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The Georgics   By: (70 BC - 19 BC)

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29 BC

THE GEORGICS

by Virgil

GEORGIC I

What makes the cornfield smile; beneath what star Maecenas, it is meet to turn the sod Or marry elm with vine; how tend the steer; What pains for cattle keeping, or what proof Of patient trial serves for thrifty bees; Such are my themes. O universal lights Most glorious! ye that lead the gliding year Along the sky, Liber and Ceres mild, If by your bounty holpen earth once changed Chaonian acorn for the plump wheat ear, And mingled with the grape, your new found gift, The draughts of Achelous; and ye Fauns To rustics ever kind, come foot it, Fauns And Dryad maids together; your gifts I sing. And thou, for whose delight the war horse first Sprang from earth's womb at thy great trident's stroke, Neptune; and haunter of the groves, for whom Three hundred snow white heifers browse the brakes, The fertile brakes of Ceos; and clothed in power, Thy native forest and Lycean lawns, Pan, shepherd god, forsaking, as the love Of thine own Maenalus constrains thee, hear And help, O lord of Tegea! And thou, too, Minerva, from whose hand the olive sprung; And boy discoverer of the curved plough; And, bearing a young cypress root uptorn, Silvanus, and Gods all and Goddesses, Who make the fields your care, both ye who nurse The tender unsown increase, and from heaven Shed on man's sowing the riches of your rain: And thou, even thou, of whom we know not yet What mansion of the skies shall hold thee soon, Whether to watch o'er cities be thy will, Great Caesar, and to take the earth in charge, That so the mighty world may welcome thee Lord of her increase, master of her times, Binding thy mother's myrtle round thy brow, Or as the boundless ocean's God thou come, Sole dread of seamen, till far Thule bow Before thee, and Tethys win thee to her son With all her waves for dower; or as a star Lend thy fresh beams our lagging months to cheer, Where 'twixt the Maid and those pursuing Claws A space is opening; see! red Scorpio's self His arms draws in, yea, and hath left thee more Than thy full meed of heaven: be what thou wilt For neither Tartarus hopes to call thee king, Nor may so dire a lust of sovereignty E'er light upon thee, howso Greece admire Elysium's fields, and Proserpine not heed Her mother's voice entreating to return Vouchsafe a prosperous voyage, and smile on this My bold endeavour, and pitying, even as I, These poor way wildered swains, at once begin, Grow timely used unto the voice of prayer. In early spring tide, when the icy drip Melts from the mountains hoar, and Zephyr's breath Unbinds the crumbling clod, even then 'tis time; Press deep your plough behind the groaning ox, And teach the furrow burnished share to shine. That land the craving farmer's prayer fulfils, Which twice the sunshine, twice the frost has felt; Ay, that's the land whose boundless harvest crops Burst, see! the barns. But ere our metal cleave An unknown surface, heed we to forelearn The winds and varying temper of the sky, The lineal tilth and habits of the spot, What every region yields, and what denies. Here blithelier springs the corn, and here the grape, There earth is green with tender growth of trees And grass unbidden. See how from Tmolus comes The saffron's fragrance, ivory from Ind, From Saba's weakling sons their frankincense, Iron from the naked Chalybs, castor rank From Pontus, from Epirus the prize palms O' the mares of Elis. Such the eternal bond And such the laws by Nature's hand imposed On clime and clime, e'er since the primal dawn When old Deucalion on the unpeopled earth Cast stones, whence men, a flinty race, were reared. Up then! if fat the soil, let sturdy bulls Upturn it from the year's first opening months, And let the clods lie bare till baked to dust By the ripe suns of summer; but if the earth Less fruitful just ere Arcturus rise With shallower trench uptilt it 'twill suffice; There, lest weeds choke the crop's luxuriance, here, Lest the scant moisture fail the barren sand... Continue reading book >>






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