The Third Book of the Georgics


Thy fields, propitious Pales, I rehearse;
And sing thy pastures in no vulgar verse,
Amphrysian shepherd; the Lycaean 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 groveling 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 thro' 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 Caesar stand,
Hold the chief honors, 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 Caesar, and ordain'd by me.
Myself, with olive crown'd, the gifts will bear:
Ev'n 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 theaters disclose the scene,
Which interwoven Britons seem to raise,
And shew the triumph which their shame displays.
High o'er the gate in elephant and gold,
The crowd shall Caesar'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 Caesar's brows:
Two differing trophies, from two different foes.
Europe with Afric in his fame shall join;
But neither shore his conquest 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 Caesar is the fruit.
Tros and his race the sculptor shall employ;
And he, the god, who built the walls of Troy.
Envy herself at last, grown pale and dumb,
(By Caesar combated and overcome,)
Shall give her hands, and fear the curling snakes
Of lashing Furies, and the burning lakes;
The pains of famish'd Tantalus shall feel,
And Sisyphus, that labors up the hill
The rolling rock in vain; and curst Ixion's wheel.
Meantime we must pursue the sylvan lands,
(Th' abode of nymphs,) untouch'd by former hands;
For such, Maecenas, are thy hard commands.
Without thee, nothing lofty can I sing:
Come then, and with thyself thy genius bring,
With which inspir'd, I brook no dull delay:
Cithaeron loudly calls me to my way;
Thy hounds, Taygetus, open, and pursue their prey.
High Epidaurus urges on my speed,
Fam'd for his hills, and for his horses' breed:
From hills and dales the cheerful cries rebound;
For Echo hunts along, and propagates the sound.
A time will come, when my maturer Muse
In Caesar's wars a nobler theme shall choose,
And thro' more ages bear my sovereign's praise,
Than have from Tithon pass'd to Caesar's days.
The generous youth, who, studious of the prize,
The race of running coursers multiplies,
Or to the plow the sturdy bullock breeds,
May know that from the dam the worth of each proceeds.
The mother cow must wear a low'ring look,
Sour-headed, strongly neck'd, to bear the yoke.
Her double dewlap from her chin descends,
And at her thighs the pond'rous burthen ends.
Long are her sides and large; her limbs are great;
Rough are her ears, and broad her horny feet;
Her color shining black, but fleck'd with white.
She tosses from the yoke; provokes the fight:
She rises in her gait, is free from fears,
And in her face a bull's resemblance bears.
Her ample forehead with a star is crown'd,
And with her length of tail she sweeps the ground.
The bull's insult at four she may sustain;
But, after ten, from nuptial rites refrain.
Six seasons use; but then release the cow,
Unfit for love, and for the lab'ring plow.
Now, while their youth is fill'd with kindly fire,
Submit thy females to the lusty sire:
Watch the quick motions of the frisking tail;
Then serve their fury with the rushing male,
Indulging pleasure, lest the breed should fail.
In youth alone, unhappy mortals live;
But, ah! the mighty bliss is fugitive:
Discolor'd sickness, anxious labors, come,
And age, and death's inexorable doom.
Yearly thy herds in vigor will impair.
Recruit and mend 'em with thy yearly care:
Still propagate, for still they fall away;
'T is prudence to prevent th' entire decay.
Like diligence requires the courser's race,
In early choice, and for a longer space.
The colt that for a stallion is design'd
By sure presages shows his generous kind;
Of able body, sound of limb and wind.
Upright he walks, on pasterns firm and straight;
His motions easy; prancing in his gait;
The first to lead the way, to tempt the flood,
To pass the bridge unknown, nor fear the trembling wood;
Dauntless at empty noises; lofty neck'd,
Sharp-headed, barrel-bellied, broadly back'd;
Brawny his chest, and deep; his color gray;
For beauty, dappled, or the brightest bay:
Faint white and dun will scarce the rearing pay.
The fiery courser, when he hears from far
The sprightly trumpets and the shouts of war,
Pricks up his ears; and, trembling with delight,
Shifts place, and paws, and hopes the promis'd fight.
On his right shoulder his thick mane, reclin'd,
Ruffles at speed, and dances in the wind.
His horny hoofs are jetty black and round;
His chine is double; starting, with a bound
He turns the turf, and shakes the solid ground.
Fire from his eyes, clouds from his nostrils flow:
He bears his rider headlong on the foe.
Such was the steed in Grecian poets fam'd,
Proud Cyllarus, by Spartan Pollux tam'd:
Such coursers bore to fight the god of Thrace;
And such, Achilles, was thy warlike race.
In such a shape, grim Saturn did restrain
His heav'nly limbs, and flow'd with such a mane,
When, half-surpris'd, and fearing to be seen,
The lecher gallop'd from his jealous queen,
Ran up the ridges of the rocks amain,
And with shrill neighings fill'd the neighb'ring plain.
But, worn with years, when dire diseases come,
Then hide his not ignoble age at home,
In peace t' enjoy his former palms and pains;
And gratefully be kind to his remains.
For, when his blood no youthful spirits move,
He languishes and labors in his love;
And, when the sprightly seed should swiftly come,
Dribbling he drudges, and defrauds the womb:
In vain he burns, like hasty stubble fires,
And in himself his former self requires.
His age and courage weigh; nor those alone,
But note his father's virtues and his own;
Observe if he disdains to yield the prize,
Of loss impatient, proud of victories.
Hast thou beheld, when from the goal they start,
The youthful charioteers with heaving heart
Rush to the race; and, panting, scarcely bear
Th' extremes of feverish hope and chilling fear;
Stoop to the reins, and lash with all their force?
The flying chariot kindles in the course;
And now alow, and now aloft they fly,
As borne thro' air, and seem to touch the sky.
No stop, no stay; but clouds of sand arise,
Spurn'd, and cast backward on the follower's eyes.
The hindmost blows the foam upon the first:
Such is the love of praise, an honorable thirst.
Bold Erichthonius was the first who join'd
Four horses for the rapid race design'd,
And o'er the dusty wheels presiding sate:
The Lapithae to chariots add the state
Of bits and bridles; taught the steed to bound,
To run the ring, and trace the mazy round;
To stop, to fly, the rules of war to know;
T' obey the rider, and to dare the foe.
To choose a youthful steed with courage fir'd,
To breed him, break him, back him, are requir'd
Experienc'd masters, and in sundry ways;
Their labors equal, and alike their praise.
But, once again, the batter'd horse beware:
The weak old stallion will deceive thy care,
Tho' famous in his youth for force and speed,
Or was of Argos or Epirian breed,
Or did from Neptune's race, or from himself proceed.
These things premis'd, when now the nuptial time
Approaches for the stately steed to climb,
With food inable him to make his court;
Distend his chine, and pamper him for sport.
Feed him with herbs, whatever thou canst find,
Of generous warmth, and of salacious kind;
Then water him, and (drinking what he can)
Encourage him to thirst again, with bran.
Instructed thus, produce him to the fair,
And join in wedlock to the longing mare.
For, if the sire be faint, or out of case,
He will be copied in his famish'd race,
And sink beneath the pleasing task assign'd
(For all's too little for the craving kind).
As for the females, with industrious care
Take down their mettle; keep 'em lean and bare:
When conscious of their past delight, and keen
To take the leap, and prove the sport again,
With scanty measure then supply their food;
And, when athirst, restrain 'em from the flood:
Their bodies harass; sink 'em when they run;
And fry their melting marrow in the sun.
Starve 'em, when barns beneath their burthen groan,
And winnow'd chaff by western winds is blown;
For fear the rankness of the swelling womb
Should scant the passage, and confine the room;
Lest the fat furrows should the sense destroy
Of genial lust, and dull the seat of joy.
But let 'em suck the seed with greedy force,
And close involve the vigor of the horse.
The male has done: thy care must now proceed
To teeming females, and the promis'd breed.
First let 'em run at large, and never know
The taming yoke, or draw the crooked plow.
Let 'em not leap the ditch, or swim the flood,
Or lumber o'er the meads, or cross the wood;
But range the forest, by the silver side
Of some cool stream, where nature shall provide
Green grass and fatt'ning clover for their fare,
And mossy caverns for their noontide lair,
With rocks above, to shield the sharp nocturnal air.
About th' Alburnian groves, with holly green,
Of winged insects mighty swarms are seen.
This flying plague (to mark its quality)
oestros the Grecians call; Asylus, we;
A fierce loud-buzzing breeze: their stings draw blood,
And drive the cattle gadding thro' the wood.
Seiz'd with unusual pains, they loudly cry:
Tanagrus hastens thence, and leaves his channel dry.
This curse the jealous Juno did invent,
And first imploy'd for Io's punishment.
To shun this ill, the cunning leech ordains,
In summer's sultry heats (for then it reigns)
To feed the females ere the sun arise,
Or late at night, when stars adorn the skies.
When she has calv'd, then set the dam aside,
And for the tender progeny provide.
Distinguish all betimes with branding fire,
To note the tribe, the lineage, and the sire;
Whom to reserve for husband of the heard,
Or who shall be to sacrifice preferr'd;
Or whom thou shalt to turn thy glebe allow,
To smooth the furrows, and sustain the plow:
The rest, for whom no lot is yet decreed,
May run in pastures, and at pleasure feed.
The calf, by nature and by genius made
To turn the glebe, breed to the rural trade.
Set him betimes to school; and let him be
Instructed there in rules of husbandry,
While yet his youth is flexible and green,
Nor bad examples of the world has seen.
Early begin the stubborn child to break:
For his soft neck a supple collar make
Of bending osiers; and (with time and care
Enur'd that easy servitude to bear)
Thy flattering method on the youth pursue.
Join'd with his schoolfellows by two and two,
Persuade 'em first to lead an empty wheel,
That scarce the dust can raise, or they can feel:
In length of time produce the lab'ring yoke,
And shining shares, that make the furrow smoke.
Ere the licentious youth be thus restrain'd,
Or moral precepts on their minds have gain'd,
Their wanton appetites not only feed
With delicates of leaves, and marshy weed,
But with thy sickle reap the rankest land,
And minister the blade with bounteous hand;
Nor be with harmful parsimony won
To follow what our homely sires have done,
Who fill'd the pail with beestings of the cow,
But all her udder to the calf allow.
If to the warlike steed thy studies bend,
Or for the prize in chariots to contend,
Near Pisa's flood the rapid wheels to guide,
Or in Olympian groves aloft to ride,
The generous labors of the courser, first,
Must be with sight of arms and sounds of trumpets nurs'd;
Inur'd the groaning axletree to bear —
And let him clashing whips in stables hear.
Soothe him with praise, and make him understand
The loud applauses of his master's hand:
This, from his weaning, let him well be taught;
And then betimes in a soft snaffle wrought,
Before his tender joints with nerves are knit,
Untried in arms, and trembling at the bit.
But when to four full springs his years advance,
Teach him to run the round, with pride to prance,
And (rightly manag'd) equal time to beat,
To turn, to bound in measure, and curvet,
Let him to this, with easy pains, be brought,
And seem to labor, when he labors not.
Thus, form'd for speed, he challenges the wind,
And leaves the Scythian arrow far behind;
He scours along the field, with loosen'd reins,
And treads so light, he scarcely prints the plains.
Like Boreas in his race, when, rushing forth,
He sweeps the skies, and clears the cloudy north —
The waving harvest bends beneath his blast,
The forest shakes, the groves their honors cast;
He flies aloft, and with impetuous roar
Pursues the foaming surges to the shore —
Thus, o'er th' Elean plains, thy well-breath'd horse
Impels the flying car, and wins the course;
Or, bred to Belgian wagons, leads the way,
Untir'd at night, and cheerful all the day.
When once he 's broken, feed him full and high;
Indulge his growth, and his gaunt sides supply.
Before his training, keep him poor and low;
For his stout stomach with his food will grow:
The pamper'd colt will discipline disdain,
Impatient of the lash, and restiff to the rein.
Wouldst thou their courage and their strength improve?
Too soon they must not feel the stings of love.
Whether the bull or courser be thy care,
Let him not leap the cow, nor more the mare.
The youthful bull must wander in the wood
Behind the mountain, or beyond the flood,
Or in the stall at home his fodder find,
Far from the charms of that alluring kind.
With two fair eyes his mistress burns his breast:
He looks, and languishes, and leaves his rest;
Forsakes his food, and, pining for the lass,
Is joyless of the grove, and spurns the growing grass.
The soft seducer, with enticing looks,
The bellowing rivals to the fight provokes.
A beauteous heifer in the woods is bred:
The stooping warriors, aiming head to head,
Engage their clashing horns; with dreadful sound
The forest rattles, and the rocks rebound.
They fence, they push, and, pushing, loudly roar:
Their dewlaps and their sides are bath'd in gore.
Nor, when the war is over, is it peace;
Nor will the vanquish'd bull his claim release;
But, feeding in his breast his ancient fires,
And oursing fate, from his proud foe retires.
Driv'n from his native land to foreign grounds,
He with a gen'rous rage resents his wounds,
His ignominious flight, the victor's boast,
And, more than both, the loves, which unreveng'd he lost.
Often he turns his eyes, and, with a groan,
Surveys the pleasing kingdoms, once his own:
And therefore to repair his strength he tries,
Hard'ning his limbs with painful exercise,
And rough upon the flinty rock he lies.
On prickly leaves and on sharp herbs he feeds,
Then to the prelude of a war proceeds.
His horns, yet sore, he tries against a tree,
And meditates his absent enemy.
He snuffs the wind; his heels the sand excite;
But when he stands collected in his might,
He roars, and promises a more successful fight.
Then, to redeem his honor at a blow,
He moves his camp, to meet his careless foe.
Not with more madness, rolling from afar,
The spumy waves proclaim the wat'ry war;
And mounting upwards, with a mighty roar,
March onwards, and insult the rocky shore.
They mate the middle region with their height,
And fall no less than with a mountain's weight;
The waters boil, and, belching, from below
Black sands as from a forceful engine throw.
Thus every creature, and of every kind,
The secret joys of sweet coition find:
Not only man's imperial race, but they
That wing the liquid air, or swim the sea,
Or haunt the desart, rush into the flame;
For Love is lord of all, and is in all the same.
'T is with this rage the mother lion stung
Scours o'er the plain, regardless of her young:
Demanding rites of love, she sternly stalks,
And hunts her lover in his lonely walks.
'T is then the shapeless bear his den forsakes;
In woods and fields a wild destruction makes:
Boars whet their tusks; to battle tigers move,
Enrag'd with hunger, more enrag'd with love:
Then woe to him that in the desart land
Of Libya travels, o'er the burning sand!
The stallion snuffs the well-known scent afar,
And snorts and trembles for the distant mare;
Nor bits nor bridles can his rage restrain,
And rugged rocks are interpos'd in vain:
He makes his way o'er mountains, and contemns
Unruly torrents, and unforded streams.
The bristled boar, who feels the pleasing wound,
New grinds his arming tusks, and digs the ground.
The sleepy lecher shuts his little eyes;
About his churning chaps the frothy bubbles rise:
He rubs his sides against a tree; prepares
And hardens both his shoulders for the wars.
What did the youth, when Love's unerring dart
Transfix'd his liver, and inflam'd his heart?
Alone, by night, his wat'ry way he took:
About him, and above, the billows broke;
The sluices of the sky were open spread,
And rolling thunder rattled o'er his head.
The raging tempest call'd him back in vain,
And every boding omen of the main;
Nor could his kindred, nor the kindly force
Of weeping parents, change his fatal course:
No, not the dying maid, who must deplore
His floating carcass on the Sestian shore.
I pass the wars that spotted lynxes make
With their fierce rivals, for the females' sake;
The howling wolves', the mastiffs' amorous rage;
When ev'n the fearful stag dares for his hind engage.
But, far above the rest, the furious mare,
Barr'd from the male, is frantic with despair:
For, when her pouting vent declares her pain,
She tears the harness, and she rends the rein.
For this (when Venus gave them rage and pow'r)
Their masters' mangled members they devour,
Of love defrauded in their longing hour.
For love, they force thro' thickets of the wood;
They climb the steepy hills, and stem the flood.
When, at the spring's approach, their marrow burns,
(For with the spring their genial warmth returns,)
The mares to cliffs of rugged rocks repair,
And with wide nostrils snuff the western air:
When (wondrous to relate!) the parent wind,
Without the stallion, propagates the kind.
Then, fir'd with amorous rage, they take their flight
Thro' plains, and mount the hills' unequal height;
Nor to the north, nor to the rising sun,
Nor southward to the rainy regions run,
But boring to the west, and hov'ring there,
With gaping mouths they draw prolific air;
With which impregnate, from their groins they shed
A slimy juice, by false conception bred.
The shepherd knows it well, and calls by name
Hippomanes, to note the mother's flame.
This, gather'd in the planetary hour,
With noxious weeds, and spell'd with words of pow'r,
Dire stepdames in the magic bowl infuse,
And mix, for deadly draughts, the pois'nous juice.
But time is lost, which never will renew,
While we too far the pleasing path pursue,
Surveying nature with too nice a view.
Let this suffice for herds: our following care
Shall woolly flocks and shaggy goats declare.
Nor can I doubt what oil I must bestow,
To raise my subject from a ground so low;
And the mean matter which my theme affords
T' embellish with magnificence of words.
But the commanding Muse my chariot guides,
Which o'er the dubious cliff securely rides;
And pleas'd I am, no beaten road to take,
But first the way to new discov'ries make.
Now, sacred Pales, in a lofty strain
I sing the rural honors of thy reign.
First, with assiduous care from winter keep,
Well fodder'd in the stalls, thy tender sheep:
Then spread with straw the bedding of thy fold,
With fern beneath, to fend the bitter cold;
That free from gouts thou mayst preserve thy care,
And clear from scabs, produc'd by freezing air.
Next, let thy goats officiously be nurs'd,
And led to living streams, to quench their thirst.
Feed 'em with winter browse; and, for their lair,
A cote that opens to the south prepare;
Where basking in the sunshine they may lie,
And the short remnants of his heat enjoy.
This during winter's drizzly reign be done,
Till the new Ram receives th' exalted sun;
For hairy goats of equal profit are
With woolly sheep, and ask an equal care.
'T is true, the fleece, when drunk with Tyrian juice,
Is dearly sold; but not for needful use:
For the salacious goat encreases more,
And twice as largely yields her milky store.
The still distended udders never fail,
But, when they seem exhausted, swell the pail.
Meantime the pastor shears their hoary beards,
And eases of their hair the loaden herds.
Their camelots, warm in tents, the soldier hold,
And shield the shiv'ring mariner from cold.
On shrubs they browse, and on the bleaky top
Of rugged hills the thorny bramble crop.
Attended with their bleating kids they come
At night, unask'd, and mindful of their home;
And scarce their swelling bags the threshold overcome.
So much the more thy diligence bestow
In depth of winter, to defend the snow,
By how much less the tender helpless kind
For their own ills can fit provision find.
Then minister the browse with bounteous hand,
And open let thy stacks all winter stand.
But, when the western winds with vital pow'r
Call forth the tender grass and budding flow'r;
Then, at the last, produce in open air
Both flocks, and send 'em to their summer fare.
Before the sun, while Hesperus appears,
First let 'em sip from herbs the pearly tears
Of morning dews, and after break their fast
On greensward ground — a cool and grateful taste.
But, when the day's fourth hour has drawn the dews,
And the sun's sultry heat their thirst renews;
When creaking grasshoppers on shrubs complain,
Then lead 'em to their wat'ring troughs again.
In summer's heat, some bending valley find,
Clos'd from the sun, but open to the wind;
Or seek some ancient oak, whose arms extend
In ample breadth, thy cattle to defend,
Or solitary grove, or gloomy glade,
To shield 'em with its venerable shade.
Once more to wat'ring lead; and feed again
When the low sun is sinking to the main,
When rising Cynthia sheds her silver dews,
And the cool evening breeze the meads renews,
When linnets fill the woods with tuneful sound,
And hollow shores the halcyon's voice rebound.
Why should my Muse enlarge on Libyan swains,
Their scatter'd cottages, and ample plains,
Where oft the flocks without a leader stray,
Or thro' continued desarts take their way,
And, feeding, add the length of night to day?
Whole months they wander, grazing as they go;
Nor folds nor hospitable harbor know;
Such an extent of plains, so vast a space
Of wilds unknown, and of untasted grass,
Allures their eyes: the shepherd last appears,
And with him all his patrimony bears;
His house and household gods, his trade of war,
His bow and quiver, and his trusty cur.
Thus, under heavy arms, the youth of Rome
Their long laborious marches overcome;
Cheerly their tedious travels undergo,
And pitch their sudden camp before the foe.
Not so the Scythian shepherd tends his fold,
Nor he who bears in Thrace the bitter cold,
Nor he who treads the bleak Maeotian strand,
Or where proud Ister rolls his yellow sand.
Early they stall their flocks and herds; for there
No grass the fields, no leaves the forests wear:
The frozen earth lies buried there, below
A hilly heap, sev'n cubits deep in snow;
And all the west allies of stormy Boreas blow.
The sun from far peeps with a sickly face,
Too weak the clouds and mighty fogs to chase,
When up the skies he shoots his rosy head,
Or in the ruddy ocean seeks his bed.
Swift rivers are with sudden ice constrain'd;
And studded wheels are on its back sustain'd,
An hostry now for wagons, which before
Tall ships of burthen on its bosom bore.
The brazen caldrons with the frost are flaw'd;
The garment, stiff with ice, at hearths is thaw'd;
With axes first they cleave the wine; and thence,
By weight, the solid portions they dispense.
From locks uncomb'd, and from the frozen beard,
Long icicles depend, and crackling sounds are heard.
Meantime perpetual sleet, and driving snow,
Obscure the skies, and hang on herds below.
The starving cattle perish in their stalls;
Huge oxen stand enclos'd in wintry walls
Of snow congeal'd; whole herds are buried there
Of mighty stags, and scarce their horns appear.
The dext'rous huntsman wounds not these afar
With shafts or darts, or makes a distant war
With dogs, or pitches toils to stop their flight,
But close engages in unequal fight;
And, while they strive in vain to make their way
Thro' hills of snow, and pitifully bray,
Assaults with dint of sword, or pointed spears,
And homeward, on his back, the joyful burthen bears.
The men to subterranean caves retire,
Secure from cold, and crowd the cheerful fire:
With trunks of elms and oaks the hearth they load,
Nor tempt th' inclemency of heav'n abroad.
Their jovial nights in frolics and in play
They pass, to drive the tedious hours away,
And their cold stomachs with crown'd goblets cheer
Of windy cider, and of barmy beer.
Such are the cold Riphaean race, and such
The savage Scythian, and unwarlike Dutch,
Where skins of beasts the rude barbarians wear,
The spoils of foxes, and the furry bear.
Is wool thy care? Let not thy cattle go
Where bushes are, where burs and thistles grow;
Nor in too rank a pasture let 'em feed;
Then of the purest white select thy breed.
Ev'n tho' a snowy ram thou shalt behold,
Prefer him not in haste for husband to thy fold:
But search his mouth; and, if a swarthy tongue
Is underneath his humid palate hung,
Reject him, lest he darken all the flock,
And substitute another from thy stock.
'T was thus, with fleeces milky white, (if we
May trust report,) Pan, god of Arcady,
Did bribe thee, Cynthia; nor didst thou disdain,
When call'd in woody shades, to cure a lover's pain.
If milk be thy design, with plenteous hand
Bring clover grass; and from the marshy land
Salt herbage for the fodd'ring rack provide,
To fill their bags, and swell the milky tide.
These raise their thirst, and to the taste restore
The savor of the salt on which they fed before.
Some, when the kids their dams too deeply drain,
With gags and muzzles their soft mouths restrain.
Their morning milk the peasants press at night;
Their evening meal, before the rising light,
To market bear; or sparingly they steep
With seas'ning salt, and stor'd for winter keep.
Nor, last, forget thy faithful dogs; but feed
With fatt'ning whey the mastiffs' gen'rous breed,
And Spartan race, who, for the fold's relief,
Will prosecute with cries the nightly thief,
Repulse the prowling wolf, and hold at bay
The mountain robbers rushing to the prey.
With cries of hounds, thou mayst pursue the fear
Of flying hares, and chase the fallow deer;
Rouse from their desart dens the bristled rage
Of boars, and beamy stags in toils engage.
With smoke of burning cedar scent thy walls,
And fume with stinking galbanum thy stalls,
With that rank odor from thy dwelling place
To drive the viper's brood, and all the venom'd race;
For often under stalls unmov'd they lie,
Obscure in shades, and shunning heav'n's broad eye;
And snakes, familiar, to the hearth succeed,
Disclose their eggs, and near the chimney breed:
Whether to roofy houses they repair,
Or sun themselves abroad in open air,
In all abodes, of pestilential kind
To sheep and oxen and the painful hind.
Take, shepherd, take a plant of stubborn oak,
And labor him with many a sturdy stroke,
Or with hard stones demolish from afar
His haughty crest, the seat of all the war;
Invade his hissing throat and winding spires;
Till, stretch'd in length, th' unfolded foe retires.
He drags his tail, and for his head provides,
And in some secret cranny slowly glides;
But leaves expos'd to blows his back and batter'd sides.
In fair Calabria's woods a snake is bred,
With curling crest, and with advancing head:
Waving he rolls, and makes a winding track;
His belly spotted, burnish'd is his back.
While springs are broken, while the southern air
And dropping heav'ns the moisten'd earth repair,
He lives on standing lakes and trembling bogs,
And fills his maw with fish, or with loquacious frogs:
But when in muddy pools the water sinks,
And the chapp'd earth is furrow'd o'er with chinks,
He leaves the fens, and leaps upon the ground,
And, hissing, rolls his glaring eyes around.
With thirst inflam'd, impatient of the heats,
He rages in the fields, and wide destruction threats.
O let not sleep my closing eyes invade
In open plains, or in the secret shade,
When he, renew'd in all the speckled pride
Of pompous youth, has cast his slough aside,
And in his summer liv'ry rolls along,
Erect, and brandishing his forky tongue,
Leaving his nest and his imperfect young;
And, thoughtless of his eggs, forgets to rear
The hopes of poison for the foll'wing year.
The causes and the signs shall next be told
Of ev'ry sickness that infects the fold.
A scabby tetter on their pelts will stick,
When the raw rain has pierc'd them to the quick,
Or searching frosts have eaten thro' the skin,
Or burning icicles are lodg'd within;
Or, when the fleece is shorn, if sweat remains
Unwash'd, and soaks into their empty veins;
When their defenseless limbs the brambles tear,
Short of their wool, and naked from the shear.
Good shepherds, after shearing, drench their sheep;
And their flock's father (forc'd from high to leap)
Swims down the stream, and plunges in the deep.
They oint their naked limbs with mother'd oil;
Or, from the founts where living sulphurs boil,
They mix a med'cine to foment their limbs,
With scum that on the molten silver swims.
Fat pitch and black bitumen add to these;
Besides, the waxen labor of the bees,
And hellebore, and squills deep-rooted in the seas.
Receipts abound; but, searching all thy store,
The best is still at hand, to launch the sore,
And cut the head; for, till the core be found,
The secret vice is fed, and gathers ground;
While, making fruitless moan, the shepherd stands,
And, when the launching-knife requires his hands,
Vain help, with idle pray'rs, from heav'n demands.
Deep in their bones when fevers fix their seat,
And rack their limbs, and lick the vital heat,
The ready cure to cool the raging pain
Is underneath the foot to breathe a vein.
This remedy the Scythian shepherds found:
Th' inhabitants of Thracia's hilly ground
And Gelons use it, when for drink and food
They mix their cruddled milk with horses' blood.
But where thou seest a single sheep remain
In shades aloof, or couch'd upon the plain,
Or listlessly to crop the tender grass,
Or late to lag behind, with truant pace;
Revenge the crime, and take the traitor's head,
Ere in the faultless flock the dire contagion spread.
On winter seas we fewer storms behold,
Than foul diseases that infect the fold.
Nor do those ills on single bodies prey,
But oft'ner bring the nation to decay,
And sweep the present stock and future hope away.
A dire example of this truth appears,
When, after such a length of rolling years,
We see the naked Alps, and thin remains
Of scatter'd cots, and yet unpeopled plains,
Once fill'd with grazing flocks, the shepherds' happy reigns.
Here, from the vicious air and sickly skies,
A plague did on the dumb creation rise:
During th' autumnal heats th' infection grew,
Tame cattle and the beasts of nature slew,
Pois'ning the standing lakes, and pools impure;
Nor was the foodful grass in fields secure.
Strange death! for, when the thirsty fire had drunk
Their vital blood, and the dry nerves were shrunk,
When the contracted limbs were cramp'd, ev'n then
A wat'rish humor swell'd and ooz'd again,
Converting into bane the kindly juice
Ordain'd by nature for a better use.
The victim ox, that was for altars press'd,
Trimm'd with white ribbons, and with garlands dress'd,
Sunk of himself, without the god's command,
Preventing the slow sacrificer's hand.
Or, by the holy butcher if he fell,
Th' inspected entrails could no fates foretell;
Nor, laid on altars, did pure flames arise;
But clouds of smold'ring smoke forbade the sacrifice:
Scarcely the knife was redden'd with his gore,
Or the black poison stain'd the sandy floor.
The thriven calves in meads their food forsake,
And render their sweet souls before the plenteous rack.
The fawning dog runs mad; the wheezing swine
With coughs is chok'd, and labors from the chine.
The victor horse, forgetful of his food,
The palm renounces, and abhors the flood;
He paws the ground; and on his hanging ears
A doubtful sweat in clammy drops appears:
Parch'd is his hide, and rugged are his hairs.
Such are the symptoms of the young disease;
But, in time's process, when his pains encrease,
He rolls his mournful eyes; he deeply groans
With patient sobbing, and with manly moans.
He heaves for breath; which, from his lungs supplied,
And fetch'd from far, distends his lab'ring side.
To his rough palate his dry tongue succeeds;
And ropy gore he from his nostrils bleeds.
A drench of wine has with success been us'd,
And thro' a horn the gen'rous juice infus'd;
Which, timely taken, op'd his closing jaws,
But, if too late, the patient's death did cause:
For the too vig'rous dose too fiercely wrought,
And added fury to the strength it brought.
Recruited into rage, he grinds his teeth
In his own flesh, and feeds approaching death.
Ye gods, to better fate good men dispose;
And turn that impious error on our foes!
The steer, who to the yoke was bred to bow,
(Studious of tillage, and the crooked plow,)
Falls down and dies; and, dying, spews a flood
Of foamy madness, mix'd with clotted blood.
The clown, who, cursing Providence, repines,
His mournful fellow from the team disjoins;
With many a groan forsakes his fruitless care,
And in th' unfinish'd furrow leaves the share.
The pining steer no shades of lofty woods
Nor flow'ry meads can ease, nor crystal floods
Roll'd from the rock; his flabby flanks decrease;
His eyes are settled in a stupid peace;
His bulk too weighty for his thighs is grown,
And his unwieldy neck hangs drooping down.
Now what avails his well-deserving toil
To turn the glebe, or smooth the rugged soil!
And yet he never supp'd in solemn state,
Nor undigested feasts did urge his fate,
Nor day to night luxuriously did join,
Nor surfeited on rich Campanian wine.
Simple his bev'rage, homely was his food,
The wholesome herbage, and the running flood:
No dreadful dreams awak'd him with affright;
His pains by day secur'd his rest by night.
'T was then that buffaloes, ill pair'd, were seen
To draw the car of Jove's imperial queen,
For want of oxen; and the lab'ring swain
Scratch'd, with a rake, a furrow for his grain,
And cover'd with his hand the shallow seed again.
He yokes himself, and up the hilly height
With his own shoulders draws the wagon's weight.
The nightly wolf, that round th' enclosure prowl'd
To leap the fence, now plots not on the fold,
Tam'd with a sharper pain. The fearful doe
And flying stag amidst the greyhounds go,
And round the dwellings roam of man, their fiercer foe.
The scaly nations of the sea profound,
Like shipwreck'd carcasses, are driv'n aground,
And mighty phocae , never seen before
In shallow streams, are stranded on the shore.
The viper dead within her hole is found:
Defenseless was the shelter of the ground.
The water snake, whom fish and paddocks fed,
With staring scales lies poison'd in his bed:
To birds their native heav'ns contagious prove;
From clouds they fall, and leave their souls above.
Besides, to change their pasture 't is in vain,
Or trust to physic; physic is their bane.
The learned leeches in despair depart,
And shake their heads, desponding of their art.
Tisiphone, let loose from under ground,
Majestically pale, now treads the round,
Before her drives diseases and affright,
And every moment rises to the sight,
Aspiring to the skies, encroaching on the light.
The rivers, and their banks, and hills around,
With lowings and with dying bleats resound.
At length, she strikes an universal blow;
To death at once whole herds of cattle go;
Sheep, oxen, horses, fall; and, heap'd on high,
The diff'ring species in confusion lie,
Till, warn'd by frequent ills, the way they found
To lodge their loathsome carrion underground:
For useless to the currier were their hides;
Nor could their tainted flesh with ocean tides
Be freed from filth; nor could Vulcanian flame
The stench abolish, or the savor tame.
Nor safely could they shear their fleecy store,
(Made drunk with pois'nous juice, and stiff with gore,)
Or touch the web: but, if the vest they wear,
Red blisters rising on their paps appear,
And flaming carbuncles, and noisome sweat,
And clammy dews, that loathsome lice beget;
Till the slow-creeping evil eats his way,
Consumes the parching limbs, and makes the life his prey.
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