Eclogue IV – Virgil

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.

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Eclogue X – Virgil

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

The Aeneid, Book I – Virgil

Arms and the man I sing

Arms and the man I sing, who, forced by fate 

And haughty Juno’s unrelenting hate, 

Expelled and exiled, left the Trojan shore. 

Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore; 

And in the doubtful war, before he won 

The Latin realm and built the destined town, 

His banished gods restored to rights divine, 

And settled sure succession in his line; 

From whence the race of Alban fathers come, 

And the long glories of majestic Rome. 

O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate,— 

What goddess was provok’d, and whence her hate; 

For what offense the Queen of Heav’n began 

To persecute so brave, so just a man; 

Involv’d his anxious life in endless cares, 

Expos’d to wants, and hurried into wars! 

Can heav’nly minds such high resentment show, 

Or exercise their spite in human woe? 

Against the Tiber’s mouth, but far away, 

An ancient town was seated on the sea,— 

A Tyrian colony; the people made 

Stout for the war, and studious of their trade: 

Carthage the name; belov’d by Juno more 

Than her own Argos, or the Samian shore. 

Here stood her chariot; here, if Heav’n were kind, 

The seat of awful empire she design’d. 

Yet she had heard an ancient rumor fly, 

(Long cited by the people of the sky,) 

That times to come should see the Trojan race 

Her Carthage ruin, and her tow’rs deface; 

Nor thus confin’d, the yoke of sov’reign sway 

Should on the necks of all the nations lay. 

She ponder’d this, and fear’d it was in fate; 

Nor could forget the war she wag’d of late 

For conqu’ring Greece against the Trojan state. 

Besides, long causes working in her mind, 

And secret seeds of envy, lay behind; 

Deep graven in her heart the doom remain’d 

Of partial Paris, and her form disdain’d; 

The grace bestow’d on ravish’d Ganymed, 

Electra’s glories, and her injur’d bed. 

Each was a cause alone; and all combin’d 

To kindle vengeance in her haughty mind. 

For this, far distant from the Latian coast 

She drove the remnants of the Trojan host; 

And sev’n long years th’ unhappy wand’ring train 

Were toss’d by storms, and scatter’d thro’ the main. 

Such time, such toil, requir’d the Roman name, 

Such length of labor for so vast a frame. 

Now scarce the Trojan fleet with sails and oars 

Had left behind the fair Sicilian shores, 

Entering with cheerful shouts the watery reign, 

And plowing frothy furrows in the main, 

When, laboring still, with endless discontent 

The Queen of Heaven did thus her fury vent:— 

“Then am I vanquished? must I yield?” said she, 

“And must the Trojans reign in Italy?” 

So Fate will have it, and Jove adds his force; 

Nor can my power divert their happy course. 

Could angry Pallas, with revengeful spleen, 

The Grecian navy burn and drown the men? 

She, for the fault of one offending foe, 

The bolts of Jove himself presumed to throw; 

With whirlwinds from beneath she tossed the ship 

And bare exposed the bosom of the deep: 

Then, as an eagle gripes the trembling game, 

The wretch , yet hissing with her father’s flame, 

She strongly seized, and with a burning wound, 

Transfixed and naked, on a rock she bound. 

But I, who walked in awful state above, 

The majesty of heaven, the sister-wife of Jove, 

For length of years my fruitless force employ 

Against the thin remains of ruined Troy. 

What nations now to Juno’s power will pray, 

Or offerings on my slighted altars lay?”

First Georgic [Excerpt] – Virgil

When spring begins and the ice-locked streams begin 

To flow down from the snowy hills above 

And the clods begin to crumble in the breeze, 

The time has come for my groaning ox to drag 

My heavy plow across the fields, so that 

The plow blade shines as the furrow rubs against it. 

Not till the earth has been twice plowed, so twice 

Exposed to sun and twice to coolness will 

It yield what the farmer prays for; then will the barn 

Be full to bursting with the gathered grain, 

And yet if the field’s unknown and new to us, 

Before our plow breaks open the soil at all, 

It’s necessary to study the ways of the winds 

And the changing ways of the skies, and also to know 

The history of the planting in that ground, 

What crops will prosper there and what will not. 

In one place grain grows best, in another, vines; 

Another’s good for the cultivation of trees; 

In still another the grain turns green unbidden.

Eclogue VI – Virgil

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 – Virgil

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 to-day 

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 – Virgil

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.’