MENALCAS DAMOETAS PALAEMON
Tell me, Damoetas, who is the flock's master? Meliboeus?
No, but Aegon: Aegon gave it of late to my keeping.
Poor sheep, ever a luckless flock! While the master clings
By Neaera and dreads Lest she prefer me before him.
This hireling shepherd milks the sheep twice an hour:
The juice is stolen from the flock, the milk from the lambs.
Yet remember to be more sparing in thy jeers at men.
We know by whom thou, while the he-goats peered sideways
-and in what shrine, though the easy Nymphs laughed.
Then, I think, when they saw me slashing Micon's orchard
And nursery vines with jealous hedgebill.
Yes, or here by the old beeches, where thou brakest
Daphnis' bow and reeds: for thou didst grieve, wicked Menalcas,
When thou sawest them given to the boy, and it was death to thee
If thou couldst not somehow have done him harm.
What can the masters do, when the knaves make so free?
Did I not see thee, villain, catching Damon's goat from ambush
While the sheep-dog barked aloud? and when I cried:
Where is he running off to now? Tityrus, gather the flock!
Thou didst hide behind the sedges.
Was not he whom I conquered in singing to yield the goat
That my tuneful pipe had won? If thou must be told,
The goat was mine, as Damon himself confessed to me,
But said he could not give it up.
Thou him in singing? or hadst thou ever a waxen-bound pipe?
Wert not wont in the cross-roads, blockhead, to mangle
A wretched tune on a grating straw?
Wilt thou then woe put to proof between us in turn what each can do?
I stake this heifer--lest haply thou draw back,
She comes twice to the milking pail and withal feeds two calves
From her udder--say thou what thou wilt stake with me in the strife.
Of the flock I dare not stake aught with thee:
For I have a father at home, and a wicked stepmother,
And twice a day both count the flock, and one of them the kids.
But, what thyself wilt confess far excels it, since be mad thou wilt
--I will stake cups of beechwood, carved work of the divine Alcimedon,
Where a clinging vine raised by his light graver enfolds pale ivy
With her scattered berries. In the middle are two figures,
Conon, and who was that other whose compass marked out,
On all the peopled globe, what seasons the reaper,
What the bending ploughman should keep?
Nor yet have I put lip to them, but keep them laid by.
And for us too Alcimedon made two cups,
And wreathed the handles round with soft acanthus;
And in the middle set Orpheus and the following woods:
Nor yet have I put lip to them, but keep them laid by.
If thou lookest to the heifer in comparison, small praise is in the cups.
Not to-day shalt thou escape me: I will come anywhere to thy challenge.
Let one but hear us now--even he who approaches, lo! Palaemon.
I will make thy voice henceforth cease from troubling.
Nay come with what thou hast, there shall be no delay with me: nor do I shrink from any one:
only, neighbour Palaemon, this is no small matter, lay it well to heart.
Say on; since we are seated on soft grass, and now all the field,
Now all the tree is burgeoning, now the woodland is leafy,
Now is the fairest of the year. Begin, Damoetas: thou shalt follow on,
Menalcas: you shall sing turn by turn as the Muses love.
From Jove is the Muse's beginning: all things are full of Jove.
He keeps the world: he gives ear to my songs.
And me Phoebus loves: Phoebus' own gifts are ever by me:
Bays and the sweet flushed hyacinth.
Galatea, playful maid, throws an apple at me, and runs to the willows,
And desires that she first be seen.
But my flame Amyntas comes to me unbidden:
Insomuch that now our dogs know not Delia better.
Gifts are got for my love: for myself have marked the spot
Where the wood-pigeons have built aloft.
What I could I have sent to the boy, ten golden apples plucked
From the woodland tree; to-morrow I will send as many more.
O the times and the words that Galatea has spoken to us!
carry but a little thereof, ye winds, to the gods' ears.
What boots it that thou scorn me not in thine heart, Amyntas,
If while thou huntest the boar I am keeper of the nets?
Send me my Phyllis: it is my birthday, O Iollas:
When I shall make offering of a young heifer for the crops, come thyself.
I love Phyllis before all women: for she wept at my going, and cried,
My fair one, good-bye and a long good-bye, O Iollas.
A sad thing is the wolf among the pens, rains on ripe cornfields,
The winds in the trees, as Amaryllis' anger to us.
A sweet thing is moisture to the crops, arbutus to weanling kids,
The pliant willow to the breeding herd, as Amyntas alone to me.
Pollio loves our Muse, rustic though she be:
Maids of Pierra, feed a heifer for your reader.
Pollio himself too makes new songs: feed a bull,
Soon to strike with his horn and scatter the sand with his feet.
Let him who loves thee, Pollio, come where thou too takest delight:
Let honey flow for him, and the rough briar yield him spice.
Who hates not Bavius, let him love thy songs, O Maevius,
And withal yoke foxes and milk be-goats.
Gatherers of flowers and ground-strawberries, fly hence,
O children, a cold snake lurks in the grass.
Stay, my sheep, from too far advance: ill is it to trust the bank:
The lordly ram even now dries his fleece.
Tityrus, put back the grazing kids from the river: myself,
When the time comes, will wash them all in the spring.
Fold the sheep, children: if the heat steals the milk,
As of late, vainly shall we squeeze the udders in our hands.
Alas, alas, how lean is my bull among the juicy tares:
The same love is death to herd and to herdsman.
These assuredly (nor is love to blame) hardly keep their bones together:
Some evil eye is cast on my tender lambs.
Tell in what lands (and thou shalt be to me as great Apollo)
The open space of Sky is three yards and no more.
Tell in what lands flowers are born engraven with names of kings,
And have Phyllis for thine alone.
Us it skills not to determine this strife between you:
Both thou and he are worthy of the heifer, and whosoever shrinks not
From Love's sweetness shall not taste his bitterness.
Shut off the rivulets now, my children: the meadows have drunk their fill.