Eclogues/Eclogue IV

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Eclogues by Virgil
Eclogue IV

POLLIO

Muses of Sicily, sing we a somewhat ampler strain:
Not all men's delight is in coppices
And lowly tamarisks: if we sing of the woods,
Let them be Woods worthy of a consul.

Now is come the last age of the Cumaean prophecy:
The great cycle of periods is born anew.
Now returns the Maid, returns the reign of Saturn:
Now from high heaven a new generation comes down.
Yet do thou at that boy's birth,
In whom the iron race shall begin to cease,
And the golden to arise over all the world,
Holy Lucina, be gracious; now thine own Apollo reigns.
And in thy consulate, in thine, O Pollio, shall this
Glorious age enter, and the great months begin their march:
Under thy rule what traces of our guilt yet remain,
Vanishing shall free earth for ever from alarm.
He shall grow in the life of gods,
And shall see gods and heroes mingled
And himself be seen by them, and shall rule the world
That his father's virtues have set at peace.

But on thee, O boy, untilled shall Earth first pour
Childish gifts, wandering ivy-tendrils and foxglove,
And colocasia mingled with the laughing acanthus:
Untended shall the she-goats bring home their
Milk-swollen udders, nor shall huge lions alarm the herds:
Unbidden thy cradle shall break into wooing blossom.
The snake too shall die, and die the treacherous poison-plant:
Assyrian spice shall grow all up and down. But when
Once thou shalt be able now to read the glories
Of heroes and thy father's deeds, and to know
Virtue as she is, slowly the plain shall grow golden
With the soft corn-spike, and the reddening grape
Trail from the wild briar, and hard oaks shall
Drip dew of honey. Nevertheless there shall linger some
Few traces of ancient wrong, to bid ships tempt the sea
And towns be girt with walls and the earth cloven in furrows.
Then shall a second Tiphys be, And a second Argo
To sail with chosen heroes: New wars too shall arise,
And again a mighty Achilles be sent to Troy.
Thereafter, when now stengthening age
Hath wrought thee into man, the very voyager shall cease
Out of the sea nor the sailing pine exchange her merchandise:
All lands shall bear all things, the ground shall not
Suffer the mattock, not the vine the pruning-hook;
Now likewise the strong ploughman shall loose his bulls
From the yoke. Neither shall wool learn to counterfeit
Changing hues, but the ram in the meadow himself
Shall dye his fleece now with soft glowing sea-purple,
Now with yellow saffron; native scarlet shall clothe the lambs
As their pasturage. Run even thus, O ages,
Said the harmonious Fates to their spindles,
by the steadfast ordinance of doom. Draw nigh
To thy high honours (even now will the time be come)
O dear offspring of gods, mighty germ of Jove!
Behold the world swaying her orbed mass,
Lands and spaces of sea and depth of sky;
Behold how all things rejoice in the age to come.
Ah may the latter end of a long life then yet be mine,
And such breath as shall suffice to tell thy deeds!
Not Orpheus of Thrace nor Linus shall surpass me in song,
Though he have his mother and he his father to aid,
Orpheus Calliope, Linus beautiful Apollo.
If even Pan before his Arcady contend with me,
Even Pan before his Arcady shall declare himself conquered.
Begin, O little boy: to know and smile upon thy mother,
Thy mother on whom ten months have brought weary longings.
Begin, O little boy: of them who have not smiled on a parent,
Never was one honoured at a god's board or on a goddess' couch.