Page images
PDF
EPUB

The heavier earth is by her weight betray'd. The lighter in the poising hand is weigh'd. 'Tis easy to distinguish by the sight The colour of the soil, and black from white. But the cold ground is difficult to know; Yet this the plants, that prosper there, will show

Black ivy, pitch-trees, and the baleful yew.
These rules consider'd well, with early care
The vineyard destin'd for thy vines prepare:
But, long before the planting, dig the ground,
With furrows deep that cast a rising mound.
The clods, expos'd to winter winds, will bake;
For putrid earth will best the vineyards take;
And hoary frosts, after the painful toil
Of delving hinds, will rot the mellow soil.

Some peasants, not t' omit the nicest care,
Of the same soil their nursery prepare,
With that of their plantation; lest the tree,
Translated, should not with the soil agree.
Beside, to plant it as it was, they mark
The heav'ns four quarters on the tender bark,
And to the north or south restore the side,
Which at their birth did heat or cold abide :
So strong is custom; such effects can use
In tender souls of pliant plants produce.
Choose next a province for thy vineyard's
reign,

On hills above, or in the lowly plain.
If fertile fields or valleys be thy choice
Plant thick for bounteous Bacchus will rejoice
In close plantations there: but if the vine
On rising ground be plac'd, or hills supine,
Extend thy loose battalions largely wide,
Op'ning thy ranks and files on either side,
But marshall'd all in order as they stand;
And let no soldier straggle from his band.
As legions in the field their front display
To try the fortune of some doubtful day,
And move to meet their foes with sober pace,
Strict to their figure, though in wider space,
Before the battle joins, while from afar
The field yet glitters with the pomp of war,
And equal Mars, like an impartial lord,
Leaves all to fortune, and the dint of sword-
So let thy vines in intervals be set,
But not their rural discipline forget:
Indulge their width, and add a roomy space,
That their extremest lines may scarce embrace :
Nor this alone to indulge a vain delight,
And make a pleasing prospect for the sight;
But, for the ground itself, this only way,
Can equal vigour to the plants convey,
Which, crowded, want the room, their branches
to display.

How deep they must be planted, wouldst thou know?

In shallow furrows vines securely grow.

Not so the rest of plants; for Jove's own tree,

That holds the woods in awful sov'reignty,
Requires a depth of lodging in the ground,
And, next the lower skies, a bed profound:
High as his topmost boughs to heav'n ascend,
So low his roots to hell's dominions tend.
Therefore, nor winds, nor winter's range o'er-
throws

His bulky body; but unmov'd he grows:
For length of ages lasts his happy reign;
And lives of mortal man contend in vain.
Full in the midst of his own strength he stands,
Stretching his brawny arms, and leafy hands;
His shade protects the plains; his head the
hills commands.

The hurtful hazel in thy vineyard shun; Nor plant it to receive the setting sun; Nor break the topmost branches from the tree; Nor prune, with blunted knife, the progeny. Root up wild olives from thy labour'd lands; For sparkling fire, from hind's unwary hands, Is often scatter'd o'er their unctuous rinds, And after spread abroad by raging winds: For first the smould'ring flame the trunk receives;

Ascending thence, it crackles in the leaves;
At length victorious to the top aspires
Involving all the wood in smoky fires;
But most, when driven by winds, the flaming

storm

Of the long fires destroys the beauteous form.
In ashes then th' unhappy vineyard lies:
Nor will the blasted plants from ruin rise;
Nor will the wither'd stock be green again;
But the wild olive shoots, and shades th' un-
grateful plain.

Be not seduc'd with wisdom's empty shows,
To stir the peaceful ground when Boreas blows.
When winter frosts constrain the field with cold,
The fainty root can take no steady hold.
But, when the golden spring reveals the year,
And the white bird returns, whom serpents

fear,

That season deem the best to plant thy vines:
Next that, is when autumnal warmth declines,
Ere heat is quite decay'd or cold begun,
Or Capricorn admits the winter sun.

The spring adorns the woods, renews the leaves:

The womb of earth the genial seed receives :
For then Almighty Jove descends, and pours
Into his buxom bride his fruitful show'rs;
And, mixing his large limbs with hers, he feeds
Her births with kindly juice, and fosters teeming
seeds.

Then joyous birds frequent the lonely grove,
And beasts, by nature stung, renew their love.

[blocks in formation]

Nor could the tender new creation bear
Th' excessive heats or coldness of the year,
But, chill'd by winter, or by summer fir'd,
The middle temper of the spring requir'd,
When warmth and moisture did at once abound,
And heaven's indulgence brooded on the ground.

For what remains, in depth of earth secure Thy cover'd plants, and dung with hot manure; And shells and gravel in the ground enclose; For through their hollow chinks the water flows, Which, thus imbib'd, returns in misty dews, And, steaming up, the rising plant renews. Some husband nen, of late have found the way, A hilly heap of stones above to lay, And press the plants with shards of potter's clay. This fence against immod❜rate rain they found, Or, when the Dog-star cleaves the thirsty ground.

Be mindful, when thou hast entomb'd the shoot,
With store of earth around to feed the root;
With iron teeth of rakes and prongs, to move
The crusted earth, and loosen it above.
Then exercise thy sturdy steers to plough
Betwixt thy vines, and teach the feeble row
To mount on reeds, and wands, and, upward led,
On ashen poles to raise their forky head.
On these new crutches let them learn to walk,
Till, swerving upwards with a stronger stalk,
They brave the winds, and, clinging to their
guide,

On tops of elms at length triumphant ride.
But, in their tender nonage, while they spread
Their springing leaves, and lift their infant
head,

And upward while they shoot in open air,
Indulge their childhood, and the nurslings spare;
Nor exercise thy rage on new-born life :
Nor let thy hand supply the pruning-knife,
And crop luxuriant stragglers, nor be loth
To strip the branches of their leafy growth.
But, when the rooted vines, with steady hold,
Can clasp their elms, then, husbandmen, be bold
To lop the disobedient boughs, that staid
Beyond their ranks; let crooked steel invade
The lawless troops, which discipline disclaim,
And their superfluous growth with rigour tame.
Next, fenc'd with hedges and deep ditches
round,

Exclude th' enroaching cattle from thy ground,
While yet
the tender gems but just appear,
Unable to sustain th' uncertain year;
Whose leaves are not alone foul winter's prey,
But oft by summer suns are scorch'd away.
And worse than both, become th' unworthy
browse

Of buffaloes, salt goats, and hungry cows.
For not December's frost that burns the boughs,
Nor dog-days' parching heat that splits the
rocks,

Are half so harmful as the greedy flocks,

Their venom❜d bite, and scars indented on the stocks.

For this, the malefactor goat was laid
On Bacchus' altar, and his forfeit paid.
At Athens thus old comedy began,
When round the streets the reeling actors ran,
In country villages, and crossing ways,
Contending for the prizes of their plays;
And, glad with Bacchus, on the grassy soil,
Leap'd o'er the skins of goats besmear'd with oil.
Thus Roman youth, deriv'd from ruin'd Troy,
In rude Saturnian rhymes express their joy:
With taunts, and laughter loud, their audience
please,

Deform'd with vizards, cut from barks of trees:
In jolly hymns they praise the god of wine,
Whose earthen images adorn the pine,
And there are hung on high, in honour of the
vine.

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]

E'en when they sing at ease in full content
Insulting o'er the toils they underwent,
Yet still they find a future task remain,
To turn the soil, and break the clods again:
And, after all, their joys are insincere,
While falling rains on ripening grapes they fear.
Quite opposite to these are olives found:
No dressing they require, and dread no wound,
Nor rakes nor harrows need; but fix'd below
Rejoice in open air, and unconcern'dly grow.
The soil itself due nourishment supplies:
Plough but the furrows, and the fruits arise,
Content with small endeavours, till they spring,
Soft peace they figure, and sweet plenty bring:
Then olives plant, and hymns to Pallas sing.
Thus apple-trees, whose trunks are strong to
bear

Their spreading boughs, exert themselves in air,
Want no supply, but stand secure alone,
Not trusting foreign forces, but their own,
Till with the ruddy freight the bending branches
groan.

Thus trees of nature, and each common bush, Uncultivated thrive, and with red berries blush.

[blocks in formation]

And wear green forests on their hilly head. Though bending from the blast of eastern storms,

Tho' shent their leaves, and shatter'd are their arms,

Yet heav'n their various plants for use designsFor houses, cedars-and, for shipping, pinesCypress provides for spokes and wheels of wains,

And all for keels of ships, that scour the wat'ry plains.

Willows in twigs are fruitful, elms in leaves; The war, from stubborn myrtle, shafts receives

From cornels, javelins; and the tougher yew
Receives the bending figure of a bow.
Nor box, nor limes without their use are made,
Smooth grain'd, and proper for the turner's
trade:
Which curious hands may carve, and steel with
ease invade.

Light alder stems the Po's impetuous tide,
And bees in hollow oaks their honey hide.
Now balance with these gifts, the fumy joys
Of wine, attended with eternal noise.
Wine urg'd to lawless lust the Centaurs' train:
Thro' wine they arrel'd, and thro' wine were

slain.

O happy, if he knew his happy state, The swain, who, free from bus'ness and debate Receives his easy food from Nature's hand, And just returns of cultivated land! No palace, with a lofty gate, he wants, T'admit the tides of early visitants, With eager eyes devouring as they pass, The breathing figures of Corinthian brass. No statues threaten, from high pedestals; No Persian arras hides his homely walls,

With antic vests, which, through their shady fold,

Betray the streaks of ill-dissembled gold:
He boasts no wool, whose native white is dy'd
With purple poison of Assyrian pride:
No costly drugs of Araby defile,

With foreign scents, the sweetness of his oil:
But easy quiet, a secure retreat,
A harmless life that knows not how to cheat;
With home-bred plenty, the rich owner bless;
And rural pleasures crown his happiness.
Unvex'd with quarrels, undisturb'd with noise,
The country king his peaceful realm enjoys-
Cool grots, and living lakes, the flow'ry pride
Of meads, and streams that through the valley
glide,

And shady groves that easy sleep invite,
And, after toilsome days, a soft repose at night.
Wild beasts of nature in his woods abound;
And youth, of labour patient, plough the ground,
Inur'd to hardship, and to homely fare
Nor venerable age is wanting there,
In great examples to the youthful train;
Nor are the gods ador'd with rites profane.
From hence Astræa took her flight; and here
The prints of her departing steps appear.

Ye sacred Muses! with whose beauty fir'd,
My soul is ravish'd, and my brain inspir'd-
Whose priest I am, whose holy fillets wear-
Would you your poet's first petition hear;
Give me the ways of wand'ring stars to know,
The depths of heav'n above, and earth below:
Teach me the various labours of the moon,
And whence proceed th' eclipses of the sun:
Why flowing tides prevail upon the main,
And in what dark recess they shrink again;
What shakes the solid earth; what cause delays
The summer nights, and shortens winter days.
But, if my heavy blood restrain the flight
Of my
free soul, aspiring to the height
Of nature, and unclouded fields of light-
My next desire is, void of care and stife,
To lead a soft, secure, inglorious life—
A country cottage near a crystal flood,
A winding valley, and a lofty wood.
Some god conduct me to the sacred shades,
Where Bacchanals are sung by Spartan maids,
Or lift me high to Hamus' hilly crown,
Or in the plains of Tempe lay me down,
Or lead me to some solitary place,
And cover my retreat from human race.
Happy the man, who, studying Nature's
laws,
Through known effects can trace the secret

cause

His mind, possessing in a quiet state, Fearless of Fortune, and resign'd to Fate! And happy too is he, who decks the bow'rs Of Sylvans, and adores the rural pow'rs

Whose mind, unmov'd, the bribes of courts can

see,

Their glitt'ring baits, and purple slaveryNor hopes the people's praise, nor fears their frown,

Nor, when contending kindred tear the crown, Will set up one, or pull another down.

Without concern he hears, but hears from far,
Of tumults, and descents, and distant war;
Nor with a superstitious fear is aw'd,
For what befalls at home, or what abroad.
Nor envies he the rich their heapy store,
Nor his own peace disturbs with pity for the
poor.

He feeds on fruits, which, of their own accord
The willing ground and laden trees afford,
From his lov'd home no lucre him can draw;
The senate's mad decrees he never saw;
Nor heard, at bawling bars, corrupted law.
Some to the seas, and some to camps, resort,
And some with impudence invade the court:
In foreign countries, others seek renown;
With wars and taxes, others waste their own,
And houses burn, and household gods deface,
To drink in bowls which glitt'ring gems enchase,
To loll on couches, rich with citron steds,
And lay their guilty limbs on Tyrian beds
This wretch in earth entombs his golden ore,
Hov'ring and brooding on his buried store.
Some patriot fools to pop'lar praise aspire
Of public speeches, which worse fools admire,
While,from both benches, with redoubled sounds,
Th' applause of lords and commoners abounds.
Some, through ambition, or through thirst of gold,
Have slain their brothers, or their country sold,
And, leaving their sweet homes, in exile run
To lands that lie beneath another sun.

The peasant, innocent of all these ills,
With crooked ploughs the fertile fallow tills,
And the round year with daily labour fills:
And hence the country markets are supplied:
Enough remains for houehold charge beside,
His wife and tender children to sustain,
And gratefully to feed his dumb deserving train.
Nor cease his labours till the yellow field
A full return of bearded harvest yield-
A crop so plenteous, as the land to load,
O'ercome the crowded barns, and lodge on ricks
abroad.

Thus ev'ry several season is employ'd,
Some spent in toil, and some in ease enjoy'd.
The yeaning ewes prevent the springing year:
The laded boughs their fruits in autumn bear:
'Tis then the vine her liquid harvest yields,
Bak'd in the sunshine of ascending fields.
The winter comes; and then the falling mast
For greedy swine provides a full repast:
Then olives, ground in mills, their fatness boast;
And winter fruits are mellow'd by the frost.

His cares are eas'd with intervals of bliss;
His little children climbing for a kiss,
Welcome their father's late return at night,
His faithful bed is crown'd with chaste delight;
His kine with swelling udders ready stand,
And, lowing for the pail, invite the milker's hand.
His wanton kids, with budding horns prepar'd
Fight harmless battles in his homely yard:
Himself, in rustic pomp, on holy-days,
To rural pow'rs a just oblation pays,
And on the green his careless limbs displays.
The hearth is in the midst: the herdsmen
round

The cheerful fire, provoke his health in goblets crown'd.

"

He calls on Bacchus, and propounds the prize:
The groom his fellow groom at buts defies,
And bends his bow, and levels with his eyes.
Or, stript for wrestling, smears his limbs with

oil,

And watches, with a trip, his foe to foil.
Such was the life the frugal Sabines led
So Remus and his brother god were bred,
From whom th' austere Etrurian virtue rose;
And this rude life our homcly fathers chose.
Old Rome from such a race deriv'd her birth,
(The seat of empire, and the conquer'd earth)
Which now on sev'n high hills triumphant
reigns,

And in that compass all the world contains.
Ere Saturn's rebel son usurp'd the skies,
When beasts were only slain for sacrifice,
While peaceful Crete enjoy'd her ancient lord,
Ere sounding hammers forg'd th' inhuman sword,
Ere hollow drums were beat, before the breath
Of brazen trumpets rung the peals of death,
The good old god his hunger did assuage
With roots and herbs, and gave the golden age.
But, over-labour'd with so long a course,
'Tis time to set at ease the smoking horse.

GEORGIC III.

ARGUMENT.

This book begins with the invocation of some rural deities, and a compliment to Augustus: after which Virgil directs himself to Mæcenas, and enters on his subject. He lays down rules for the breeding and management of horses, oxen, sheep, gorts, and dogs; and interweaves several pleasant descriptions of a chariot-race, of the battle of the bulls, of the force of love, and of the Scythian winter. In the latter part of the book, he relates the diseases incident to cattle: and ends with the description of a fatal murrain that formerly raged among the Alps.

THY fields, propitious Pales, I rehearse ; And sing thy pastures in no vulgar verse, Amphrysian shepherd! the Lycæan woods, Arcadia's flow'ry plains, and pleasing floods.

All other themes, that careless minds invite, Are worn with use, unworthy me to write. Busiris' altars, and the dire decrees Of hard Eurystheus ev'ry reader sees: Hylas the boy, Latona's erring isle, And Pelops' iv'ry shoulder, and his toil For fair Hippodame, with all the rest Of Grecian tales, by poets are express'd. New ways I must attempt, my grov'ling name To raise aloft, and wing my flight to fame.

I, first of Romans, shall in triumph come From conquer'd Greece, and bring her trophies home,

With foreign spoils adorn my native place,
And with Idume's palms my Mantua grace.
Of Parian stone a temple will I raise,
Where the slow Mincius through the valley
strays,

Where cooling streams invite the flocks to drink,

And reeds defend the winding water's brink.
Full in the midst shall mighty Cæsar stand,
Hold the chief honours, and the dome command.
Then I, conspicuous in my Tyrian gown,
(Submitting to his godhead my renown)
A hundred coursers from the goal will drive:
The rival chariots in the race shall strive.
All Greece shall flock from far, my games to see:
The whorlbat, and the rapid race, shall be
Reserv'd for Cæsar, and ordain'd by me.
Myself, with olive crown'd, the gifts will bear.
E'en now methinks the public shouts I hear,
The passing pageants, and the pomps appear.
I to the temple will conduct the crew,
The sacrifice, and sacrificers view,
From thence return, attended with my train,
Where the proud theatres disclose the scene,
Which interwoven Britons seem to raise,
And show the triumph which their shame dis-

plays.

High o'er the gate, in elephant and gold,
The crowd shall Cæsar's Indian war behold:
The Nile shall flow beneath; and, on the side,
His shatter'd ships on brazen pillars ride.
Next him Niphates, with inverted urn,
And dropping sedge, shall his Armenia mourn;
And Asian cities in our triumph borne.
With backward bows the Parthians shall be
there,

And, spurring from the fight, confess their fear.
A double wreath shall crown our Cæsar's

browsTwo diff'rent trophies, from two diff'rent foes. Europe with Afric in his fame shall join; But neither shore his conquests shall confine. The Parian marble there shall seem to move In breathing statues, not unworthy Jove, Resembling heroes, whose ethereal root Is Jove himself, and Cæsar is the fruit.

« EelmineJätka »