The Georgics (Nevile)/Book 1

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620521The Georgics (Nevile) — Book 1Thomas NevileVirgil



WITH heavy harvests what may glad the plain;
What Star, Mæcenas! may invite the swain
To turn the glebe, and wed to elms the vine;
The nurture due to cattle; care of kine;
What arts the task of training bees prolong;       5
These are the Subjects, whence I'll raise my Song.

Lights of the world, who thro' the starry sphere
Lead, as ye roll along, the sliding year!
Bacchus, and Ceres! if, by you first taught,       9
Men purpled with the grape the springs' pure draught,
And chang'd their acorns for the foodful grain,
Your gifts I sing; propitious hear the strain;
You too, who make the rural throng your care,
Hither ye Fauns, and Dryad-nymphs repair!
And thou, whose massy trident the firm ground       15
Smote, and an horse rose neighing from the wound!
You, who haunt groves, whose snowy steers are seen
In Cœa, browsing on the braky green!
And you, Tegæan Pan! my suit approve,
If thy own Mænalus still claim thy love;       20
Guardian of flocks, ah! quit thy natal shades,
And leave awhile Lycæus' op'ning glades!
Giver of olives, Pallas, come! and thou,
Whose early youth first show'd the crooked plough!
Sylvanus, with thy cypress tree, attend!       25
Ye Gods, and Goddesses, the fields who tend!
Ye, who wild nature's genuine products feed!
Ye, who send copious show'rs on cultur'd seed!
But chief thou, Cæsar! tho' 'tis yet unknown
What place in heav'n's high seats you'll call your own:
Whether, of lands protector, you supply       31
Fruits, and control the tempests of the sky,
Your mother's myrtle round your temples twin'd,
Hail'd with one voice great patron of mankind:
Or o'er the boundless seas you stretch your sway,       35
Sole God of all, who tempt the wat'ry way,
Rever'd at Thule's utmost shores, and won
By Tethys' treasures to be styl'd her son:
Or the celestial arch you mean to grace,
Where Scorpio's claws and Virgo leave a space:       40
His arms contracted, lo! the burning sign
Makes of the sky a larger portion thine.
Whate'er thy purpose; nor be Hell so vain
To nourish hopes of thy expected reign;
Nor may such lust of rule thy bosom fire,       45
Tho' Greece Elysium's blissful scenes admire,
And ravish'd Proserpine for these disdain'd
The proffer'd boon her mother's suit obtain'd:
In pity to the guideless swains incline
A willing ear, and aid my bold design;       50
Learn to assert thy tutelary care,
Assume the God, and listen to our pray'r!

On the loose clod when vernal gales first blow,
And down the white hills glides the melting snow,
At the prest plough then let the bullock toil,       55
And the share brighten, as it breaks the soil.
That land shall thicken with ripe crops untold,
Which twice has felt the sun, and twice the cold:
A secret joy shall touch the greedy swain,
As his full barns distend with golden grain.       60
Ere in an unknown ground you fix your share,
Mark well the winds and temp'rature of air,
The culture, genius of the place next try;
What it will best produce, and what deny.
Here ripen grapes; there yellow harvests rise;       65
Unbidden herbs another spot supplies,
And fruitage: seest thou not? soft Sabe sends
Her frankincense; her iv'ry India lends;
Of saffron Tmolus his rich stores resigns;
Chalybs the treasures of his iron mines;       70
Pontus his castor of rank scent; swift steeds,
Victorious in the ring, Epirus breeds.
These laws and pacts eternal were assign'd
To soils by nature, when man's hardy kind
Burst into being, as Deucalion hurl'd       75
His stones into the wide unpeopled world.
Haste then and to the plough yoke the stout steer
In the first months of the new-op'ning year;
And let the clods in ridges as they lie,
Be bak'd beneath a glowing summer-sky.       80
But if the soil be poor, it will suffice
To cut slight furrows near Arcturus' rise:
There, lest wild herbs molest the laughing land;
Here, lest all moisture leave the steril sand.

With a year's rest your new-shorn field reward,       85
And give the glebe long leisure to grow hard:
At least, the season chang'd, there sow your corn,
Whence brittle stalks of lupines have been born
In rattling sheaves, or tares' thin seeds been took,
Or pulse, by reapers from their pods just shook.       90
For oats, and flax are found, and poppy-grain
Sprinkled with lethy'd sleep, to parch the plain.
But of alternate sowing light the toil,
If, by false shame not counsel'd, the dry soil
You feed with fatt'ning dung, and scatter round       95
A show'r of ashes on th' exhausted ground.
Thus change of grain gives respite to your field,
And lands at rest a rich return will yield.

Some with success by fire a poor soil mend,
And in a crackling blaze the stubble send:       100
Whether by means unknown earth thence receive
Strength, and some healing aliment conceive;
Or whether, purging the bad taint, the fire
Give the superfluous moisture to transpire;
Or into porous vents the glebe unbind,       105
Whence to the plants the juice a way may find;
Or, hardened by the fire's astrictive pow'rs,
Earth close her gaping chinks, lest drizzling show'rs,
Or Sol's more potent fervours, or the cold
Of penetrating Boreas scorch the mould.       110
Nor is the ground ungrateful to the swain,
Who plies his harrows oft, and o'er the plain
Drags osier hurdles; from her throne on high
On him brown Ceres bends a gracious eye:
Nor less his fields he profits, who once more       115
Cleaves the rough ridges he had rais'd before,
His share obliquely turn'd, with callous hands
Incessant toils, the tyrant of his lands.

Ye husbandmen! intreat the gods by pray'r
For wat'ry solstices, and winters fair:       120
With laughing corn the laughing lands abound,
On the dry earth when brumal dust is found:
At no time Mysia boasts so rich a plain,
And Garg'rus wonders at his waving grain.
Need I name him, who, having sown his seed,       125
Rests not, but prosecutes his task with speed,
Of the lean gravel sweeps away the hills,
Then from the fountains calls the streamy rills?
With dying herbage when the parcht glebe glows,
Down channell'd steeps th' obedient runnel flows;
O'er the smooth stones a murmur hoarse it yields,       130
And with brisk bubblings cools the thirsty fields.
Or shall I tell his caution, who, thro' fear
The weak stem sink beneath the weighty ear,
In the young blade feeds down the wanton crop,       135
The shoots just level with the furrows' top?
Or him why mention, who with anxious pains
From the soak'd sands the marshy moisture drains,
Chief in the changeful months, if, o'er his shores
Rising, the river lift his swelling stores;       140
The trenches, as they drink the reeking tide,
Steam, and a slimy deluge stretches wide?
Nor slight the mischief, tho' the cultur'd soil
Of men and beasts confess the various toil,
If cranes and wicked geese the spot invade,       145
And bitter succ'ry spread, or trees o'ershade.

Nor thou repine: great Jove, with tasks untry'd
To rouse man's pow'rs, an easier way deny'd;
And first bade mortals stir with art the plain,
Lest sloth should dim the splendors of his reign.       150
Till then to lands no limits were assign'd,
No marks; the ground unlabour'd by the hind.
To gratify each want enough was found,
While earth unask'd diffus'd her gifts around.
Jove the black serpent arm'd with deadly bane,       155
Taught wolves to prey, and heav'd with storms the main,
Shook from the foliage the nectareous dew,
And fire's deep-bury'd seeds conceal'd from view,
Repress'd the wine, in purple rills which ran,
That gradual use might hew out arts from man,       160
That corn's green blade in furrows might be fought,
And from struck flints the fiery sparkle caught.
Then the scoopt alder's weight the wave first try'd;
The sailor, as he wander'd o'er the tide,
Number'd and nam'd the stars, that gild the sky,       165
The Pleiads, Hyads,and the Bear's bright eye.
Then toils and snares 'gainst beasts and birds were found;
With dogs the lawn's wide circuit some surround;
O'er the lash'd stream these teach the net to sweep,
Those drag the moisten'd meshes thro' the deep.       170
For grating saws their wedges they forsook,
As the rough ore a temper'd polish took.
Thus by long labour arts to arts succeed,
Such is the force of all-compelling need.
To turn the glebe first Ceres taught, when food       175
Fail'd wretched mortals in the sacred wood,
And ev'n Dodona ceas'd her custom'd fare:
The springing blade soon ask'd an added care;
On the thin stem the cancrous mildew fed,
And the vile thistle rear'd his prickly head.       180
The chok'd corn withers; a rough wood of weeds,
Caltrops and clivers, to the grain succeeds,
The fields' fair produce luckless darnels spoil,
And barren wild-oats lord it o'er the soil.
Go then, and daily harrow well the ground,       185
And scare with noises birds that hover round;
The trees' dark umbrage with your hook restrain,
And from the skies implore the kindly rain:
Else others' sheaves you'll see with longing eye;
And to the oak for mast half-famish'd fly.       190

Learn next the tools of Rustics; these unknown,
No gladd'ning crops can rise, no seed be sown.
The share, and crooked plough's more pond'rous frame,
And wain slow-moving of Eleusis' Dame;
Nor be the cumbrous harrows left unsaid,       195
Nor sleds, nor drays, nor crates of Arbutes made;
Nor Celeus' implements of osier twine,
Mean tools, nor Bacchus' winnowing fan divine.
All these with forecast sage you must prepare,
If ought of rural honours claim your care.       200

First in the woods by force is taught to bend
The tall tough elm, and in a plough-tail end:
To this eight feet in length, a pole; two ears;
A share-beam next with double back appears:
An handle in the lofty beech we find,       205
To guide the bottom of the plough behind;
The light lime lends materials for the yoke:
Let the wood long be season'd by the smoke.

If cares less weighty move not your disdain,
Some ancient precepts I may here explain.       210
First then, well moulded with the hand the floor
With chalk tenacious must be harden'd o'er,
And with a roller level'd, lest the ground
Gape into chinks thro' dust, or weeds abound.
The little mouse, (such pests thy hopes defeat)       215
Beneath the pavement oft has fixt his seat,
There form'd his granaries; or the sightless mole,
Poking his passage, dug some lurking hole;
Nor less the toad, and all the vermin kind,
That earth abundant breeds, some hollow find:       220
The weasel plunders with voracious rage,
And the ant pilfers, provident of age.
When to the walnut-tree the year allows
A plenteous bloom, and bends the scented boughs,
If nuts abound, exuberant crops you'll know,       225
And with rich threshings your rich floor will glow:
Should shadowy leaves luxuriant spread, in vain
From sheaves of chaff you would elicit grain.
Some I have seen indeed, who ere they dare
To sow, first medicate their seeds with care,       230
Soak them in nitre, and oil's lees distil,
That fruit more just the treacherous pods may fill.
Yet spite of industry and nicest art,
Tho' a mild heat it's quick'ning pow'rs impart,
The seeds grow worse, unless with pains severe       235
You cull the largest each revolving year:
Sure fate of human things that never stay,
But rolling backward hasten to decay.
Just so the man, who scarce with oars can guide
His vessel, struggling with the adverse tide,       240
If his tir'd arms relax, with sudden sweep
Snatcht by the stream drives headlong down the deep.

Nor should we mark with less observant care
The Kids, bright Dragon, and the northern Bear,
Than, who, thro' boist'rous seas returning, brave       245
Abydos' straits, and Pontus' whelming wave.
When Libra day and night has equal made,
And half the globe is light, and half is shade,
Then work your oxen, sow your barley grain,
Ev'n to the winter-solstices' last rain.       250
This too the fittest season has been found
To bury flax and poppy in the ground:
And at the harrows sweat, while earth is dry,
And the clouds hang yet harmless in the sky.
Beans ask the spring; then millet's annual toil;       255
Then for thee, medic! gapes the crumbling soil;
When the Bull's glist'ning horns the year unbar,
And the Dog setting shuns th' opponent star.
But if for wheat and spelt you ply the plain,
Attentive solely to the bearded grain,       260
The due seeds trust not to the furrow'd field,
Nor to earth rashly the year's promise yield,
Till at sol's rise the pleiad choir retires,
And Gnosus' blazing circlet veils her fires.
Many before the fall of Maia sow,       265
But empty ears are all the crop they know.
But if you sow the fasel vile, and tare,
And deem th' Ægyptian lentil worth your care,
Bootes sinking a sure mark will send;
Go! and your labour to mid-frost extend.       270
Hence o'er the portion'd orb with golden ray
Thro' twelve bright signs the sun exerts his sway:
Five zones the heav'ns embrace: one, still the same,
Eternal reddens with the solar flame:
At each extremest end on either side,       275
Stiff with black storms and ice, two more stretch wide:
These and the middle zone between, kind heav'n
Two more in pity to frail man has giv'n:
Thro' these a way is cut, in radiant round
Obliquely wheeling where the signs are found.       280
High as the world at Scythia's steeps ascends,
So low as Libya's sands it downward bends:
One pole for ever it's aerial brow
Lifts o'er our heads; one the pale ghosts below
And sable Styx beneath their feet behold:       285
There glides the Dragon of enormous mould,
And, winding like a river, wreaths his train
Between the Bears, the Bears that dread the main.
Here, or perpetual rests still night 'tis said,
And adds new horrors to the thick'ning shade,       290
Or from our hemisphere with gladd'ning ray
Aurora hastens, and brings back the day;
And when on us Sol's panting steeds first breath,
Then lights clear Vesper the late lamps beneath.

Hence in the dubious sky we learn to know       295
The threatening tempest, when to reap and sow,
Lash the false sea with oars, in lengthen'd line
Arrange arm'd fleets, or fell the forest-pine.
Nor think that vainly the stars set and rise,
Or that the vary'd year no hints supplies.       300
When chilly rains forbid abroad to roam,
Much may at leisure be prepar'd at home,
What need oft hurries, when the season's fair:       303
The ploughman to an edge whets the blunt share;
Scoops troughs from trees: nor less his flocks the swain
Marks, or prints numbers on his sacks of grain.
Some sharpen spars, and two-horn'd forks, and twine
From willows twigs to stay the flexile vine.
Now weave with bramble rods the frail's thin round;
With fire now roast the corn, with flints now pound.
Nay ev'n for festal days some works are fit,       311
Works, which the laws of gods and men permit.
Moist lands no rigour would refuse to drain,
Or with an hedge to fence the springing grain;
To burn the thorns, the feather'd race insnare,       315
Or in the river plunge the bleating care.
Nor to the city trudging on these days
Of oil and fruit the clown his trade delays;
Returning of black pitch he brings a mass,
Or with th' indented stone loads his slow ass.       320

Observe the moon; ev'n she for rural cares
In various order lucky days declares:
Beware the fifth: on this detested morn
Pale Orcus, and the sister-fiends were born;
Cæus, Japetus, then sprang to birth,       325
And fell Typhæus, the dire brood of Earth;
And Giant-brethren, who with frenzy fir'd
By force to rend heav'n's battlements conspir'd:
On Pelion thrice vast Ossa they essay'd
To heave; on Ossa next with all his shade       330
To roll Olympus: thrice th' eternal Sire
Split the proud structures with his balls of fire.
Of prosp'rous days the sev'nteenth he prefers,
Who plants his vineyard, tames reluctant steers,
And weaves the woof: the ninth for men in speed       335
Is best, but adverse to the knave in need.
For the cool night some tasks are fittest found,
Or when the Morn with dew first gems the ground.
At night the stubble, the dry meadows mow;
These hours a moisture fail not to bestow.       340
One, to point torches with a knife, all night
Wakes by a winter-fire's expiring light;
Mean while his wife to sooth his labour sings,
As thro' the loom the rattling shoot she flings,
Or of sweet must boils off the wat'ry part,       345
And scums the kettle's wavy foam with art.
At noon red Ceres sinks upon the plain;
At noon the threshers beat the roasted grain.
While lasts warm weather plow and sow your fields;
Winter long leisure to the farmer yields       350
The genial God, when pinching colds annoy,
Invites the rustic throng to scenes of joy;
Their stores in social intercourse they share,
And in carousals banish ev'ry care:
Happy as mariners, all perils past,       355
When their crown'd vessels touch the port at last.
Pluck acorns at this season of the year,
And of their fruits the bay and olive clear,
And strip the myrtle: toils and nets prepare
For cranes and stags, and trace the long-ear'd hare;
Now let the slinger learn to stun the doe,       361
While rivers push down ice, and earth lies deep in snow.
Why should I storms and signs autumnal sing?
Or tell, what vigilance it asks, when spring
In heavy show'rs precipitates away,       365
Or the days shorten, and the heats decay;
In the green stem when swells the milky grain,
And the spik'd harvests bristle all the plain?
Oft have I seen, when to the yellow land
The rural lord had brought his Reaper-band;       370
To the brown sheaf as he the swath applies,
Instant the warring winds tumultuous rise:
Rent from profoundest earth the scatter'd corn
With all it's weight of root aloft is born:
Whirling in rapid circles thro' the sky       375
Before the blast light chaff and stubble fly.
Oft a vast wat'ry throng from Ether pours,
And from the deep clouds thick'ning with black show'rs
Swell the dire storm: the skies burst rushing down,
And the fair fields in one vast deluge drown:       380
The dikes o'erflow; the rivers rise, and roar;
Of boiling ocean steams the straiten'd store.
Thron'd in the centre of dark clouds heav'n's Sire
Wings with his waving arm the forky fire:
Earth shudders at the shock; the beasts are fled,       385
And thro' wide regions mortals sunk with dread;
Or Rhodope, or Athos feels the blow,
Or of Ceraunia the proud tops bow low:
Rage the redoubling winds; with show'rs the ground
Smokes: to the tempest woods and shores resound.       390

This would you shun? the months and stars obey;
Note, in what orbs Cyllenius winds his way;
Where creeps cold Saturn, chief the Gods revere,
And to great Ceres, each revolving year,
Pay grateful off'rings on the grassy plain,       395
When spring succeeds to winter's dreary reign.
Then wines are mell'west; fat lambs crop the glade,
Then slumbers please, and hills grow brown with shade.
Ceres let all your rustic youth adore:
For her with milk and soft wine sprinkled o'er       400
Heap honey'd combs; and, while th' attendant throng
In glad procession raise the choral song,
Courting the Goddess to their roofs with cries,
Round the fresh fruits thrice lead the sacrifice:
Nor with rash hook dare one the ripe stalk wound,
Till, with the twisted oak his temples bound,       406
In uncouth measure first to Ceres' praise,
Frisking he beat the ground, and chant his lays.

By certain signs, so wills great Jove, the swain
Predicts heats, chilly winds, and rattling rain,       410
Reads in the monthly moon a sure presage,
And sees the marks of Auster's sinking rage.
Nor wants the Grazier tokens, when to call
His straggling cattle near the shelt'ring stall.
Strait, with the rising tempest, by degrees       415
Or heaves the tremulous surface of the seas,
And o'er the region of the hilly ground
Breaks a dry crackle; or afar resound
The billow-beaten shores, while swelling near
The forest's leafy rustle fills the ear.       420
Then scarce the waves forbear the crooked ship,
When from the middle of the surgy deep
Speed the swift Corm'rants screaming to the strand,
And sooty sea-coots gambol on the sand;
And herons, quitting their known marshes fly       425
Above the clouds, high-soaring in the sky.
Oft, wind impending, sudden to the sight
The stars shoot headlong from th' ethereal height,
Leaving behind long trails of light, that shine
Thro' night's gloom, dreaming in a silv'ry line.       430
Oft fluttering feathers on the pool's top play,
And chaff and falling foliage flit away.

But when from Boreas' quarter lightnings fly,
And East and West with thunders rend the sky,
O'er all the floated region foaming sweep       435
The dikes, and ev'ry sailor in the deep
Furls his wet sails: unwarn'd none rues the rain;
Either the cranes, who wing th' aerial plain,
Have shun'd it from the low vales, as it rose;
Or heifer, with look lifted and curl'd nose,       440
Snuffd the dank vapours; or with twitt'ring sound
O'er the lake's brim the swallow took her round;
Or, at the show'r's approach the croaking throng
Tun'd in the mud their melancholy song.
Oft has the ant, working her narrow road,       445
Brought out her eggs from her recluse abode,
And heav'n's bow drunk; and an unnumber'd croud
Of ravens with close pinions clatter'd loud,
Quitting their food: now fowl of wat'ry kind,
That in Cayster's lakes with bill declin'd       450
Pry o'er the meads of Asius, largely lave
Their backs, besprinkled with the dashing wave,
Now dare the waters, now the surface sweep,
And idly wet their plumage in the deep.
Then the rook calls the rain in lengthen'd tone,       455
And paces on the sandy waste alone.
Nor less the damsels, in nocturnal hour
Working their wool, foretel the coming show'r,
As the lamp burns, when sputt'ring sparkles round
Dart from the oil, and fungusses abound.       460

Nor from less certain tokens are foreseen
Days without show'rs, and an expanse serene:
For then the stars no languid lustre lend,
Nor does the Moon the vault of heav'n ascend
Glimm'ring with borrow'd beams, nor to the eye       465
Clouds of dun hue roll fleecy thro' the sky:
Nor do the birds, by Thetis lov'd, expand
To the warm sun their wings along the strand;
Nor with their snouts the swine about them throw
The loosen'd dunghill: but mists creeping low       470
Rest on the plain; and from some turret's height,
With weak eyes watching the departing light
In vain, the bird of night plies her late lay:
Aloft soars Nisus in th' aerial way;
For the bright lock just vengeance Scylla feels;       475
Where'er her flight with rapid wings she wheels,
In the same track her fierce avenger nigh
Nisus with whirring pinions beats the sky;
And where sublime in air he mounting springs,
Strait her swift flight she speeds with rapid wings.
Now do the ravens press their lengthen'd throats,
And at short intervals pour liquid notes;
And fluttering with a strange and new delight,
Oft fondly rustle in the leafy height,
Glad, when the storm is past, again to see       485
Their downy nests, and puny progeny.
Not that to birds, I trust, by Fate or Heav'n
A subtler mind, or prescience has been giv'n;
But when new properties in Ether rise,
Bred by the storm and fluctuating skies;       490
And, moisten'd by bleak Auster's blasts, the air
The thin condenses, or the dense makes rare;
Their minds too sympathize, and changeful own
An impulse, while the tempest rag'd, unknown:
Hence with the feather'd choir, the fields rejoice,       495
The cattle frisk, and ravens lift their voice.

But if you give to Sol attention due,
And with strict eye the moons successive view,
Securely may you trust the following day,
Nor will the night's serenity betray.       500
When Phœbe first receives her Brother's beam,
If thro' dark air her horns obscurely gleam,
Th' impending show'r on land and ocean dread:
But if her face be flush'd with virgin red,
Expect a tempest; sage observers find,       505
Bright Phœbe reddens with the rising wind.
At her fourth rise, of all the surest sign,
If with sharp horns in air serene she shine,
That day and all, progressive in their train,
To a full month, will want both wind and rain;       510
And the glad mariner, all perils o'er,
Pay to the Gods his off'rings on the shore.

Sol too prognostics of the weather sends,
When he begins his course, and when he ends;
Prognostics certain, both what he supplies       515
At early morn, and when the stars arise.
When, wrapt in clouds, he climbs the eastern height,
Vary'd with spots, and half recedes from sight,
Suspects a show'r; for, rushing from the seas,
The South, pernicious to herds, corn, and trees,       520
Drives the dark storm; or, when at dawn of day
He here and there darts forth a diverse ray
'Mong thick'ning clouds; or, with wan hue o'erspread,
Aurora rises from Tithonus' bed,
Ah! little will the leaf the grapes avail,       525
So fast on roofs bounds the rough rattling hail.
This too more useful cautions will supply,
When, having run his round, he quits the sky:
For his bright orb oft diff'ring colours stain:
The fiery storms; the blue denounces rain.       530
But should the specks with flame be redden'd o'er,
Soon wind and clouds will burst forth in a roar.
That night, ah! tempt me not the seas to dare,
Nor rashly from the coast the cable tear.
But if the Sun, when he rolls down the day,       535
And when restores it, shine with lucid ray,
In vain the clouds alarm: the woods you'll find
Wave their green tops before the clear north-wind.

Lastly by signs unerring he declares       539
What late Eve brings, what the moist South prepares,
Whence the wind drives the thin clouds' sweepy train:
Lives there, who deems the Sun's predictions vain?
He warns, when madding tumults are at hand,
When fraud, and wars long-hidden threat the land:
He felt a pang for Rome, great Cæsar dead,       545
When with dark purple his refulgent head
He veil'd from view, and, shuddering at the sight,
The guilty nations fear'd eternal night.
Earth too, the billows of the wat'ry way,
Birds, and ill-omen'd dogs presag'd that day.       550
Oft Ætna waving has been seen to pour
O'er the Cyclopean fields a burning show'r
From her rent caverns, and with bellowing sound
Shoot globes of fire, and molten rocks around.
Germania heard aerial clang of arms;       555
And Alps, portentous, shook with new alarms.
Thro' the still groves oft, bursting on the ear,
A loud voice swells: all-ghastly pale appear
Spectres at dusk of eve: beasts hold discourse,
Hideous to tell! and rivers cease their course:       560
Earth yawns: the sorrowing iv'ry in the fanes
Weeps, and a trickling dew the brass distains.
Eridanus, great king of Latian floods,
With rapid whirl uprooted loftiest woods,
And foaming frantic with impetuous sway       565
O'er all the plains swept herds and stalls away.
Nor did the fibres at that time forbear
In the slain victims menaces to wear:
The wells ran blood; and in the dead of night
Loud-howling wolves fill'd cities with affright.       570
Ne'er did more light'nings thro' a sky serene
Flash; nor so oft were blazing comets seen.
For this a second time with rival rage
Philippi saw the Roman hosts engage;
And twice Emathia, (nor the Gods withstood)       575
And Hæmus' fields were fatten'd with our blood.

The days will come, when in these tracts the swain,
As with his plough he drudges at the plain,
Shall find worn jav'lins, cank'ring in the ground,
Or, as he harrows, hear a tinkling sound       580
From the struck helms, and see with wond'ring eyes
Bones, dug from graves, of more than human size.

Ye guardian Gods! Indigetes! whose care
Tiber, and Rome's imperial grandeur share,
Check not this Youth, who labours to restore       585
A world degenerate; we request no more.
Our blood for past offences may suffice,
Too dear a price for royal perjuries.
Long since the Gods, repining at thy stay,       589
Would court thee, Cæsar, from earth's pomps away.
For now below men right and wrong confound;
So many wars, such various crimes abound:
No worthy honour to the plough remains;
The fields all-squalid mourn their ravish'd swains;
Straight swords are hammer'd from the crooked share:
Euphrates maddens here, Germania there:       596
Confed'rate states discordant rise in arms,
All leagues dissolv'd: fell Mars with dire alarms
Raves round the globe; as pouring from the goal
With added speed the rival chariots roll:       600
Rapt by the steeds the Racer tugs in vain;
Swift flies the car, reluctant to the rein.