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Virgil

(70-19 BCE / Andes / Cisalpine Gaul)

Eclogue VII


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.

Submitted: Thursday, April 15, 2010

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