The First Pastoral or, Tityrus and Melibaeus

THE FIRST PASTORAL

OR, TITYRUS AND MELIBoeUS

M ELIBoeUS

Beneath the shade which beechen boughs diffuse,
You, Tit'rus, entertain your sylvan Muse:
Round the wide world in banishment we roam,
Forc'd from our pleasing fields and native home;
While, stretch'd at ease, you sing your happy loves,
And Amaryllis fills the shady groves.

T ITYRUS

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

M ELIBoeUS

I envy not your fortune, but admire,
That, while the raging sword and wasteful fire
Destroy the wretched neighborhood 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 failing 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;
And the hoarse raven, on the blasted bough,
By croaking from the left, presag'd the coming blow.
But tell me, Tityrus, what heav'nly power
Preserv'd your fortunes in that fatal hour?

T ITYRUS

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

M ELIBoeUS

What great occasion call'd you hence to Rome?

T ITYRUS

Freedom, which came at length, tho' slow to come.
Nor did my search of liberty begin,
Till my black hairs were chang'd upon my chin;
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 aspir'd to gain:
Tho' many a victim from my folds was bought,
And many a cheese to country markets brought,
Yet all the little that I got, I spent,
And still return'd as empty as I went.

M ELIBoeUS

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 return.

T ITYRUS

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 heav'nly 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 feed.

M ELIBoeUS

O fortunate old man! whose farm remains
For you sufficient, and requites your pains;
Tho' rushes overspread the neighb'ring plains,
Tho' here the marshy grounds approach your fields,
And there the soil a stony harvest yields.
Your teeming ewes shall no strange meadows try,
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 murm'ring strain,
Invite to gentle sleep the lab'ring swain;
While, from the neighb'ring rock, with rural songs,
The pruner's voice the pleasing dream prolongs;
Stockdoves and turtles tell their am'rous pain,
And, from the lofty elms, of love complain.

T ITYRUS

Th' inhabitants of seas and skies shall change,
And fish on shore and stags in air shall range,
The banish'd Parthian 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.

M ELIBoeUS

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 Heav'n! what dire effects from civil discord flow!
Now let me graff my pears, and prune the vine;
The fruit is theirs, the labor 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,
Lean 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!

T ITYRUS

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