So in old age, you happy man, your fields
will still be yours, and ample for your need!
Though, with bare stones o’erspread, the pastures all
be choked with rushy mire, your ewes with young
by no strange fodder will be tried, nor hurt
through taint contagious of a neighbouring flock.
Happy old man, who ‘mid familiar streams
and hallowed springs, will court the cooling shade!
Here, as of old, your neighbour’s bordering hedge,
that feasts with willow-flower the Hybla bees,
shall oft with gentle murmur lull to sleep,
while the leaf-dresser beneath some tall rock
uplifts his song, nor cease their cooings hoarse
the wood-pigeons that are your heart’s delight,
nor doves their moaning in the elm-tree top.
Sooner shall light stags, therefore, feed in air,
the seas their fish leave naked on the strand,
germans and Parthians shift their natural bounds,
and these the Arar, those the Tigris drink,
than from my heart his face and memory fade.
Ah! shall I ever in aftertime behold
my native bounds—see many a harvest hence
with ravished eyes the lowly turf-roofed cot
where I was king? These fallows, trimmed so fair,
some brutal soldier will possess these fields
an alien master. Ah! to what a pass
has civil discord brought our hapless folk!
The grim-eyed lioness pursues the wolf,
the wolf the she-goat, the she-goat herself
in wanton sport the flowering cytisus,
and Corydon Alexis, each led on
by their own longing. See, the ox comes home
with plough up-tilted, and the shadows grow
to twice their length with the departing sun,
yet me love burns, for who can limit love?
Eclogue III [alternate verses]
Gifts for my love I’ve found; mine eyes have marked
where the wood-pigeons build their airy nests.
Ten golden apples have I sent my boy,
all that I could, to-morrow as many more.
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.
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.
Prithee, Iollas, for my birthday guest
send me your Phyllis; when for the young crops
I slay my heifer, you yourself shall come.
I am all hers; she wept to see me go,
and, lingering on the word, ‘farewell’ she said,
‘My beautiful Iollas, fare you well.’
Fell as the wolf is to the folded flock,
rain to ripe corn, Sirocco to the trees,
the wrath of Amaryllis is to me.
As moisture to the corn, to ewes with young
lithe willow, as arbute to the yeanling kids,
so sweet Amyntas, and none else, to me.
Now the last age by Cumae’s Sibyl sung
has come and gone, and the majestic roll
of circling centuries begins anew:
Justice [or Virgin] 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,
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, … 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
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.
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,
As to trees the vine
is crown of glory, as to vines the grape,
bulls to the herd, to fruitful fields the corn,
so the one glory of thine own art thou.
When the Fates took thee hence, then Pales’ self,
and even Apollo, left the country lone.
Where the plump barley-grain so oft we sowed,
there but wild oats and barren darnel spring;
for tender violet and narcissus bright
thistle and prickly thorn uprear their heads.
Now, O ye shepherds, strew the ground with leaves,
and o’er the fountains draw a shady veil—
so Daphnis to his memory bids be done—
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.
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.
look where Dionean Caesar’s star comes forth
in heaven, to gladden all the fields with corn,
and to the grape upon the sunny slopes
her colour bring!