The Eclogues of Virgil

Translated by J. B. Greenough

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Table of Contents

  1. MELIBOEUS, TITYRUS
  2. ALEXIS
  3. MENALCAS, DAMOETAS, PALAEMON
  4. POLLIO
  5. MENALCAS, MOPSUS
  6. TO VARUS
  7. MELIBOEUS, CORYDON, THYRSIS
  8. TO POLLIO, DAMON, ALPHESIBOEUS
  9. LYCIDAS, MOERIS
  10. GALLUS

ECLOGUE I

MELIBOEUS, TITYRUS

Meliboeus.

You, Tityrus, ‘neath a broad beech-canopy

Reclining, on the slender oat rehearse

Your silvan ditties: I from my sweet fields,

And home’s familiar bounds, even now depart.

Exiled from home am I; while, Tityrus, you

Sit careless in the shade, and, at your call,

“Fair Amaryllis” bid the woods resound.

Tityrus.

O Meliboeus, ’twas a god vouchsafed

This ease to us, for him a god will I

Deem ever, and from my folds a tender lamb

Oft with its life-blood shall his altar stain.

His gift it is that, as your eyes may see,

My kine may roam at large, and I myself

Play on my shepherd’s pipe what songs I will.

Meliboeus.

I grudge you not the boon, but marvel more,

Such wide confusion fills the country-side.

See, sick at heart I drive my she-goats on,

And this one, O my Tityrus, scarce can lead:

For ‘mid the hazel-thicket here but now

She dropped her new-yeaned twins on the bare flint,

Hope of the flock — an ill, I mind me well,

Which many a time, but for my blinded sense,

The thunder-stricken oak foretold, oft too

From hollow trunk the raven’s ominous cry.

But who this god of yours? Come, Tityrus, tell.

Tityrus.

The city, Meliboeus, they call Rome,

I, simpleton, deemed like this town of ours,

Whereto we shepherds oft are wont to drive

The younglings of the flock: so too I knew

Whelps to resemble dogs, and kids their dams,

Comparing small with great; but this as far

Above all other cities rears her head

As cypress above pliant osier towers.

Meliboeus.

And what so potent cause took you to Rome?

Tityrus.

Freedom, which, though belated, cast at length

Her eyes upon the sluggard, when my beard

‘Gan whiter fall beneath the barber’s blade-

Cast eyes, I say, and, though long tarrying, came,

Now when, from Galatea’s yoke released,

I serve but Amaryllis: for I will own,

While Galatea reigned over me, I had

No hope of freedom, and no thought to save.

Though many a victim from my folds went forth,

Or rich cheese pressed for the unthankful town,

Never with laden hands returned I home.

Meliboeus.

I used to wonder, Amaryllis, why

You cried to heaven so sadly, and for whom

You left the apples hanging on the trees;

’Twas Tityrus was away. Why, Tityrus,

The very pines, the very water-springs,

The very vineyards, cried aloud for you.

Tityrus.

What could I do? how else from bonds be freed,

Or otherwhere find gods so nigh to aid?

There, Meliboeus, I saw that youth to whom

Yearly for twice six days my altars smoke.

There instant answer gave he to my suit,

“Feed, as before, your kine, boys, rear your bulls.”

Meliboeus.

So in old age, you happy man, your fields

Will still be yours, and ample for your need!

Though, with bare stones o’erspread, the pastures all

Be choked with rushy mire, your ewes with young

By no strange fodder will be tried, nor hurt

Through taint contagious of a neighbouring flock.

Happy old man, who ‘mid familiar streams

And hallowed springs, will court the cooling shade!

Here, as of old, your neighbour’s bordering hedge,

That feasts with willow-flower the Hybla bees,

Shall oft with gentle murmur lull to sleep,

While the leaf-dresser beneath some tall rock

Uplifts his song, nor cease their cooings hoarse

The wood-pigeons that are your heart’s delight,

Nor doves their moaning in the elm-tree top.

Tityrus.

Sooner shall light stags, therefore, feed in air,

The seas their fish leave naked on the strand,

Germans and Parthians shift their natural bounds,

And these the Arar, those the Tigris drink,

Than from my heart his face and memory fade.

Meliboeus.

But we far hence, to burning Libya some,

Some to the Scythian steppes, or thy swift flood,

Cretan Oaxes, now must wend our way,

Or Britain, from the whole world sundered far.

Ah! shall I ever in aftertime behold

My native bounds — see many a harvest hence

With ravished eyes the lowly turf-roofed cot

Where I was king? These fallows, trimmed so fair,

Some brutal soldier will possess these fields

An alien master. Ah! to what a pass

Has civil discord brought our hapless folk!

For such as these, then, were our furrows sown!

Now, Meliboeus, graft your pears, now set

Your vines in order! Go, once happy flock,

My she-goats, go. Never again shall I,

Stretched in green cave, behold you from afar

Hang from the bushy rock; my songs are sung;

Never again will you, with me to tend,

On clover-flower, or bitter willows, browse.

Tityrus.

Yet here, this night, you might repose with me,

On green leaves pillowed: apples ripe have I,

Soft chestnuts, and of curdled milk enow.

And, see, the farm-roof chimneys smoke afar,

And from the hills the shadows lengthening fall!

ECLOGUE II

ALEXIS

The shepherd Corydon with love was fired

For fair Alexis, his own master’s joy:

No room for hope had he, yet, none the less,

The thick-leaved shadowy-soaring beech-tree grove

Still would he haunt, and there alone, as thus,

To woods and hills pour forth his artless strains.

“Cruel Alexis, heed you naught my songs?

Have you no pity? you’ll drive me to my death.

Now even the cattle court the cooling shade

And the green lizard hides him in the thorn:

Now for tired mowers, with the fierce heat spent,

Pounds Thestilis her mess of savoury herbs,

Wild thyme and garlic. I, with none beside,

Save hoarse cicalas shrilling through the brake,

Still track your footprints ‘neath the broiling sun.

Better have borne the petulant proud disdain

Of Amaryllis, or Menalcas wooed,

Albeit he was so dark, and you so fair!

Trust not too much to colour, beauteous boy;

White privets fall, dark hyacinths are culled.

You scorn me, Alexis, who or what I am

Care not to ask — how rich in flocks, or how

In snow-white milk abounding: yet for me

Roam on Sicilian hills a thousand lambs;

Summer or winter, still my milk-pails brim.

I sing as erst Amphion of Circe sang,

What time he went to call his cattle home

On Attic Aracynthus. Nor am I

So ill to look on: lately on the beach

I saw myself, when winds had stilled the sea,

And, if that mirror lie not, would not fear

Daphnis to challenge, though yourself were judge.

Ah! were you but content with me to dwell.

Some lowly cot in the rough fields our home,

Shoot down the stags, or with green osier-wand

Round up the straggling flock! There you with me

In silvan strains will learn to rival Pan.

Pan first with wax taught reed with reed to join;

For sheep alike and shepherd Pan hath care.

Nor with the reed’s edge fear you to make rough

Your dainty lip; such arts as these to learn

What did Amyntas do? — what did he not?

A pipe have I, of hemlock-stalks compact

In lessening lengths, Damoetas’ dying-gift:

‘Mine once,’ quoth he, ‘now yours, as heir to own.’

Foolish Amyntas heard and envied me.

Ay, and two fawns, I risked my neck to find

In a steep glen, with coats white-dappled still,

From a sheep’s udders suckled twice a day-

These still I keep for you; which Thestilis

Implores me oft to let her lead away;

And she shall have them, since my gifts you spurn.

Come hither, beauteous boy; for you the Nymphs

Bring baskets, see, with lilies brimmed; for you,

Plucking pale violets and poppy-heads,

Now the fair Naiad, of narcissus flower

And fragrant fennel, doth one posy twine-

With cassia then, and other scented herbs,

Blends them, and sets the tender hyacinth off

With yellow marigold. I too will pick

Quinces all silvered-o’er with hoary down,

Chestnuts, which Amaryllis wont to love,

And waxen plums withal: this fruit no less

Shall have its meed of honour; and I will pluck

You too, ye laurels, and you, ye myrtles, near,

For so your sweets ye mingle. Corydon,

You are a boor, nor heeds a whit your gifts

Alexis; no, nor would Iollas yield,

Should gifts decide the day. Alack! alack!

What misery have I brought upon my head!-

Loosed on the flowers Siroces to my bane,

And the wild boar upon my crystal springs!

Whom do you fly, infatuate? gods ere now,

And Dardan Paris, have made the woods their home.

Let Pallas keep the towers her hand hath built,

Us before all things let the woods delight.

The grim-eyed lioness pursues the wolf,

The wolf the she-goat, the she-goat herself

In wanton sport the flowering cytisus,

And Corydon Alexis, each led on

By their own longing. See, the ox comes home

With plough up-tilted, and the shadows grow

To twice their length with the departing sun,

Yet me love burns, for who can limit love?

Ah! Corydon, Corydon, what hath crazed your wit?

Your vine half-pruned hangs on the leafy elm;

Why haste you not to weave what need requires

Of pliant rush or osier? Scorned by this,

Elsewhere some new Alexis you will find.”

ECLOGUE III

MENALCAS, DAMOETAS, PALAEMON

Menalcas.

Who owns the flock, Damoetas? Meliboeus?

Damoetas.

Nay, they are Aegon’s sheep, of late by him

Committed to my care.

Menalcas.

O every way

Unhappy sheep, unhappy flock! while he

Still courts Neaera, fearing lest her choice

Should fall on me, this hireling shepherd here

Wrings hourly twice their udders, from the flock

Filching the life-juice, from the lambs their milk.

Damoetas.

Hold! not so ready with your jeers at men!

We know who once, and in what shrine with you-

The he-goats looked aside — the light nymphs laughed-

Menalcas.

Ay, then, I warrant, when they saw me slash

Micon’s young vines and trees with spiteful hook.

Damoetas.

Or here by these old beeches, when you broke

The bow and arrows of Damon; for you chafed

When first you saw them given to the boy,

Cross-grained Menalcas, ay, and had you not

Done him some mischief, would have chafed to death.

Menalcas.

With thieves so daring, what can masters do?

Did I not see you, rogue, in ambush lie

For Damon’s goat, while loud Lycisca barked?

And when I cried, “Where is he off to now?

Gather your flock together, Tityrus,”

You hid behind the sedges.

Damoetas.

Well, was he

Whom I had conquered still to keep the goat.

Which in the piping-match my pipe had won!

You may not know it, but the goat was mine.

Menalcas.

You out-pipe him? when had you ever pipe

Wax-welded? in the cross-ways used you not

On grating straw some miserable tune

To mangle?

Damoetas.

Well, then, shall we try our skill

Each against each in turn? Lest you be loth,

I pledge this heifer; every day she comes

Twice to the milking-pail, and feeds withal

Two young ones at her udder: say you now

What you will stake upon the match with me.

Menalcas.

Naught from the flock I’ll venture, for at home

I have a father and a step-dame harsh,

And twice a day both reckon up the flock,

And one withal the kids. But I will stake,

Seeing you are so mad, what you yourself

Will own more priceless far — two beechen cups

By the divine art of Alcimedon

Wrought and embossed, whereon a limber vine,

Wreathed round them by the graver’s facile tool,

Twines over clustering ivy-berries pale.

Two figures, one Conon, in the midst he set,

And one — how call you him, who with his wand

Marked out for all men the whole round of heaven,

That they who reap, or stoop behind the plough,

Might know their several seasons? Nor as yet

Have I set lip to them, but lay them by.

Damoetas.

For me too wrought the same Alcimedon

A pair of cups, and round the handles wreathed

Pliant acanthus, Orpheus in the midst,

The forests following in his wake; nor yet

Have I set lip to them, but lay them by.

Matched with a heifer, who would prate of cups?

Menalcas.

You shall not balk me now; where’er you bid,

I shall be with you; only let us have

For auditor — or see, to serve our turn,

Yonder Palaemon comes! In singing-bouts

I’ll see you play the challenger no more.

Damoetas.

Out then with what you have; I shall not shrink,

Nor budge for any man: only do you,

Neighbour Palaemon, with your whole heart’s skill-

For it is no slight matter-play your part.

Palaemon.

Say on then, since on the greensward we sit,

And now is burgeoning both field and tree;

Now is the forest green, and now the year

At fairest. Do you first, Damoetas, sing,

Then you, Menalcas, in alternate strain:

Alternate strains are to the Muses dear.

Damoetas.

“From Jove the Muse began; Jove filleth all,

Makes the earth fruitful, for my songs hath care.”

Menalcas.

“Me Phoebus loves; for Phoebus his own gifts,

Bays and sweet-blushing hyacinths, I keep.”

Damoetas.

“Gay Galatea throws an apple at me,

Then hies to the willows, hoping to be seen.”

Menalcas.

“My dear Amyntas comes unasked to me;

Not Delia to my dogs is better known.”

Damoetas.

“Gifts for my love I’ve found; mine eyes have marked

Where the wood-pigeons build their airy nests.”

Menalcas.

“Ten golden apples have I sent my boy,

All that I could, tomorrow as many more.”

Damoetas.

“What words to me, and uttered O how oft,

Hath Galatea spoke! waft some of them,

Ye winds, I pray you, for the gods to hear.”

Menalcas.

“It profiteth me naught, Amyntas mine,

That in your very heart you spurn me not,

If, while you hunt the boar, I guard the nets.”

Damoetas.

“Prithee, Iollas, for my birthday guest

Send me your Phyllis; when for the young crops

I slay my heifer, you yourself shall come.”

Menalcas.

“I am all hers; she wept to see me go,

And, lingering on the word, ‘farewell’ she said,

‘My beautiful Iollas, fare you well.’”

Damoetas.

“Fell as the wolf is to the folded flock,

Rain to ripe corn, Sirocco to the trees,

The wrath of Amaryllis is to me.”

Menalcas.

“As moisture to the corn, to ewes with young

Lithe willow, as arbute to the yeanling kids,

So sweet Amyntas, and none else, to me.”

Damoetas.

“My Muse, although she be but country-bred,

Is loved by Pollio: O Pierian Maids,

Pray you, a heifer for your reader feed!”

Menalcas.

“Pollio himself too doth new verses make:

Feed ye a bull now ripe to butt with horn,

And scatter with his hooves the flying sand.”

Damoetas.

“Who loves thee, Pollio, may he thither come

Where thee he joys beholding; ay, for him

Let honey flow, the thorn-bush spices bear.”

Menalcas.

“Who hates not Bavius, let him also love

Thy songs, O Maevius, ay, and therewithal

Yoke foxes to his car, and he-goats milk.”

Damoetas.

“You, picking flowers and strawberries that grow

So near the ground, fly hence, boys, get you gone!

There’s a cold adder lurking in the grass.”

Menalcas.

“Forbear, my sheep, to tread too near the brink;

Yon bank is ill to trust to; even now

The ram himself, see, dries his dripping fleece!”

Damoetas.

“Back with the she-goats, Tityrus, grazing there

So near the river! I, when time shall serve,

Will take them all, and wash them in the pool.”

Menalcas.

“Boys, get your sheep together; if the heat,

As late it did, forestall us with the milk,

Vainly the dried-up udders shall we wring.”

Damoetas.

“How lean my bull amid the fattening vetch!

Alack! alack! for herdsman and for herd!

It is the self-same love that wastes us both.”

Menalcas.

“These truly — nor is even love the cause-

Scarce have the flesh to keep their bones together

Some evil eye my lambkins hath bewitched.”

Damoetas.

“Say in what clime — and you shall be withal

My great Apollo — the whole breadth of heaven

Opens no wider than three ells to view.”

Menalcas.

“Say in what country grow such flowers as bear

The names of kings upon their petals writ,

And you shall have fair Phyllis for your own.”

Palaemon.

Not mine betwixt such rivals to decide:

You well deserve the heifer, so does he,

With all who either fear the sweets of love,

Or taste its bitterness. Now, boys, shut off

The sluices, for the fields have drunk their fill.

ECLOGUE IV

POLLIO

Muses of Sicily, essay we now

A somewhat loftier task! Not all men love

Coppice or lowly tamarisk: sing we woods,

Woods worthy of a Consul let them be.

Now the last age by Cumae’s Sibyl sung

Has come and gone, and the majestic roll

Of circling centuries begins anew:

Justice returns, returns old Saturn’s reign,

With a new breed of men sent down from heaven.

Only do thou, at the boy’s birth in whom

The iron shall cease, the golden race arise,

Befriend him, chaste Lucina; ’tis thine own

Apollo reigns. And in thy consulate,

This glorious age, O Pollio, shall begin,

And the months enter on their mighty march.

Under thy guidance, whatso tracks remain

Of our old wickedness, once done away,

Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear.

He shall receive the life of gods, and see

Heroes with gods commingling, and himself

Be seen of them, and with his father’s worth

Reign o’er a world at peace. For thee, O boy,

First shall the earth, untilled, pour freely forth

Her childish gifts, the gadding ivy-spray

With foxglove and Egyptian bean-flower mixed,

And laughing-eyed acanthus. Of themselves,

Untended, will the she-goats then bring home

Their udders swollen with milk, while flocks afield

Shall of the monstrous lion have no fear.

Thy very cradle shall pour forth for thee

Caressing flowers. The serpent too shall die,

Die shall the treacherous poison-plant, and far

And wide Assyrian spices spring. But soon

As thou hast skill to read of heroes’ fame,

And of thy father’s deeds, and inly learn

What virtue is, the plain by slow degrees

With waving corn-crops shall to golden grow,

From the wild briar shall hang the blushing grape,

And stubborn oaks sweat honey-dew. Nathless

Yet shall there lurk within of ancient wrong

Some traces, bidding tempt the deep with ships,

Gird towns with walls, with furrows cleave the earth.

Therewith a second Tiphys shall there be,

Her hero-freight a second Argo bear;

New wars too shall arise, and once again

Some great Achilles to some Troy be sent.

Then, when the mellowing years have made thee man,

No more shall mariner sail, nor pine-tree bark

Ply traffic on the sea, but every land

Shall all things bear alike: the glebe no more

Shall feel the harrow’s grip, nor vine the hook;

The sturdy ploughman shall loose yoke from steer,

Nor wool with varying colours learn to lie;

But in the meadows shall the ram himself,

Now with soft flush of purple, now with tint

Of yellow saffron, teach his fleece to shine.

While clothed in natural scarlet graze the lambs.

“Such still, such ages weave ye, as ye run,”

Sang to their spindles the consenting Fates

By Destiny’s unalterable decree.

Assume thy greatness, for the time draws nigh,

Dear child of gods, great progeny of Jove!

See how it totters — the world’s orbed might,

Earth, and wide ocean, and the vault profound,

All, see, enraptured of the coming time!

Ah! might such length of days to me be given,

And breath suffice me to rehearse thy deeds,

Nor Thracian Orpheus should out-sing me then,

Nor Linus, though his mother this, and that

His sire should aid — Orpheus Calliope,

And Linus fair Apollo. Nay, though Pan,

With Arcady for judge, my claim contest,

With Arcady for judge great Pan himself

Should own him foiled, and from the field retire.

Begin to greet thy mother with a smile,

O baby-boy! ten months of weariness

For thee she bore: O baby-boy, begin!

For him, on whom his parents have not smiled,

Gods deem not worthy of their board or bed.

ECLOGUE V

MENALCAS, MOPSUS

Menalcas.

Why, Mopsus, being both together met,

You skilled to breathe upon the slender reeds,

I to sing ditties, do we not sit down

Here where the elm-trees and the hazels blend?

Mopsus.

You are the elder, ’tis for me to bide

Your choice, Menalcas, whether now we seek

Yon shade that quivers to the changeful breeze,

Or the cave’s shelter. Look you how the cave

Is with the wild vine’s clusters over-laced!

Menalcas.

None but Amyntas on these hills of ours

Can vie with you.

Mopsus.

What if he also strive

To out-sing Phoebus?

Menalcas.

Do you first begin,

Good Mopsus, whether minded to sing aught

Of Phyllis and her loves, or Alcon’s praise,

Or to fling taunts at Codrus. Come, begin,

While Tityrus watches o’er the grazing kids.

Mopsus.

Nay, then, I will essay what late I carved

On a green beech-tree’s rind, playing by turns,

And marking down the notes; then afterward

Bid you Amyntas match them if he can.

Menalcas.

As limber willow to pale olive yields,

As lowly Celtic nard to rose-buds bright,

So, to my mind, Amyntas yields to you.

But hold awhile, for to the cave we come.

Mopsus.

“For Daphnis cruelly slain wept all the Nymphs-

Ye hazels, bear them witness, and ye streams-

When she, his mother, clasping in her arms

The hapless body of the son she bare,

To gods and stars unpitying, poured her plaint.

Then, Daphnis, to the cooling streams were none

That drove the pastured oxen, then no beast

Drank of the river, or would the grass-blade touch.

Nay, the wild rocks and woods then voiced the roar

Of Afric lions mourning for thy death.

Daphnis, ’twas thou bad’st yoke to Bacchus’ car

Armenian tigresses, lead on the pomp

Of revellers, and with tender foliage wreathe

The bending spear-wands. As to trees the vine

Is crown of glory, as to vines the grape,

Bulls to the herd, to fruitful fields the corn,

So the one glory of thine own art thou.

When the Fates took thee hence, then Pales’ self,

And even Apollo, left the country lone.

Where the plump barley-grain so oft we sowed,

There but wild oats and barren darnel spring;

For tender violet and narcissus bright

Thistle and prickly thorn uprear their heads.

Now, O ye shepherds, strew the ground with leaves,

And o’er the fountains draw a shady veil-

So Daphnis to his memory bids be done-

And rear a tomb, and write thereon this verse:

‘I, Daphnis in the woods, from hence in fame

Am to the stars exalted, guardian once

Of a fair flock, myself more fair than they.’”

Menalcas.

So is thy song to me, poet divine,

As slumber on the grass to weary limbs,

Or to slake thirst from some sweet-bubbling rill

In summer’s heat. Nor on the reeds alone,

But with thy voice art thou, thrice happy boy,

Ranked with thy master, second but to him.

Yet will I, too, in turn, as best I may,

Sing thee a song, and to the stars uplift

Thy Daphnis — Daphnis to the stars extol,

For me too Daphnis loved.

Mopsus.

Than such a boon

What dearer could I deem? the boy himself

Was worthy to be sung, and many a time

Hath Stimichon to me your singing praised.

Menalcas.

“In dazzling sheen with unaccustomed eyes

Daphnis stands rapt before Olympus’ gate,

And sees beneath his feet the clouds and stars.

Wherefore the woods and fields, Pan, shepherd-folk,

And Dryad-maidens, thrill with eager joy;

Nor wolf with treacherous wile assails the flock,

Nor nets the stag: kind Daphnis loveth peace.

The unshorn mountains to the stars up-toss

Voices of gladness; ay, the very rocks,

The very thickets, shout and sing, ‘A god,

A god is he, Menalcas “Be thou kind,

Propitious to thine own. Lo! altars four,

Twain to thee, Daphnis, and to Phoebus twain

For sacrifice, we build; and I for thee

Two beakers yearly of fresh milk afoam,

And of rich olive-oil two bowls, will set;

And of the wine-god’s bounty above all,

If cold, before the hearth, or in the shade

At harvest-time, to glad the festal hour,

From flasks of Ariusian grape will pour

Sweet nectar. Therewithal at my behest

Shall Lyctian Aegon and Damoetas sing,

And Alphesiboeus emulate in dance

The dancing Satyrs. This, thy service due,

Shalt thou lack never, both when we pay the Nymphs

Our yearly vows, and when with lustral rites

The fields we hallow. Long as the wild boar

Shall love the mountain-heights, and fish the streams,

While bees on thyme and crickets feed on dew,

Thy name, thy praise, thine honour, shall endure.

Even as to Bacchus and to Ceres, so

To thee the swain his yearly vows shall make;

And thou thereof, like them, shalt quittance claim.”

Mopsus.

How, how repay thee for a song so rare?

For not the whispering south-wind on its way

So much delights me, nor wave-smitten beach,

Nor streams that race adown their bouldered beds.

Menalcas.

First this frail hemlock-stalk to you I give,

Which taught me “Corydon with love was fired

For fair Alexis,” ay, and this beside,

“Who owns the flock? — Meliboeus?”

Mopsus.

But take you

This shepherd’s crook, which, howso hard he begged,

Antigenes, then worthy to be loved,

Prevailed not to obtain — with brass, you see,

And equal knots, Menalcas, fashioned fair!

ECLOGUE VI

TO VARUS

First my Thalia stooped in sportive mood

To Syracusan strains, nor blushed within

The woods to house her. When I sought to tell

Of battles and of kings, the Cynthian god

Plucked at mine ear and warned me: “Tityrus,

Beseems a shepherd-wight to feed fat sheep,

But sing a slender song.” Now, Varus, I-

For lack there will not who would laud thy deeds,

And treat of dolorous wars — will rather tune

To the slim oaten reed my silvan lay.

I sing but as vouchsafed me; yet even this

If, if but one with ravished eyes should read,

Of thee, O Varus, shall our tamarisks

And all the woodland ring; nor can there be

A page more dear to Phoebus, than the page

Where, foremost writ, the name of Varus stands.

Speed ye, Pierian Maids! Within a cave

Young Chromis and Mnasyllos chanced to see

Silenus sleeping, flushed, as was his wont,

With wine of yesterday. Not far aloof,

Slipped from his head, the garlands lay, and there

By its worn handle hung a ponderous cup.

Approaching — for the old man many a time

Had balked them both of a long hoped-for song-

Garlands to fetters turned, they bind him fast.

Then Aegle, fairest of the Naiad-band,

Aegle came up to the half-frightened boys,

Came, and, as now with open eyes he lay,

With juice of blood-red mulberries smeared him o’er,

Both brow and temples. Laughing at their guile,

And crying, “Why tie the fetters? loose me, boys;

Enough for you to think you had the power;

Now list the songs you wish for — songs for you,

Another meed for her” — forthwith began.

Then might you see the wild things of the wood,

With Fauns in sportive frolic beat the time,

And stubborn oaks their branchy summits bow.

Not Phoebus doth the rude Parnassian crag

So ravish, nor Orpheus so entrance the heights

Of Rhodope or Ismarus: for he sang

How through the mighty void the seeds were driven

Of earth, air, ocean, and of liquid fire,

How all that is from these beginnings grew,

And the young world itself took solid shape,

Then ‘gan its crust to harden, and in the deep

Shut Nereus off, and mould the forms of things

Little by little; and how the earth amazed

Beheld the new sun shining, and the showers

Fall, as the clouds soared higher, what time the woods

‘Gan first to rise, and living things to roam

Scattered among the hills that knew them not.

Then sang he of the stones by Pyrrha cast,

Of Saturn’s reign, and of Prometheus’ theft,

And the Caucasian birds, and told withal

Nigh to what fountain by his comrades left

The mariners cried on Hylas till the shore

“Then Re-echoed “Hylas, Hylas! soothed

Pasiphae with the love of her white bull-

Happy if cattle-kind had never been!-

O ill-starred maid, what frenzy caught thy soul

The daughters too of Proetus filled the fields

With their feigned lowings, yet no one of them

Of such unhallowed union e’er was fain

As with a beast to mate, though many a time

On her smooth forehead she had sought for horns,

And for her neck had feared the galling plough.

O ill-starred maid! thou roamest now the hills,

While on soft hyacinths he, his snowy side

Reposing, under some dark ilex now

Chews the pale herbage, or some heifer tracks

Amid the crowding herd. Now close, ye Nymphs,

Ye Nymphs of Dicte, close the forest-glades,

If haply there may chance upon mine eyes

The white bull’s wandering foot-prints: him belike

Following the herd, or by green pasture lured,

Some kine may guide to the Gortynian stalls.

Then sings he of the maid so wonder-struck

With the apples of the Hesperids, and then

With moss-bound, bitter bark rings round the forms

Of Phaethon’s fair sisters, from the ground

Up-towering into poplars. Next he sings

Of Gallus wandering by Permessus’ stream,

And by a sister of the Muses led

To the Aonian mountains, and how all

The choir of Phoebus rose to greet him; how

The shepherd Linus, singer of songs divine,

Brow-bound with flowers and bitter parsley, spake:

“These reeds the Muses give thee, take them thou,

Erst to the aged bard of Ascra given,

Wherewith in singing he was wont to draw

Time-rooted ash-trees from the mountain heights.

With these the birth of the Grynean grove

Be voiced by thee, that of no grove beside

Apollo more may boast him.” Wherefore speak

Of Scylla, child of Nisus, who, ’tis said,

Her fair white loins with barking monsters girt

Vexed the Dulichian ships, and, in the deep

Swift-eddying whirlpool, with her sea-dogs tore

The trembling mariners? or how he told

Of the changed limbs of Tereus — what a feast,

What gifts, to him by Philomel were given;

How swift she sought the desert, with what wings

Hovered in anguish o’er her ancient home?

All that, of old, Eurotas, happy stream,

Heard, as Apollo mused upon the lyre,

And bade his laurels learn, Silenus sang;

Till from Olympus, loth at his approach,

Vesper, advancing, bade the shepherds tell

Their tale of sheep, and pen them in the fold.

ECLOGUE VII

MELIBOEUS, CORYDON, THYRSIS

Daphnis beneath a rustling ilex-tree

Had sat him down; Thyrsis and Corydon

Had gathered in the flock, Thyrsis the sheep,

And Corydon the she-goats swollen with milk-

Both in the flower of age, Arcadians both,

Ready to sing, and in like strain reply.

Hither had strayed, while from the frost I fend

My tender myrtles, the he-goat himself,

Lord of the flock; when Daphnis I espy!

Soon as he saw me, “Hither haste,” he cried,

“O Meliboeus! goat and kids are safe;

And, if you have an idle hour to spare,

Rest here beneath the shade. Hither the steers

Will through the meadows, of their own free will,

Untended come to drink. Here Mincius hath

With tender rushes rimmed his verdant banks,

And from yon sacred oak with busy hum

The bees are swarming.” What was I to do?

No Phyllis or Alcippe left at home

Had I, to shelter my new-weaned lambs,

And no slight matter was a singing-bout

‘Twixt Corydon and Thyrsis. Howsoe’er,

I let my business wait upon their sport.

So they began to sing, voice answering voice

In strains alternate — for alternate strains

The Muses then were minded to recall-

First Corydon, then Thyrsis in reply.

Corydon.

“Libethrian Nymphs, who are my heart’s delight,

Grant me, as doth my Codrus, so to sing-

Next to Apollo he — or if to this

We may not all attain, my tuneful pipe

Here on this sacred pine shall silent hang.”

Thyrsis.

“Arcadian shepherds, wreathe with ivy-spray

Your budding poet, so that Codrus burst

With envy: if he praise beyond my due,

Then bind my brow with foxglove, lest his tongue

With evil omen blight the coming bard.”

Corydon.

“This bristling boar’s head, Delian Maid, to thee,

With branching antlers of a sprightly stag,

Young Micon offers: if his luck but hold,

Full-length in polished marble, ankle-bound

With purple buskin, shall thy statue stand.”

Thyrsis.

“A bowl of milk, Priapus, and these cakes,

Yearly, it is enough for thee to claim;

Thou art the guardian of a poor man’s plot.

Wrought for a while in marble, if the flock

At lambing time be filled,stand there in gold.”

Corydon.

“Daughter of Nereus, Galatea mine,

Sweeter than Hybla-thyme, more white than swans,

Fairer than ivy pale, soon as the steers

Shall from their pasture to the stalls repair,

If aught for Corydon thou carest, come.”

Thyrsis.

“Now may I seem more bitter to your taste

Than herb Sardinian, rougher than the broom,

More worthless than strewn sea-weed, if today

Hath not a year out-lasted! Fie for shame!

Go home, my cattle, from your grazing go!”

Corydon.

“Ye mossy springs, and grass more soft than sleep,

And arbute green with thin shade sheltering you,

Ward off the solstice from my flock, for now

Comes on the burning summer, now the buds

Upon the limber vine-shoot ‘gin to swell.”

Thyrsis.

“Here is a hearth, and resinous logs, here fire

Unstinted, and doors black with ceaseless smoke.

Here heed we Boreas’ icy breath as much

As the wolf heeds the number of the flock,

Or furious rivers their restraining banks.”

Corydon.

“The junipers and prickly chestnuts stand,

And ‘neath each tree lie strewn their several fruits,

Now the whole world is smiling, but if fair

Alexis from these hill-slopes should away,

Even the rivers you would; see run dry.”

Thyrsis.

“The field is parched, the grass-blades thirst to death

In the faint air; Liber hath grudged the hills

His vine’s o’er-shadowing: should my Phyllis come,

Green will be all the grove, and Jupiter

Descend in floods of fertilizing rain.”

Corydon.

“The poplar doth Alcides hold most dear,

The vine Iacchus, Phoebus his own bays,

And Venus fair the myrtle: therewithal

Phyllis doth hazels love, and while she loves,

Myrtle nor bay the hazel shall out-vie.”

Thyrsis.

“Ash in the forest is most beautiful,

Pine in the garden, poplar by the stream,

Fir on the mountain-height; but if more oft

Thou’ldst come to me, fair Lycidas, to thee

Both forest-ash, and garden-pine should bow.”

Meliboeus.

These I remember, and how Thyrsis strove

For victory in vain. From that time forth

Is Corydon still Corydon with us.

ECLOGUE VIII

TO POLLIO, DAMON, ALPHESIBOEUS

Of Damon and Alphesiboeus now,

Those shepherd-singers at whose rival strains

The heifer wondering forgot to graze,

The lynx stood awe-struck, and the flowing streams,

Unwonted loiterers, stayed their course to hear-

How Damon and Alphesiboeus sang

Their pastoral ditties, will I tell the tale.

Thou, whether broad Timavus’ rocky banks

Thou now art passing, or dost skirt the shore

Of the Illyrian main — will ever dawn

That day when I thy deeds may celebrate,

Ever that day when through the whole wide world

I may renown thy verse — that verse alone

Of Sophoclean buskin worthy found?

With thee began, to thee shall end, the strain.

Take thou these songs that owe their birth to thee,

And deign around thy temples to let creep

This ivy-chaplet ‘twixt the conquering bays.

Scarce had night’s chilly shade forsook the sky

What time to nibbling sheep the dewy grass

Tastes sweetest, when, on his smooth shepherd-staff

Of olive leaning, Damon thus began.

Damon.

“Rise, Lucifer, and, heralding the light,

Bring in the genial day, while I make moan

Fooled by vain passion for a faithless bride,

For Nysa, and with this my dying breath

Call on the gods, though little it bestead-

The gods who heard her vows and heeded not.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Ever hath Maenalus his murmuring groves

And whispering pines, and ever hears the songs

Of love-lorn shepherds, and of Pan, who first

Brooked not the tuneful reed should idle lie.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Nysa to Mopsus given! what may not then

We lovers look for? soon shall we see mate

Griffins with mares, and in the coming age

Shy deer and hounds together come to drink.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Now, Mopsus, cut new torches, for they bring

Your bride along; now, bridegroom, scatter nuts:

Forsaking Oeta mounts the evening star!

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

O worthy of thy mate, while all men else

Thou scornest, and with loathing dost behold

My shepherd’s pipe, my goats, my shaggy brow,

And untrimmed beard, nor deem’st that any god

For mortal doings hath regard or care.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Once with your mother, in our orchard-garth,

A little maid I saw you — I your guide-

Plucking the dewy apples. My twelfth year

I scarce had entered, and could barely reach

The brittle boughs. I looked, and I was lost;

A sudden frenzy swept my wits away.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Now know I what Love is: ‘mid savage rocks

Tmaros or Rhodope brought forth the boy,

Or Garamantes in earth’s utmost bounds-

No kin of ours, nor of our blood begot.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Fierce Love it was once steeled a mother’s heart

With her own offspring’s blood her hands to imbrue:

Mother, thou too wert cruel; say wert thou

More cruel, mother, or more ruthless he?

Ruthless the boy, thou, mother, cruel too.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Now let the wolf turn tail and fly the sheep,

Tough oaks bear golden apples, alder-trees

Bloom with narcissus-flower, the tamarisk

Sweat with rich amber, and the screech-owl vie

In singing with the swan: let Tityrus

Be Orpheus, Orpheus in the forest-glade,

Arion ‘mid his dolphins on the deep.

“Begin, my flute, with me Maenalian lays.

Yea, be the whole earth to mid-ocean turned!

Farewell, ye woodlands I from the tall peak

Of yon aerial rock will headlong plunge

Into the billows: this my latest gift,

From dying lips bequeathed thee, see thou keep.

Cease now, my flute, now cease Maenalian lays.”

Thus Damon: but do ye, Pierian Maids-

We cannot all do all things — tell me how

Alphesiboeus to his strain replied.

Alphesiboeus.

“Bring water, and with soft wool-fillet bind

These altars round about, and burn thereon

Rich vervain and male frankincense, that I

May strive with magic spells to turn astray

My lover’s saner senses, whereunto

There lacketh nothing save the power of song.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

Songs can the very moon draw down from heaven

Circe with singing changed from human form

The comrades of Ulysses, and by song

Is the cold meadow-snake, asunder burst.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

These triple threads of threefold colour first

I twine about thee, and three times withal

Around these altars do thine image bear:

Uneven numbers are the god’s delight.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

Now, Amaryllis, ply in triple knots

The threefold colours; ply them fast, and say

This is the chain of Venus that I ply.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

As by the kindling of the self-same fire

Harder this clay, this wax the softer grows,

So by my love may Daphnis; sprinkle meal,

And with bitumen burn the brittle bays.

Me Daphnis with his cruelty doth burn,

I to melt cruel Daphnis burn this bay.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

As when some heifer, seeking for her steer

Through woodland and deep grove, sinks wearied out

On the green sedge beside a stream, love-lorn,

Nor marks the gathering night that calls her home-

As pines that heifer, with such love as hers

May Daphnis pine, and I not care to heal.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

These relics once, dear pledges of himself,

The traitor left me, which, O earth, to thee

Here on this very threshold I commit-

Pledges that bind him to redeem the debt.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

These herbs of bane to me did Moeris give,

In Pontus culled, where baneful herbs abound.

With these full oft have I seen Moeris change

To a wolf’s form, and hide him in the woods,

Oft summon spirits from the tomb’s recess,

And to new fields transport the standing corn.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

Take ashes, Amaryllis, fetch them forth,

And o’er your head into the running brook

Fling them, nor look behind: with these will

Upon the heart of Daphnis make essay.

Nothing for gods, nothing for songs cares he.

“Draw from the town, my songs, draw Daphnis home.

Look, look I the very embers of themselves

Have caught the altar with a flickering flame,

While I delay to fetch them: may the sign

Prove lucky! something it must mean, for sure,

And Hylax on the threshold ‘gins to bark!

May we believe it, or are lovers still

By their own fancies fooled?

Give o’er, my songs,

Daphnis is coming from the town, give o’er.”

ECLOGUE IX

LYCIDAS, MOERIS

Lycidas.

Say whither, Moeris? — Make you for the town,

Or on what errand bent?

Moeris.

O Lycidas,

We have lived to see, what never yet we feared,

An interloper own our little farm,

And say, “Be off, you former husbandmen!

These fields are mine.” Now, cowed and out of heart,

Since Fortune turns the whole world upside down,

We are taking him — ill luck go with the same!-’

These kids you see.

Lycidas.

But surely I had heard

That where the hills first draw from off the plain,

And the high ridge with gentle slope descends,

Down to the brook-side and the broken crests

Of yonder veteran beeches, all the land

Was by the songs of your Menalcas saved.

Moeris.

Heard it you had, and so the rumour ran,

But ‘mid the clash of arms, my Lycidas,

Our songs avail no more than, as ’tis said,

Doves of Dodona when an eagle comes.

Nay, had I not, from hollow ilex-bole

Warned by a raven on the left, cut short

The rising feud, nor I, your Moeris here,

No, nor Menalcas, were alive today.

Lycidas.

Alack! could any of so foul a crime

Be guilty? Ah! how nearly, thyself,

Reft was the solace that we had in thee,

Menalcas! Who then of the Nymphs had sung,

Or who with flowering herbs bestrewn the ground,

And o’er the fountains drawn a leafy veil?-

Who sung the stave I filched from you that day

To Amaryllis wending, our hearts’ joy?-

“While I am gone, ’tis but a little way,

Feed, Tityrus, my goats, and, having fed,

Drive to the drinking-pool, and, as you drive,

Beware the he-goat; with his horn he butts.”

Moeris.

Ay, or to Varus that half-finished lay,

“Varus, thy name, so still our Mantua live-

Mantua to poor Cremona all too near-

Shall singing swans bear upward to the stars.”

Lycidas.

So may your swarms Cyrnean yew-trees shun,

Your kine with cytisus their udders swell,

Begin, if aught you have. The Muses made

Me too a singer; I too have sung; the swains

Call me a poet, but I believe them not:

For naught of mine, or worthy Varius yet

Or Cinna deem I, but account myself

A cackling goose among melodious swans.

Moeris.

’Twas in my thought to do so, Lycidas;

Even now was I revolving silently

If this I could recall — no paltry song:

“Come, Galatea, what pleasure is ‘t to play

Amid the waves? Here glows the Spring, here earth

Beside the streams pours forth a thousand flowers;

Here the white poplar bends above the cave,

And the lithe vine weaves shadowy covert: come,

Leave the mad waves to beat upon the shore.”

Lycidas.

What of the strain I heard you singing once

On a clear night alone? the notes I still

Remember, could I but recall the words.

Moeris.

“Why, Daphnis, upward gazing, do you mark

The ancient risings of the Signs? for look

Where Dionean Caesar’s star comes forth

In heaven, to gladden all the fields with corn,

And to the grape upon the sunny slopes

Her colour bring! Now, the pears;

So shall your children’s children pluck their fruit.

Time carries all things, even our wits, away.

Oft, as a boy, I sang the sun to rest,

But all those songs are from my memory fled,

And even his voice is failing Moeris now;

The wolves eyed Moeris first: but at your wish

Menalcas will repeat them oft enow.

Lycidas.

Your pleas but linger out my heart’s desire:

Now all the deep is into silence hushed,

And all the murmuring breezes sunk to sleep.

We are half-way thither, for Bianor’s tomb

Begins to show: here, Moeris, where the hinds

Are lopping the thick leafage, let us sing.

Set down the kids, yet shall we reach the town;

Or, if we fear the night may gather rain

Ere we arrive, then singing let us go,

Our way to lighten; and, that we may thus

Go singing, I will case you of this load.

Moeris.

Cease, boy, and get we to the work in hand:

We shall sing better when himself is come.

ECLOGUE X

GALLUS

This now, the very latest of my toils,

Vouchsafe me, Arethusa! needs must I

Sing a brief song to Gallus — brief, but yet

Such as Lycoris’ self may fitly read.

Who would not sing for Gallus? So, when thou

Beneath Sicanian billows glidest on,

May Doris blend no bitter wave with thine,

Begin! The love of Gallus be our theme,

And the shrewd pangs he suffered, while, hard by,

The flat-nosed she-goats browse the tender brush.

We sing not to deaf ears; no word of ours

But the woods echo it. What groves or lawns

Held you, ye Dryad-maidens, when for love-

Love all unworthy of a loss so dear-

Gallus lay dying? for neither did the slopes

Of Pindus or Parnassus stay you then,

No, nor Aonian Aganippe. Him

Even the laurels and the tamarisks wept;

For him, outstretched beneath a lonely rock,

Wept pine-clad Maenalus, and the flinty crags

Of cold Lycaeus. The sheep too stood around-

Of us they feel no shame, poet divine;

Nor of the flock be thou ashamed: even fair

Adonis by the rivers fed his sheep-

Came shepherd too, and swine-herd footing slow,

And, from the winter-acorns dripping-wet

Menalcas. All with one accord exclaim:

“From whence this love of thine?” Apollo came;

“Gallus, art mad?” he cried, “thy bosom’s care

Another love is following.“Therewithal

Silvanus came, with rural honours crowned;

The flowering fennels and tall lilies shook

Before him. Yea, and our own eyes beheld

Pan, god of Arcady, with blood-red juice

Of the elder-berry, and with vermilion, dyed.

“Wilt ever make an end?” quoth he, “behold

Love recks not aught of it: his heart no more

With tears is sated than with streams the grass,

Bees with the cytisus, or goats with leaves.”

“Yet will ye sing, Arcadians, of my woes

Upon your mountains,” sadly he replied-

“Arcadians, that alone have skill to sing.

O then how softly would my ashes rest,

If of my love, one day, your flutes should tell!

And would that I, of your own fellowship,

Or dresser of the ripening grape had been,

Or guardian of the flock! for surely then,

Let Phyllis, or Amyntas, or who else,

Bewitch me — what if swart Amyntas be?

Dark is the violet, dark the hyacinth-

Among the willows, ‘neath the limber vine,

Reclining would my love have lain with me,

Phyllis plucked garlands, or Amyntas sung.

Here are cool springs, soft mead and grove, Lycoris;

Here might our lives with time have worn away.

But me mad love of the stern war-god holds

Armed amid weapons and opposing foes.

Whilst thou — Ah! might I but believe it not!-

Alone without me, and from home afar,

Look’st upon Alpine snows and frozen Rhine.

Ah! may the frost not hurt thee, may the sharp

And jagged ice not wound thy tender feet!

I will depart, re-tune the songs I framed

In verse Chalcidian to the oaten reed

Of the Sicilian swain. Resolved am I

In the woods, rather, with wild beasts to couch,

And bear my doom, and character my love

Upon the tender tree-trunks: they will grow,

And you, my love, grow with them. And meanwhile

I with the Nymphs will haunt Mount Maenalus,

Or hunt the keen wild boar. No frost so cold

But I will hem with hounds thy forest-glades,

Parthenius. Even now, methinks, I range

O’er rocks, through echoing groves, and joy to launch

Cydonian arrows from a Parthian bow.-

As if my madness could find healing thus,

Or that god soften at a mortal’s grief!

Now neither Hamadryads, no, nor songs

Delight me more: ye woods, away with you!

No pangs of ours can change him; not though we

In the mid-frost should drink of Hebrus’ stream,

And in wet winters face Sithonian snows,

Or, when the bark of the tall elm-tree bole

Of drought is dying, should, under Cancer’s Sign,

In Aethiopian deserts drive our flocks.

Love conquers all things; yield we too to love!”

These songs, Pierian Maids, shall it suffice

Your poet to have sung, the while he sat,

And of slim mallow wove a basket fine:

To Gallus ye will magnify their worth,

Gallus, for whom my love grows hour by hour,

As the green alder shoots in early Spring.

Come, let us rise: the shade is wont to be

Baneful to singers; baneful is the shade

Cast by the juniper, crops sicken too

In shade. Now homeward, having fed your fill-

Eve’s star is rising-go, my she-goats, go.

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