Page images








The occasion of the first pastoral was this. Augustus had settled himself in the Roman empire, that he might reward his veteran troops for their past service, he distributed among them all the lands that lay about Cremona and Mantua; turning out the right owners for having sided with his enemies. Virgil was a sufferer among the rest; who afterwards recovered his estate by Mæcenas's intercession, and, as an instance of his gratitude, composed the following pastoral, where he sets out his own good fortune in the person of Tityrus, and the calamities of his Mantuan neighbours in the character of Melibus.


These blessings, friend, a deity bestow'd;
For never can I deem him less than God.
The tender firstlings of my woolly breed
Shall on his holy altar often bleed.

He gave me kine to graze the flow'ry plain,
And to my pipe renew'd the rural strain.

And the hoarse raven, on the blasted bough,
By croaking from the left, presaged the coming

But tell me, Tityrus, what heavenly pow'r
Preserv'd your fortune in that fatal hour?


I envy not your fortune but admire,
That, while the raging sword and wasteful fire
Destroy the wretched neighbourhood around,
No hostile arms approach your happy ground.
Far diff'rent is my fate: my feeble goats
With pains I drive from their forsaken cotes.
And this, you see, I scarcely drag along,
Who, yeaning, on the rocks has left her young;
The hope and promise of my falling fold.
My loss, by dire portents the gods foretold;
For, had I not been blind, I might have seen :-
Yon riven oak, the fairest of the green,


Fool that I was, I thought imperial Rome
Like Mantua, where on market days we come,
And thither drive our tender lambs from home.
So kids and whelps their sires and dams ex-




What great occasion call'd you hence to Rome? BENEATH the shade which beechen boughs Freedom, which came at length, tho' slow to diffuse,

You, Tityrus, entertain your sylvan muse.
Round the wide world in banishment we roam,
Forc'd from our pleasing fields and native
While, stretch'd at ease, you sing your happy
And Amaryllis fills the shady groves.

And so the great I measur'd by the less.
But country towns, compar'd with her, appear
Like shrubs, when lofty cypresses are near.


Nor did my search of liberty begin,

Till my black hairs were chang'd upon my

Nor Amaryllis would vouchsafe a look,
Till Galatea's meaner bonds I broke
Till then a helpless, hopeless, homely swain,
I sought not freedom, nor aspired to gain :
Though many a victim from my folds was

And many a cheese to country markets brought,
Yet all the little that I got, I spent,
And still returned as empty as I went.


We stood amaz'd to see your mistress mourn,
Unknowing that she pin'd for your return:
We wonder'd why she kept her fruit so long,
For whom so late th' ungather'd apples hung.
But now the wonder ceases, since I see
She kept them only, Tityrus, for thee.
For thee the bubbling springs appear'd to mourn,
And whisp'ring pines made vows for thy re-



What should I do?-While here I was enchain'd

No glimpse of godlike liberty remain'd;

Nor could I hope, in any place but there,
To find a god so present to my pray'r.
There first the youth of heavenly birth I view'd,
For whom our monthly victims are renew'd.
He heard my vows, and graciously decreed
My grounds to be restor'd, my former flocks to


O fortunate old man! whose farm remains— For you sufficient and requires your pains; Though rushes overspread the neighb'ring plains,

Though here the marshy grounds approach your
And there the soil a stony harvest yields. [fields,
Your teeming ewes shall no strange meadows

Nor fear a rot from tainted company,
Behold! yon bord'ring fence of sallow trees
Is fraught with flow'rs, the flow'rs are fraught
with bees.

The busy bees, with a soft murmuring strain, Invite to gentle sleep the lab'ring swain. [songs, While, from the neighb'ring rock, with rural The pruner's voice the pleasing dream prolongs, Stock-doves and turtles tell their am'rous pain, And from the lofty elms, of love complain.


Th' inhabitants of seas and skies shall change,
And fish on shore, and stags in air shall range,
The banish'd Parthiau dwell on Arar's brink,
And the blue German shall the Tigris drink,
Ere I, forsaking gratitude and truth,
Forget the figure of that godlike youth.


But we must beg our bread in climes unknown,
Beneath the scorching or the freezing zone :
And some to far Oaxis shall be sold,
Or try the Libyan heat, or Scythian cold;
The rest among the Britons be confin'd;
A race of men from all the world disjoin'd.
O! must the wretched exiles ever mourn,
Nor, after length of rolling years, return?
Are we condemn'd by fate's unjust decree,
No more our houses and our homes to see?
Or shall we mount again the rural throne,
And rule the country kingdoms once our own;
Did we for these barbarians plant and sow?
On these, on these, our happy fields bestow?
Good heaven! what dire effects from civil dis-
cord flow!

Now let me graft my pears, and prune the vine;
The fruit is theirs, the labour only mine.
Farewell, my pastures, my paternal stock,
My fruitful fields, and my more fruitful flock!
No more, my goats, shall I behold you climb
The steepy cliffs, or crop the flow'ry thyme!
No more extended in the grot below,
Shall see you browsing on the mountain's brow

The prickly shrubs; and after on the bare,
Leap down the deep abyss, and hang in air.
No more my sheep shall sip the morning dew;
No more my song shall please the rural crew:
Adieu my tuneful pipe! and all the world, adieu!


This night, at least, with me forget your care,
Chestnuts, and curds, and cream shall be your
The carpet-ground shall be with leaves o'er-
And boughs shall weave a cov'ringfor your head.
For see, yon sunny hill the shade extends;
And curling smoke from cottages ascends.





The commentators can by no means agree on the person of Alexis, but are all of opinion that some beautiful youth is meant by him, to whom Virgil here makes love, in Corydon's language and simplicity. His way of courtship is wholly pastoral; he complains of the boy's coyness; recommends himself for his beauty and skill in piping; invites the youth into the country, where he promises him the diversions of the place, with a suitable present of nuts and apples. But when he finds nothing will prevail, he resolved to quit his troublesome amour, and betake himself again to his former business.

YOUNG Corydon th' unhappy shepherd swain,
The fair Alexis lov'd, but lov'd in vain ;
And underneath the beechen shade, alone,
Thus to the woods and mountains made his moan:
Is this, unkind Alexis, my reward?
And must I die unpitied and unheard?
Now the green lizard in the grove is laid;
The sheep enjoy the coolness of the shade;
And Thestylis wild thyme and garlic beats
For harvest hinds, o'erspent with toil and heats;
While in the scorching sun I trace in vain
Thy flying footsteps o'er the burning plain.
The creaking locusts with my voice conspire,
They fried with heat, and I with fierce desire.
How much more easy was it to sustain
Proud Amaryllis, and her haughty reign,
The scorns of young Menalcas, once my care,
Though he was black, and thou art heavenly

Trust not too much to that enchanting face! Beauty's a charm; but soon the charm will pass.

White lilies lie neglected on the plain,
While dusky hyacinths for use remain.
My passion is thy scorn; nor wilt thou know
What wealth I have, what gifts I can bestow;
What stores my dairies and my folds contain-
A thousand lambs that wander on the plain;

[ocr errors]

New milk, that, all the winter, never fails
And, all the summer, overflows the pails.
Amphion sung not sweeter to his herd,
When summon'd stones the Theban turrets

Nor am I so deform'd; for, late I stood
Upon the margin of the briny flood:
The winds were still; and, if the glass be true,
With Daphnis I may vie, though judg'd by you.
O leave the noisy town: O come and see
Our country cots, and live content with me!
To wound the flying deer, and from their cotes
With me to drive a-field the browsing goats;
To pipe and sing, and, in our country strain,
To copy or perhaps contend with Pan.
Pan taught to join with wax unequal reeds;
Pan loves the shepherds, and their flocks he

Nor scorn the pipe: Amyntas, to be taught,
With all his kisses would my skill have bought.
Of seven smooth joints, a mellow pipe I have,
Which, with his dying breath, Damotas gave,
And said, "this, Corydon, I leave to thee;
For only thou deserv'st it after me."
His eyes Amyntas durst not upward lift;
For much he grudg'd the praise, but more the

Besides, two kids, that in the valley stray'd,
I found by chance, and to my fold convey'd,
They drain two bagging udders ev'ry day;
And these shall be companions of thy play:
Both fleck'd with white, the true Arcadian

Which Thestylis had often begg'd in vain :
And she shall have them, if again she sues,
Since you the giver and the gift refuse.
Come to my longing arms, my lovely care!
And take the presents which thy nymphs pre-


White lilies in full canisters they bring,
With all the glories of the purple spring.
The daughters of the flood have search'd the


Ah, Corydon! ah poor unhappy swain!
Alexis will thy homely gifts disdain:
Nor, should'st thou offer all thy little store,
Will rich Iolas yield, but offer more.
What have I done, to name that wealthy


Such as my Amaryllis us'd to love.

The laurel and the myrtle sweets agree;
And both in nosegays shall be bound for thee.

So powerful are his presents, mine so mean!
The boar amidst my crystal streams I bring;
And southern winds to blast my flowery spring.
Ah cruel creature! whom dost thou despise ?
The gods, to live in woods, have left the skies;
And godlike Paris, in the Idæan grove,
To Priam's wealth preferr'd Enone's love.
In cities which she built, let Pallas reign;
Tow'rs are for gods, but forests for the swain.
The greedy lioness the wolf pursues,
The wolf the kid, the wanton kid the browse;
Alexis, thou art chas'd by Corydon :
All follow sev'ral games, and each his own.
See, from afar the fields no longer smoke;
The sweating steers, unharness'd from the yoke,
Bring, as in triumph, back the crooked plough;
The shadows lengthen as the sun goes
Cool breezes now the raging heats remove :
Ah, cruel heav'n! that made no cure for love!
I wish for balmy sleep, but wish in vain :
Love has no bounds in pleasure, or in pain.
What frenzy, shepherd, has thy soul possess'd?
Thy vineyard lies half prun'd and half undress'd.
Quench, Corydon, thy long unanswered fire!
Mind what the common wants of life require,
On willow twigs employ thy weaving care;
And find an easier love, though not so fair.





Damætas and Manaclas, after some smart strokes of country railery, resolve to try who has the most skill at song; and accordingly make their neighbour Palæmon judge of their performances; who, after a full hearing of both parties,declares himself unfit for the decision of so weighty a controversy and leaves the victory undetermined.

For violets pale, and cropp'd the poppy's head,
The short narcissus and fair daffodil,
Pansies to please the sight, and cassia sweet to

And set soft hyacinths with iron-blue,
To shade marsh marigolds of shining hue;
Some bound in order, others loosely strew'd,
To dress thy bow'r, and trim thy new abode.
Myself will search our planted grounds at home, Ho, swain! what shepherd owns those ragged
For downy peaches and the glossy plum:
And thrash the chestnuts in the neighb'ring




Egon's they are: he gave them me to keep.


Unhappy sheep of an unhappy swain!
While he Nera courts, but courts in vain,

[blocks in formation]

Both number twice a day the milky dams
And once she takes the tale of all the lambs.
But, since you will be mad, and since you may
Suspect my courage, if I should not lay,
The pawn I proffer shall be full as good:
Two bowls I have, well turn'd, of beechen wood:
Both by divine Alcimedon were made:
To neither of them yet the lip is laid.
The lids are ivy: grapes in clusters lurk
Beneath the carving of the curious work.
Two figures on the sides emboss'd appear-
Conon, and, what's his name, who made the

And show'd the seasons of the sliding year,
Instructed in his trade the lab'ring swain,
And when to reap, and when to sow the grain?


And I have two, to match your pair, at home;
The wood the same; from the same hand they

[blocks in formation]


From the great father of the gods above
My Muse begins; for all is full of Jove;
To Jove the care of heav'n and earth belongs;
My flocks he blesses, and he loves my songs.



That should be seen, if I had one to make.
You know too weil I feed my father's flock:
What can I wager from the common stock?
A stepdame too I have, a cursed she,
Who rules my hen-peck'd sire, and orders me; My blushing hyacinths and my bays I keep.

Me Phœbus loves; for he my Muse inspires;
And, in her songs, the warmth he gave, requires.
For him, the god of shepherds and their sheep,

[blocks in formation]
« EelmineJätka »