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And thou, for whom the Cean shore sustains
The milky herds, that graze the flow'ry plains;
And thou, the shepherds' tutelary god,
Leave, for a while, O Pan, thy lov'd abode;
And, if Arcadian fleeces be thy care,
From fields and mountains to my song repair.
Inventor, Pallas, of the fatt'ning oil,
Thou founder of the plough and ploughman's
And thou, whose hands the shroud-like cypress rear;
Come, all ye gods and goddesses, that wear
The rural honours, and increase the year;
You, who supply the ground with seeds of
And you, who swell those seeds with kindly
And chiefly thou, whose undetermin❜d state
Is yet the bus'ness of the gods, debate,
Whether in after-times, to be declar'd,
The patron of the world, and Rome's peculiar
Or o'er the fruits and seasons to preside,
And the round circuit of the year to guide-
Pow'rful of blessings, which thou strew'st around,
And with thy goddess mother's myrtle crown'd.
Or wilt thou, Cæsar, choose the wat❜ry reign
To smooth the surges and correct the main?
Then mariners, in storms, to thee shall pray;
E'en utmost Thule shall thy pow'r obey;
And Neptune shall resign the fasces of the sea.
The wat❜ry virgins for thy bed shall strive,
And Tethys all her waves in dowry give.
Or wilt thou bless our summers with thy rays,
And, seated near the Balance, poise the days
Where, in the void of heav'n, 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.
Whatever part of heav'n 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;
Though Greece admires Elysium's blest re-
Though Proserpine affects her silent seat,
And, importun'd by Ceres to remove,
Prefers the fields below to those above)
Be thou propitious, Cæsar! guide my course,
And to my bold endeavours add thy force:
Pity the poet's and the ploughman's cares;
Int'rest thy greatness in our mean affairs,
And use thyself betimes to hear and grant our
While yet the spring is young, while earth
Her frozen bosom to the western winds;
While mountain snows dissolve against the sun,
And streams, yet new, from precipices run;
E'en in this early dawning of the year,
Produce the plough, and yoke the sturdy steer,
And goad him till he groans beneath his toil,
Till the bright share is buried in the soil.
That crop rewards the greedy peasant's pains,
Which twice the sun, and twice the cold sus-
And bursts the crowded barns with more than promis'd gains.
But, ere we stir the yet unbroken ground,
The various course of seasons must be found;
The weather and the setting of the winds,
The culture suiting to the sev'ral kinds
Of seeds and plants, and what will thrive and
And what the genius of the soil denies.
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 crown'd:
India black ebon and white iv'ry bears;
And soft Idume weeps her od'rous tears.
Thus Pontus sends her beaver stones from far,
And naked Spaniards temper steel for war:
Epirus, for th' Elean chariot, breeds
(In hopes of palms) a race of running steeds.
This is th' original contract; these the laws
Impos'd by Nature, and by Nature's cause,
On sundry places, when Deucalion hurl'd
His mother's entrails on the desert world;
Whence men, a hard laborious kind, were born.
Then borrow part of winter for thy corn;
And early, with thy team, the glebe in furrows
That, while the turf lies open and unbound,
Succeeding suns may bake the mellow ground.
But, if the soil be barren, only scar
The surface, and but lightly print the share,
When cold Arcturus rises with the sun :
Lest wicked weeds the corn should overrun
In wat❜ry soils; or lest the barren sand
Should suck the moisture from the thirsty land.
Both these unhappy soils the swain forbears,
And keeps a sabbath of alternate years,
That the spent earth may gather heart again,
And, better'd by cessation, bear the grain.
At least where vetches, pulse, and tares, have
And stalks of lupines grew (a stubborn wood,)
Th' 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 harvest yield.
But sweet vicissitudes of rest and toil
Make easy labour and renew the soil,
Yet sprinkle sordid ashes all around,
And load with fatt'ning dung the fallow ground.
The crumbling clods: nor Ceres from on high
Regards his labours with a grudging eye,
Nor his, who ploughs across the furrow'd grounds,
And on the back of earth inflicts new wounds;
For he, with frequent exercise, commands
Th' unwilling soil, and tames the stubborn lands.
Ye swains, invoke the pow'rs who rule the
For a moist summer and a winter dry;
For winter drought rewards the peasant s pain,
And broods indulgent on the buried grain.
Hence Mysia boasts her harvests, and the tops
Of Gargarus admired their happy crops.
When first the soil receives the fruitful seed,
Make no delay, but cover it with speed:
So fenc'd from cold the pliant furrows break,
Before the surly clod resists the rake;
And call the floods from high, to rush amain
With pregnant streams, to swell the teeming
Then, when the fiery suns too fiercely play,
And shrivell'd herbs on with'ring stems decay,
The wary ploughman, on the mountain's brow,
Undams his wat'ry stores-huge torrents flow,
And, rattling down the rocks, large moisture
Temp'ring the thirsty fever of the field-
And, lest the stem, too feeble for the freight,
Should scarce sustain the head's unwieldly
Sends in his feeding flocks betimes, t' invade
The rising bulk of the luxuriant blade,
Ere yet th' aspiring offspring of the grain
O'ertops the ridges of the furrow'd plain;
And drains the standing waters, when they yield
Too large a bev'rage to the drunken field:
But most in autumn, and the show'ry 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 cover'd o'er,
Or hollow places spew their wat❜ry store.
Nor yet the ploughman, nor the lab'ring steer,
Sustain alone the hazards of the
But glutton geese, and the Strymonian crane,
With foreign troops invade the tender grain;
And tow'ring weeds malignant shadows yield;
And spreading succ'ry 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, inur'd to toil,
Should exercise, with pains, the grudging soil;
Himself invented first the shining share
And whetted human industry by care;
Himself did handicrafts and arts ordain,
Nor suffer'd sloth to rust his active reign.
Ere this, no peasant vex'd the peaceful ground,
Which only turfs and greens for altars found:
No fences parted fields, nor marks nor bounds
Distinguish'd acres of litigious grounds:
But all was common, and the fruitful earth
Was free to give her unexacted birth.
Jove added venom to the viper's brood,
And swell'd, with raging storms, the peaceful
Commission'd hungry wolves t' infest the fold,
And shook from oaken leaves the liquid gold;
Remov'd from human reach the cheerful fire,
And from the rivers bade the vine retire;
That studious need might useful arts explore;
From furrow'd fields to reap the foodful store,
And force the veins of clashing flints t' expire,
The lurking seeds of their celestial fire.
Then first on seas the hollow'd alder swam;
Then sailors quarter'd heav'n, and found a name
For ev'ry fix'd and ev'ry wand'ring star-
The Pleiads, Hyads, and the Northern Car.
Then toils for beasts, and lime for birds, were
And deep-mouth'd dogs did forest-walks surround;
And casting-nets were spread in shallow brooks, Drags in the deep, and baits were hung on hooks.
Then saws were tooth'd, and sounding axes made;
(For, wedges first did yielding wood invade) And various arts in order did succeed, (What cannot endless labour, urg'd by need?) First Ceres taught the ground with grain to
And arm'd with iron shares the crooked plough; When now Dodonian oaks no more supplied Their mast, and trees their forest-fruits denied.
Soon was his labour doubled to the swain,
And blasting mildews blacken'd all his grain :
Though thistles chok'd the fields, and kill'd the
And an unthrifty crop of weeds was born:
Then burs and brambles, an unbidden crew
Of graceless guests th' unhappy field subdue;
And oats unblest, and darnel domineers,
And shoots its head above the shining ears;
So that, unless the land with daily care
Is exercis'd, and, with an iron war
Of rakes and harrows, the proud foes expell'd,
And birds with clamours frighted from the field;
Unless the boughs are lopp'd that shade the
And heav'n invok'd with vows for fruitful rain
On others' crops you may with envy look,
And shake for food the long-abandon'd oak.
Nor must we pass untold what arms they wield,
Who labour tillage and the furrow'd field;
Without whose aid the ground her corn denies,
And nothing can be sown, and nothing rise-
The crooked plough, the share, the tow'ring
Of wagons and the cart's unwieldly weight,
The sled, the tumbril, hurdles, and the flail,
The fan of Bacchus, with the flying sail-
These all must be prepar'd if ploughmen hope
The promis'd blessing of a bounteous crop.
Young elms, with early force, in copses bow,
Fit for the figure of the crooked plough.
Of eight feet long a fasten'd 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 harden'd in the smoke.
I could be long in precepts; but I fear
So mean a subject might offend your ear.
Delve of convenient depth your threshing
With temper'd clay, then fill and face it o'er;
And let the weighty roller run the round,
To smooth the surface of th' unequal ground;
Lest, crack'd with summer heats, the flooring
Or sinks, and through the crannies weeds arise:
For sundry foes the rural realm surround:
The field-mouse builds her garner under ground
For gather'd grain: the blind laborious mole
In winding mazes works her hidden hole :
In hollow caverns vermin make abode-
The hissing serpent, and the swelling toad:
The corn devouring weasel here abides,
And the wise ant her wintry store provides.
Mark well the flow'ring almonds in the wood: If od❜rous blooms the bearing branches load, The glebe will answer to the sylvan reign; Great heats will follow, and large crops of grain.
But, if a wood of leaves o'ershade the tree
Such and so barren will thy harvest be:
In vain the hind shall vex the threshing-floor
For empty chaff and straw will be thy store.
Some steep their seed, and some in caldrons
With vig'rous nitre and with lees of oil,
O'er gentle fires, th' exub'rant juice to drain,
And swell the flatt'ring husks with fruitful
Yet, the success is not for years assur'd,
Though chosen is the seed, and fully cur'd,
Unless the peasant, with his annual pain,
Renews his choice, and culls the largest grain.
Thus all below, whether by Nature's curse,
Or Fate's decree, degen'rate still to worse.
So the boat's brawny crew the current stem,
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
Nor must the ploughman less observe the skies,
When the Kids, Dragon, and Arcturus rise, Then sailors homeward bent, who cut their way
Thro' Helle's stormy straits, and oyster-breeding sea.
But, when Astrea's balance, hung on high,
Betwixt the nights and days divides the sky,
Then yoke your oxen, sow your winter grain,
Till cold December comes with driving rain.
Linseed 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,
When with his golden horns, in full career
The bull beats down the barriers of the year,
And Argo and the dog forsake the northern
But if your care to wheat alone extend,
Let Maia with her sisters first descend.
And the bright Gnossian diadem downward
Before you trust in earth your future hope;
Or else expect a listless lazy crop.
Some swains have sown before; but most have
Far on the right and left, th' extremes of heav'n
To frosts and snows and bitter blasts are giv'n:
Betwixt the midst and these, the gods assign'd
Two habitable seats for human kind,
And 'cross their limits, cut a sloping way,
Which the twelve signs in beauteous order
Two poles turn round the globe; one seen to ́O'er Scythian hills, and one in Libyan skies; The first sublime in heav'n, the last is whirl'd Below the regions of the nether world, Around our pole the spiry Dragon glides, And like a winding stream, the Bears dividesThe less and greater, who by Fate's decree Abhor to dive beneath the northern sea. There, as they say, perpetual night is found In silence brooding on th' unhappy ground: Or, when Aurora leaves our northern sphere She lights the downward heav'n, and rises there;
And, when on us she breathes 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;
Or when to fell the furzes : when 't is 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 continu'd rain
The lab'ring 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 shin-
Or hollow trees for boats, or number o'er
His sacks, or measure his increasing store,
Or sharpen stakes, or head the forks, or twine
The sallow twigs to tie the straggling vine;
Or wicker baskets weave, or air the corn,
Or grinded grain betwixt two marbles turn.
No laws, divine or human, can restrain,
From necessary works the lab'ring swain.
E'en holy days and feasts permission yield
To float the meadows, or to fence the field,
To fire the brambles, snare the birds, and steep
In wholesome waterfalls the woolly sheep.
And oft the drudging ass is driven, with toil,
To neighb'ring towns with apples and with oil;
Returning, late and laden, home with gain
Of barter'd pitch, and handmills for the grain.
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 arm'd against the skies, the sons of earth. With mountains pil'd on mountains, thrice they
To scale the steepy battlements of Jove;
And thrice his lightning and red thunder play'd,
And their demolish'd work in ruin laid.
The sev'nth is, next the tenth, the best to join
Young oxen to the yoke, and plant the vine.
Then, weavers, stretch your stays upon the
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.
Parch'd meads and stubble mow by Phoebe's
Which both require 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:
He sharpens torches in the glim❜ring room;
She shoots the flying shuttle through the loom,
Or boils in kettles must of wine, and skims,
With leaves, the dregs that overflow the brims;
And, till the watchful cock awakes the day,
She sings to drive the tedious hours away.
But, in warm weather, when the skies are
By daylight reap the product of the year;
And in the sun your golden grain display,
And thresh it out and winnow it by day.
Plough naked, swain, and naked sow the land;
For lazy winter numbs the lab'ring hand.
In genial winter, swains enjoy their store,
Forget their hardships, and recruit for more.
The farmer to full bowls invites his friends,
And, what he got with pains, with pleasure
So sailors, when escap'd from stormy seas,
First crown their vessels, then indulge their ease.
Yet that's the proper time to thresh the wood
For mast of oak, your father's homely food;
To gather laurel-berries, and the spoil
Of bloody myrtles, and to press your oil:
For stalking cranes to set the guileful snare;
T'inclose the stags in toils, and hunt the hare;
With Balearic slings, or Gnossian bow,
To persecute from far the flying doe,
Then, when the fleecy skies new clothe the wood,
And cakes of rustling ice come rolling down the
The father of the gods his glory shrouds,
Involv'd in tempests, and a night of clouds;
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 :
Deep horror seizes ev'ry human breast;
Their pride is humbled, and their fear confess'd,
While he from high his rolling thunder throws,
And fires the mountains with repeated blows:
The rocks are from their old foundations rent;
The winds redouble, and the rains augment:
The waves on heaps are dash'd against the
And now the woods, and now the billows, roar
In fear of this, observe the starry signs,
Where Saturn houses, and where Hermes joins.
But first to heav'n thy due devotions pay,
And annual gifts on Ceres' altar lay.
When winter's rage abates, when cheerful
Awake the spring, the spring awakes the flow'rs,
On the green turf thy careless limbs display,
And celebrate the mighty Mother's day:
For then the hills with pleasing shades are
And sleeps are sweeter on the silken ground:
With milder beams the sun serenely shines:
Fat are the lambs, and luscious are the wines.
Let ev'ry swain adore her pow'r 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,
Invoking plenty to their crowded floors.
Thus in the spring, and thus in summer's heat,
Before the sickles touch the rip'ning wheat,
On Ceres call; and let the lab'ring hind
With oaken wreaths his hollow temples bind:
With sweeping glories, and long trails of light;
And chaff with eddy-winds is whirl'd around,
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 engage,
And at their frontiers meet with equal rage,
The clouds are crush'd: a glut of gather'd 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.
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 wat❜ry face:
The frogs renew the croaks of their loquacious
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,
And, crying, seek the shelter of the wood.
Besides, the sev'ral sorts of wat❜ry 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
Then lave their backs with sprinkling dews in
And stem the stream to meet the promis'd rain.