends attend the herse, the next relations mourn.
The sick, for air before the portal gasp, 375
Their feeble legs within each other clasp.
Or idle in their empty hives remain,
Benumbed with cold, and listless of their gain.
Soft whispers then, and broken sounds are heard,
As when the woods by gentle winds are stired. 380
Such stifled noise as the close furnace hides,
Or dying murmurs of departing tides.
This when thou seest, galbanean24 odours use,
And honey in the sickly hive infuse.
Through reeden pipes convey the golden flood, 385
To invite the people to their wonted food.
Mix it with thickened juice of sodden wines,
And raisins from the grapes of Psythian25 vines:
To these add pounded galls, and roses dry,
And with Cecropian thyme, strong scented centaury.26 390
A flower there is that grows in meadow ground,
Amellus called, and easy to be found;
For from one root the rising stem bestows
A wood of leaves, and violet-purple boughs:
The flower it self is glorious to behold, 395
And shines on altars like refulgent gold:
Sharp to the Taste, by shepherds near the stream
Of mella found, and thence they gave the name.
Boil this restoring root in generous wine,
And set beside the door, the sickly stock to dine. 400
But if the labering kind be wholly lost,
And not to be retrieved with care or cost;
'Tis time to touch the precepts of an art,
the arcadian master did of old impart:
And how he stocked his empty hives again; 405
Renewed with putrid gore of oxen slain.
An ancient legend I prepare to sing,
And upward follow fame's immortal spring.
For where with seven-fold horns mysterious Nile
Surrounds the skirts of Egypt's fruitful isle, 410
And where in pomp the sun-burnt people ride
On painted barges, o'er the teeming tide,
Which pouring down from Ethiopian lands,
Makes green the soil with slime, and black prolific sands;
That length of region, and large tract of ground, 415
In this one art a sure relief have found.
First, in a place, by nature closs, they build
A narrow flooring, guttered, walled, and tiled.
In this, four windows are contrived, that strike
To the four winds opposed, their beams oblique. 420
A steer of two years old they take, whose head
Now first with burnished horns begins to spread:
They stop his nostrils, while he strives in vain
To breath free air, and struggles with his pain.
Knocked down, he dies: his bowels bruised within, 425
Betray no wound on his unbroken skin.
Extended thus, in this obscene abode,
They leave the beast; but first sweet flowers are strowed
Beneath his body, broken boughs and thyme,
And pleasing cassia just renewed in prime. 430
This must be done, eere spring makes equal day,
When western winds on curling waters play:
Eere painted meads produce their flowery crops,
Or swallows twitter on the chimney tops.
The tainted blood, in this close prison pent, 435
Begins to boil and through the bones ferment.
Then, wondrous to behold, new creatures rise,
A moving mass at first, and short of thighs;
'Till shooting out with legs, and imped with wings,
The grubs proceed to bees with pointed stings: 440
And more and more affecting air, they try
Their tender pinions, and begin to fly:
At length, like summer storms from spreading clouds,
That burst at once, and pour impetuous floods;
Or flights of arrows from the Parthian bows, 445
When from afar they gall embattleed foes;
With such a tempest through the skies they steer;
And such a form the winged squadrons bear.
What god, o muse! this useful science taught?
Or by what man's experience was it brought? 450
Sad Aristaeus from fair Tempe fled,
His bees with famine, or diseases dead:
On Peneus's banks he stood, and near his holy head.
And while his falling tears the stream supplied,
Thus mourning, to his mother goddess cried. 455
"Mother Cyrene, mother, whose abode
Is in the depth of this immortal flood:
What boots it, that from Phoebus's loins I spring,
The third by him and thee, from heavens high king?
O! where is all thy boasted pity gone, 460
And promise of the skies to thy deluded son?
Why didst thou me, unhappy me, create?
Odious to gods, and born to bitter fate.
Whom scarce my sheep, and scarce my painful plough,
The needful aids of human life allow; 465
So wretched is thy son, so hard a mother thou.
Proceed, inhuman parent in thy scorn;
Root up my trees, with blites destroy my corn;
My vineyards ruin, and my sheepfolds burn.
Let loose thy rage, let all thy spite be shown, 470
Since thus thou hatest the praises of thy son."
But from her mossy bower below the ground,
His careful mother heard the plaintive sound;
Encompassed with her sea-green sisters round.
One common work they plyed: their distaffs full 475
With carded locks of blue Milesian wool.
Spio with Drymo brown, and Xanthe fair,
And sweet Phyllodoce with long disheveled hair:
Cydippe with Lycorias, one a maid,
And one that once had called lucina's aid. 480
Clio and Beroe, from one father both,
Both girt with gold, and clad in particoloured cloth.
Opis the meek, and Deiopeia proud;
Nisaea softly, with Ligaea loud;
Thalia joyous, Ephyre the sad, 485
And Arethusa once Diana's maid,
But now, her quiver left, to love betrayed.
To these, Clymene the sweet Theft declares,
Of Mars and Vulcans unavailing cares:
And all the rapes of gods, and every love, 490
From ancient Chaos down to youthful Jove.
Thus while she sings, the sisters turn the wheel,
Empty the wooly rock, and fill the reel.
A mournful sound, again the mother hears;
Again the mournful sound invades the sister's ears: 495
Starting at once from their green seats, they rise;
Fear in their heart, amazement in their eyes.
But Arethusa leaping from her bed,
First lifts above the waves her beauteous head;
And, crying from afar, thus to Cyrene said. 500
O sister! not with causeless fear possest,
No stranger voice disturbs thy tender breast.
'Tis Aristeus, 'tis thy darling son,
Who to his careless mother makes his moan.
Near his paternal stream he sadly stands, 505
With down-cast eyes, wet cheeks, and folded hands:
Upbraiding heaven from whence his lineage came,
And cruel calls the gods, and cruel thee, by name.
Cyrene moved with love, and seized with fear,
Cries out, "Conduct my son, conduct him here: 510
'Tis lawful for the youth, derived from gods,
To view the secrets of our deep abodes.
At once she waved her hand on either side,
At once the ranks of swelling streams divide.
Two rising heaps of liquid crystal stand, 515
And leave a space betwixt, of empty sand.
Thus safe received, the downward track he treads,
Which to his mother's watry palace leads.
With wondering eyes he views the secret store
Of lakes, that pent in hollow caverns, roar. 520
He hears the crackling sound of coral woods,
And sees the secret source of subterranean floods.
And where, distinguished in their several cells,
The fount of Phasis; and of Lycus dwells;
Where swift Enipeus in his bed appears, 525
And Tiber his majestick forehead rears.
Whence AnIo flows, and Hypanis, profound,
Breaks through the opposing rocks with raging sound.
Where Po first issues from his dark abodes,
And, awful in his cradle, rules the floods. 530
Two golden horns on his large front he wears,
And his grim face a bull's resemblance bears.
With rapid course he seeks the sacred main,
And fattens, as he runs, the fruitful plain.
Now, to the court arrived, the admiring son 535
Beholds the vaulted roofs of pory stone;
Now to his mother goddess tells his grief,
Which she with pity hears, and promises relief.
the officious nymphs, attending in a ring,
With waters drawn from their perpetual spring, 540
From earthly dregs his body purify,
And rub his temples, with fine towels, dry:
Then load the tables with a liberal feast,
And honour with full bowls their friendly guest.
The sacred altars are involved in smoke, 545
And the bright choir their kindred gods invoke.
Two bowls the mother fills with Lydian wine;
Then thus, let these be poured, with rites divine,
To the great authors of our watery line.
To father ocean, this; and this, she said, 550
Be to the nymphs his sacred sisters paid,
Who rule the watery plains, and hold the woodland shade.
She sprinkled thrice, with wine, the vestal fire,
Thrice to the vaulted roof the flames aspire.
Raised with so blest an omen, she begun, 555
With words like these, to chear her drooping son.
"In the Carpathian bottom makes abode
The shepherd of the seas, a prophet and a god;
High o'er the main in watery pomp he rides,
His azure car and finny coursers guides: 560
Proteus his name: to his Pallenian port,
I see from far the weary god resort.
Him, not alone, we river gods adore,
But aged Nereus hearkens to his lore.
With sure foresight, and with unerring doom, 565
He sees what is, and was, and is to come.
This Neptune gave him, when he gave to keep
His scaly flocks, that graze the watery deep.
Implore his aid, for proteus onely knows
The secret cause, and cure of all thy woes. 570
But first the wily wizard must be caught,
For unconstrained he nothing tells for naught;
Nor is with prayers, or bribes, or flattery bought.
Surprise him first, and with hard fetters bind;
Then all his frauds will vanish into wind. 575
I will my self conduct thee on thy way,
When next the southing sun inflames the day:
When the dry herbage thirsts for dews in vain,
And sheep, in shades, avoid the parching plain.
Then will I lead thee to his secret seat; 580
When weary with his Toil, and scorched with heat,
The wayward sire frequents his cool retreat.
His eyes with heavy slumber overcast;
With force invade his limbs, and bind him fast:
Thus surely bound, yet be not over bold, 585
The slippery god will try to loose his hold:
And various forms assume, to cheat thy sight;
And with vain images of beasts affright.
With foamy Tusks he seems a bristly boar,
Or imitates the lion's angry roar; 590
Breaks out in crackling flames to shun thy snares,
A dragon hisses, or a Tyger stares:
Or with a wile, thy caution to betray,
In fleeting streams attempts to slide away.
But thou, the more he varies forms, beware 595
To strain his fetters with a stricter care:
'Till tiring all his arts, he turns again
To his true shape, in which he first was seen."
This said, with nectar she her son anoints;
Infusing vigour through his mortal joynts: 600
Down from his head the liquid odours ran;
He breathed of heaven, and looked above a man.
Within a mountain's hollow womb, there lies
A large recess, concealed from human eyes;
Where heaps of billows, driven by wind and Tide, 605
In form of war, their watery ranks divide;
And there, like centries set, without the mouth abide:
A station safe for ships, when Tempests roar,
A silent harbour, and a covered shoar.
Secure within resides the various god, 610
And draws a rock upon his dark abode.
Hether with silent steps, secure from sight,
The goddess guides her son, and turns him from the light:
Her self, involved in clouds, precipitates her flight.
'Twas noon; the sultry dog-star from the sky 615
Scorched Indian swains, the rivelled grass was dry;
The sun with flaming arrows pierced the flood,
And, darting to the bottom, baked the mud:
When weary proteus, from the briny waves,
Retired for shelter to his wonted caves: 620
His finny flocks about their shepherd play,
And rowling round him, spirt the bitter sea.
Unweildily they wallow first in ooze,
Then in the shady covert seek repose.
Himself their herdsman, on the middle mount, 625
Takes of his mustered flocks a just account.
So, seated on a rock, a shepherd's groom
Surveys his evening flocks returning home:
When lowing calves, and bleating lambs, from far,
Provoke the prolling wolf to nightly war. 630
The occasion offers, and the youth complies:
For scarce the weary god had closed his eyes;
When rushing on, with shouts, he binds in chains
The drowsy prophet, and his limbs constrains.
He, not unmindful of his usual art, 635
First in dissembled fire attempts to part:
Then roaring beasts, and running streams he tryes,
And wearies all his miracles of lies:
But having shifted every form to scape,
Convinced of conquest, he resumed his shape: 640
And thus, at length, in human accent spoke:
"Audacious youth, what madness could provoke
A mortal man to invade a sleeping god?
What business brought thee to my dark abode?"
To this, the audacious youth: "Thou know'st full well 645
My name, and business, god, nor need I tell:
No man can Proteus cheat; but Proteus leave
Thy fraudful arts, and do not thou deceive.
Foll'wing the gods command, I come to implore
Thy help, my perished people to restore." 650
The seer, who could not yet his wrath asswage,
Rowled his green eyes, that sparkled with his rage;
And gnashed his Teeth, and cried, no vulgar god
Pursues thy crimes, nor with a common rod.
Thy great misdeeds have met a due reward, 655
And Orpheus's dying prayers at length are heard.
For crimes, not his, the lover lost his life,
And at thy hands requires his murdered wife:
Nor (if the fates assist not) canst thou scape
The just revenge of that intended rape. 660
To shun thy lawless lust, the dying bride,
Unwary, took along the river's side:
Nor, at her heels perceived the deadly snake,
That kept the bank, in covert of the brake.
But all her fellow nymphs the mountains tear 665
With loud laments, and break the yielding air:
The realms of Mars remurmured all around,
And echoes to the Athenian shores rebound.
The unhappy husband, husband now no more,
Did on his tuneful harp his loss deplore, 670
And sought, his mournful mind with musick to restore.
On thee, dear wife, in deserts all alone,
He called, sighed, sung, his griefs with day begun,
Nor were they finished with the setting sun.
Even to the dark dominions of the night, 675
He took his way, through forrests void of light:
And dared amidst the trembling ghosts to sing,
And stood before the inexorable king.
the infernal Troops like passing shadows glide,
And, listening, crowd the sweet musician's side-- 680
(Not flocks of birds when driven by storms, or night,
Stretch to the forest with so thick a flight) --
Men, matrons, children, and the unmarryed maid,
The mighty heroes more majestic shade;
And youths on funeral piles before their parents laid. 685
All these Cocytus bounds with squalid reeds,
With muddy ditches, and with deadly weeds:
And baleful Styx encompasses around,
With nine slow circling streams, the unhappy ground.
Even from the depths of hell the damned advance, 690
the infernal mansions nodding seem to dance;
The gaping three-mouthed dog forgets to snarl,
The Furies harken, and their snakes uncurl:
Ixion seems no more his pains to feel,
But leans attentive on his standing wheel. 695
All dangers past, at length the lovely bride,
In safety goes, with her melodious guide;
Longing the common light again to share,
And draw the vital breath of upper air:
He first, and close behind him followed she, 700
For such was Proserpine's severe decree.
When strong desires the impatient youth invade;
By little caution and much love betrayed:
A fault which easy pardon might receive,
Were lovers judges, or could hell forgive. 705
For near the confines of etherial light,
And longing for the glimmering of a sight,
the unwary lover cast his eyes behind,
Forgetful of the law, nor master of his mind.
Straight all his hopes exhaled in empty smoke; 710
And his long Toils were forfeit for a look.
Three flashes of blue lightening gave the sign
Of covenants broke, three peals of Thunder joyn.
Then thus the bride: "What fury seized on thee,
Unhappy man! to lose thy self and me? 715
Dragged back again by cruel Destinies,
An iron slumber shuts my swimming eyes.
And now farewel, involved in shades of night,
For ever I am ravished from thy sight.
In vain I reach my feeble hands, to joyn 720
In sweet embraces; ah! no longer thine!"
She said, and from his eyes the fleeting fair
Retired like subtile smoke dissolved in air;
And left her hopeless lover in despair.
In vain, with folding arms, the youth assayed 725
To stop her flight, and strain the flying shade:
He prays, he raves, all means in vain he tries,
With rage inflamed, astonished with surprise;
But she returned no more, to bless his longing eyes.
Nor would the infernal ferry-man once more 730
Be bribed, to waft him to the farther shore.
What should he do, who twice had lost his love?
What notes invent, what new petitions move?
Her soul already was consigned to fate,
And shivering in the leaky sculler sat. 735
For seven continued months, if fame say true,
The wretched swain his sorrows did renew;
By Strymon's freezing streams he sate alone,
The rocks were moved to pity with his moan:
Trees bent their heads to hear him sing his wrongs, 740
Fierce Tygers couched around, and lolled their fawning Tongues.
So, close in poplar shades, her children gone,
The mother nightingale laments alone:
Whose nest some prying churl had found, and thence,
By stealth, conveyed the unfeathered innocence. 745
But she supplies the night with mournful strains,
With one continued Tenor still complains;
Which fills the forrest, and the neighbering plains.
Sad Orpheus thus his tedious hours employs,
Averse from Venus, and from nuptial joys. 750
Alone he tempts the frozen floods, alone
the unhappy climes, where spring was never known:
He mourned his wretched wife, in vain restored,
And Pluto's unavailing boon deplored.
The Thracian matrons--who the youth accused, 755
Of love disdained, and marriage rites refused--
With furies, and nocturnal orgies fired,
At length, against his sacred life conspired.
Whom even the savage beasts had spared, they killed,
And strewed his mangled limbs about the field. 760
Then, when his head, from his fair shoulders torn,
Washed by the waters, was on Hebrus born;
Even then his trembling tongue invoked his bride;
With his last voice, Eurydice, he cryed,
Eurydice, the rocks and river-banks replied. 765
This answer Proteus gave, nor more he said,
But in the billows plunged his hoary head;
And where he leaped, the waves in circles widely spread.
The nymph returned, her drooping son to chear,
And bade him banish his superfluous fear: 770
For now, said she, the cause is known, from whence
Thy woe succeeded, and for what offence:
The nymphs, companions of the unhappy maid,
This punishment upon thy crimes have laid;
And sent a plague among thy thriving bees. 775
With vows and suppliant prayers their powers appease:
The soft napaean race will soon repent
Their anger, and remit the punishment.
The secret in an easy method lies;
Select four brawny bulls for sacrifice, 780
Which on lycaeus graze, without a guide;
Add four fair heifars yet in yoke untryed:
For these, four altars in their Temple rear,
And then adore the woodland powers with prayer.
From the slain victims pour the streaming blood, 785
And leave their bodies in the shady wood:
Nine mornings thence, Lethean poppy bring,
to appease the manes of the poets king:
And to propitiate his offended bride,
A fatted calf, and a black ewe provide: 790
This finished, to the former woods repair.
His mother's precepts he performs with care;
The Temple visits, and adores with prayer.
Four altars raises, from his herd he culls,
For slaughter, four the fairest of his bulls; 795
Four heifars from his female store he took,
All fair, and all unknowing of the yoke.
Nine mornings thence, with sacrifice and prayers,
The powers atoned, he to the grove repairs.
Behold a prodigy! for from within 800
The broken bowels, and the bloated skin,
A buzzing noise of bees their ears alarms,
Straight issue through the sides assembling swarms:
Dark as a cloud they make a wheeling flight,
Then on a neighbering tree, descending, light: 805
Like a large cluster of black grapes they show,
And make a large dependance from the bough.
Thus have I sung of fields, and flocks, and trees,
And of the waxen work of labering bees;
While mighty Caesar, thundering from afar, 810
Seeks on Euphrates banks the spoils of war:
With conqering arms asserts his country's cause,
With arts of peace the willing people draws:
On the glad earth the golden age renews,
And his great father's path to heaven pursues. 815
While I at Naples pass my peaceful days,
Affecting studies of less noisy praise;
And bold, through youth, beneath the beechen shade,
The lays of shepherds, and their loves have plaid.