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What makes the cornfield smile; beneath what starMaecenas, it is meet to turn the sodOr marry elm with vine; how tend the steer;What pains for cattle-keeping, or what proofOf patient trial serves for thrifty bees;-Such are my themes.O universal lightsMost glorious! ye that lead the gliding yearAlong the sky, Liber and Ceres mild,If by your bounty holpen earth once changedChaonian acorn for the plump wheat-ear,And mingled with the grape, your new-found gift,The draughts of Achelous; and ye FaunsTo rustics ever kind, come foot it, FaunsAnd Dryad-maids together; your gifts I sing.
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The shepherd Corydon with love was firedFor fair Alexis, his own master's joy:No room for hope had he, yet, none the less,The thick-leaved shadowy-soaring beech-tree groveStill 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 shadeAnd 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 disdainOf 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 amCare not to ask- how rich in flocks, or howIn snow-white milk abounding: yet for meRoam 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 homeOn Attic Aracynthus. Nor am ISo ill to look on: lately on the beachI saw myself, when winds had stilled the sea,And, if that mirror lie not, would not fearDaphnis 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-wandRound up the straggling flock! There you with meIn 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 roughYour dainty lip; such arts as these to learnWhat did Amyntas do?- what did he not?A pipe have I, of hemlock-stalks compactIn 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 findIn a steep glen, with coats white-dappled still,From a sheep's udders suckled twice a day-These still I keep for you; which ThestilisImplores me oft to let her lead away;And she shall have them, since my gifts you spurn.Come hither, beauteous boy; for you the NymphsBring baskets, see, with lilies brimmed; for you,Plucking pale violets and poppy-heads,Now the fair Naiad, of narcissus flowerAnd fragrant fennel, doth one posy twine-With cassia then, and other scented herbs,Blends them, and sets the tender hyacinth offWith yellow marigold. I too will pickQuinces all silvered-o'er with hoary down,Chestnuts, which Amaryllis wont to love,And waxen plums withal: this fruit no lessShall have its meed of honour; and I will pluckYou too, ye laurels, and you, ye myrtles, near,For so your sweets ye mingle. Corydon,You are a boor, nor heeds a whit your giftsAlexis; 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 herselfIn wanton sport the flowering cytisus,And Corydon Alexis, each led onBy their own longing. See, the ox comes homeWith plough up-tilted, and the shadows growTo 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 requiresOf pliant rush or osier? Scorned by this,Elsewhere some new Alexis you will find."
MENALCAS DAMOETAS PALAEMON
MENALCASWho owns the flock, Damoetas? Meliboeus?
DAMOETASNay, they are Aegon's sheep, of late by himCommitted to my care.
O every wayUnhappy sheep, unhappy flock! while heStill courts Neaera, fearing lest her choiceShould fall on me, this hireling shepherd hereWrings hourly twice their udders, from the flockFilching the life-juice, from the lambs their milk.
DAMOETASHold! 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-
MENALCASAy, then, I warrant, when they saw me slashMicon's young vines and trees with spiteful hook.
DAMOETASOr here by these old beeches, when you brokeThe bow and arrows of Damon; for you chafedWhen first you saw them given to the boy,Cross-grained Menalcas, ay, and had you notDone him some mischief, would have chafed to death.
MENALCASWith thieves so daring, what can masters do?Did I not see you, rogue, in ambush lieFor 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.
Well, was heWhom 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.
MENALCASYou out-pipe him? when had you ever pipeWax-welded? in the cross-ways used you notOn grating straw some miserable tuneTo mangle?
Well, then, shall we try our skillEach against each in turn? Lest you be loth,I pledge this heifer; every day she comesTwice to the milking-pail, and feeds withalTwo young ones at her udder: say you nowWhat you will stake upon the match with me.
MENALCASNaught from the flock I'll venture, for at homeI 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 yourselfWill own more priceless far- two beechen cupsBy the divine art of AlcimedonWrought 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 wandMarked 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 yetHave I set lip to them, but lay them by.
DAMOETASFor me too wrought the same AlcimedonA pair of cups, and round the handles wreathedPliant acanthus, Orpheus in the midst,The forests following in his wake; nor yetHave I set lip to them, but lay them by.Matched with a heifer, who would prate of cups?
MENALCASYou shall not balk me now; where'er you bid,I shall be with you; only let us haveFor auditor- or see, to serve our turn,Yonder Palaemon comes! In singing-boutsI'll see you play the challenger no more.
DAMOETASOut 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.
PALAEMONSay on then, since on the greensward we sit,And now is burgeoning both field and tree;Now is the forest green, and now the yearAt 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 markedWhere the wood-pigeons build their airy nests."
MENALCAS"Ten golden apples have I sent my boy,All that I could, to-morrow 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 guestSend me your Phyllis; when for the young cropsI 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 youngLithe 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 comeWhere thee he joys beholding; ay, for himLet honey flow, the thorn-bush spices bear."
MENALCAS"Who hates not Bavius, let him also loveThy songs, O Maevius, ay, and therewithalYoke foxes to his car, and he-goats milk."
DAMOETAS"You, picking flowers and strawberries that growSo 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 nowThe ram himself, see, dries his dripping fleece!"
DAMOETAS"Back with the she-goats, Tityrus, grazing thereSo 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 togetherSome evil eye my lambkins hath bewitched."
DAMOETAS"Say in what clime- and you shall be withalMy great Apollo- the whole breadth of heavenOpens no wider than three ells to view."
MENALCAS"Say in what country grow such flowers as bearThe names of kings upon their petals writ,And you shall have fair Phyllis for your own."
PALAEMONNot 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 offThe sluices, for the fields have drunk their fill.
Muses of Sicily, essay we nowA somewhat loftier task! Not all men loveCoppice or lowly tamarisk: sing we woods,Woods worthy of a Consul let them be.
Now the last age by Cumae's Sibyl sungHas come and gone, and the majestic rollOf 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 whomThe iron shall cease, the golden race arise,Befriend him, chaste Lucina; 'tis thine ownApollo 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 remainOf our old wickedness, once done away,Shall free the earth from never-ceasing fear.
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