The Works of Virgil (Dryden)/Georgics (Dryden)/Book 1

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Illustration of Georgic 1, line 1, "What makes a plenteous Harvest, when to turn"
Illustration of Georgic 1, line 1, "What makes a plenteous Harvest, when to turn"

Virgil's Georgics.

The First Book of the Georgics.


The Poet, in the beginning of this Book, propounds the general Design of each Georgic: And after a solemn Invocation of all the Gods who are any way related to his Subject, he addresses himself in particular to Augustus, whom he complements with Divinity; and after strikes into his Business. He shews the different kinds of Tillage proper to different Soils, traces out the Original of Agriculture, gives a Catalogue of the Husbandman's Tools, specifies the Employments peculiar to each Season, describes the changes of the Weather, with the Signs in Heaven and Earth that fore-bode them. Instances many of the Prodigies that happen'd near the time of Julius Caesar's Death. And shuts up all with a Supplication to the Gods for the Safety of Augustus, and the Preservation of Rome.

WHAT makes a plenteous Harvest, when to turn
The fruitful Soil, and when to sowe the Corn;
The Care of Sheep, of Oxen, and of Kine;
And how to raise on Elms the teeming Vine:
The Birth and Genius of the frugal Bee,5
I sing, Mecænas, and I sing to thee.

Ye Deities! who Fields and Plains protect,
Who rule the Seasons, and the Year direct;
Bacchus and fost'ring Ceres, Pow'rs Divine,
Who gave us Corn for Mast, for Water Wine:10
Ye Fawns, propitious to the Rural Swains,
Ye Nymphs that haunt the Mountains and the Plains,
Join in my Work, and to my Numbers bring
Your needful Succour, for your Gifts I sing.
And thou, whose Trident struck the teeming Earth,
And made a Passage for the Coursers Birth.16
And thou, for whom the Cæan Shore sustains
Thy Milky Herds, that graze the Flow'ry Plains.
And thou, the Shepherds tutelary God,
Leave, for a while, O Pan! thy lov'd Abode: 20
And, if Arcadian Fleeces be thy Care,
From Fields and Mountains to my Song repair.
Inventor, Pallas, of the fat'ning Oyl,
Thou Founder of the Plough and Plough-man's Toyl;
And thou, whose Hands the Shrowd-like Cypress rear;
Come all ye Gods and Goddesses, that wear26
The rural Honours, and increase the Year.
You, who supply the Ground with Seeds of Grain;
And you, who swell those Seeds with kindly Rain:
And chiefly thou, whose undetermin'd State 30
Is yet the Business of the Gods Debate:
Whether in after Times to be declar'd
The Patron of the World, and Rome's peculiar Guard,

Or o'er the Fruits and Seasons to preside,
And the round Circuit of the Year to guide.35
Pow'rful of Blessings, which thou strew'st around,
And with thy Goddess Mother's Myrtle crown'd.
Or wilt thou, Cæsar, chuse the watry Reign,
To smooth the Surges, and correct the Main?
Then Mariners, in Storms, to thee shall pray,40
Ev'n utmost Thule shall thy Pow'r obey;
And Neptune shall resign the Fasces of the Sea.
The wat'ry Virgins for thy Bed shall strive,
And Tethys all her Waves in Dowry give.
Or wilt thou bless our Summers with thy Rays, 45
And seated near the Ballance, poise the Days:
Where in the Void of Heav'n a Space is free,
Betwixt the Scorpion and the Maid for thee.
The Scorpion ready to receive thy Laws,
Yields half his Region, and contracts his Claws.50
Whatever part of Heav'n thou shalt obtain,
For let not Hell presume of such a Reign;
Nor let so dire a Thirst of Empire move
Thy Mind, to leave thy Kindred Gods above.
Tho' Greece admires Elysium's blest Retreat,55
Tho' Proserpine affects her silent Seat,
And importun'd by Ceres to remove,
Prefers the Fields below to those above.
But thou, propitious Cæsar, guide my Course,
And to my bold Endeavours add thy Force. 60

Pity the Poet's and the Ploughman's Cares,
Int'rest thy Greatness in our mean Affairs,
And use thy self betimes to hear our Pray'rs.
While yet the Spring is young, while Earth unbinds
Her frozen Bosom to the Western Winds;65
While Mountain Snows dissolve against the Sun,
And Streams, yet new, from Precipices run.
Ev'n in this early Dawning of the Year,
Produce the Plough, and yoke the sturdy Steer,
And goad him till he groans beneath his Toil,70
Till the bright Share is bury'd in the Soil.
That Crop rewards the greedy Peasant's Pains,
Which twice the Sun, and twice the Cold sustains,
And bursts the crowded Barns, with more than promis'd Gains.
But e'er we stir the yet unbroken Ground,
The various Course of Seasons must be found;76
The Weather, and the setting of the Winds,
The Culture suiting to the sev'ral Kinds
Of Seeds and Plants; and what will thrive and rise,
And what the Genius of the Soil denies.80
This Ground with Bacchus, that with Ceres suits:
That other loads the Trees with happy Fruits.
A fourth with Grass, unbidden, decks the Ground:
Thus Tmolus is with yellow Saffron crown'd:
India, black Ebon and white Ivory bears:85
And soft Idume weeps her od'rous Tears.
Thus Pontus sends her Beaver Stones from far;
And naked Spanyards temper Steel for War.

Epirus for th' Elean Chariot breeds,
(In hopes of Palms,) a Race of running Steeds.90
This is the Orig'nal Contract; these the Laws
Impos'd by Nature, and by Nature's Cause,
On sundry Places, when Deucalion hurl'd
his Mother's Entrails on the desart World:
Whence Men, a hard laborious Kind, were born.
Then borrow part of Winter for thy Corn;96
And early with thy Team the Gleeb in Furrows turn.
That while the Turf lies open, and unbound,
Succeeding Suns may bake the Mellow Ground.
But if the Soil be barren, only scar 100
The Surface, and but lightly print the Share,
When cold Arcturus rises with the Sun:
Lest wicked Weeds the Corn shou'd over-run
In watry Soils; or lest the barren Sand
Shou'd suck the Moisture from the thirsty Land.105
Both these unhappy Soils the Swain forbears,
And keeps a Sabbath of alternate Years:
That the spent Earth may gather heart again;
And, better'd by Cessation, bear the Grain.
At least where Vetches, Pulse, and Tares have stood,
And Stalks of Lupines grew (a stubborn Wood:)111
Th' ensuing Season, in return, may bear
The bearded product of the Golden Year.
For Flax and Oats will burn the tender Field,
And sleepy Poppies harmful Harvests yield.115

But sweet Vicissitudes of Rest and Toyl
Make easy Labour, and renew the Soil.
Yet sprinkle sordid Ashes all around,
And load with fat'ning Dung thy fallow Ground.
Thus change of Seeds for meagre Soils is best; 120
And Earth manur'd, not idle, though at rest.
Long Practice has a sure Improvement found,
With kindled Fires to burn the barren Ground;
When the light Stubble, to the Flames resign'd,
Is driv'n along, and crackles in the Wind.125
Whether from hence the hollow Womb of Earth
Is warm'd with secret Strength for better Birth,
Or when the latent Vice is cur'd by Fire,
Redundant Humours thro' the Pores expire;129
Or that the Warmth distends the Chinks, and makes
New Breathings, whence new Nourishment she takes;
Or that the Heat the gaping Ground constrains,
New Knits the Surface, and new Strings the Veins;
Lest soaking Show'rs shou'd pierce her secret Seat,
Or freezing Boreas chill her genial Heat;135
Or scorching Suns too violently beat.
Nor is the Profit small, the Peasant makes;
Who smooths with Harrows, or who pounds with Rakes
The crumbling Clods: Nor Ceres from on high
Regards his Labours with a grudging Eye;140
Nor his, who plows across the furrow'd Grounds,
And on the Back of Earth inflicts new Wounds:

For he with frequent Exercise Commands
Th' unwilling Soil, and tames the stubborn Lands.
Ye Swains, invoke the Pow'rs who rule the Sky,
For a moist Summer, and a Winter dry:146
For Winter drout rewards the Peasant's Pain,
And broods indulgent on the bury'd Grain.
Hence Mysia boasts her Harvests, and the tops
Of Gargarus admire their happy Crops.150
When first the Soil receives the fruitful Seed,
Make no delay, but cover it with speed:
So fenc'd from Cold; the plyant Furrows break,
Before the surly Clod resists the Rake.
And call the Floods from high, to rush amain 155
With pregnant Streams, to swell the teeming Grain.
Then when the fiery Suns too fiercely play,
And shrivell'd Herbs on with'ring Stems decay,
The wary Ploughman, on the Mountain's Brow,
Undams his watry Stores, huge Torrents flow;160
And, ratling down the Rocks, large moisture yield,
Temp'ring the thirsty Fever of the Field.
And lest the Stem, too feeble for the freight,
Shou'd scarce sustain the head's unweildy weight,
Sends in his feeding Flocks betimes t'invade 165
The rising bulk of the luxuriant Blade;
E'er yet th'aspiring Off-spring of the Grain
O'ertops the ridges of the furrow'd Plain:
And drains the standing Waters, when they yield
Too large a Bev'rage to the drunken Field. 170

But most in Autumn, and the show'ry Spring,
When dubious Months uncertain Weather bring;
When Fountains open, when impetuous Rain
Swells hasty Brooks, and pours upon the Plain;
When Earth with Slime and Mud is cover'd o'er, 175
Or hollow places spue their wat'ry Store.
Nor yet the Ploughman, nor the lab'ring Steer,
Sustain alone the hazards of the Year:
But glutton Geese, and the Strymonian Crane,
With foreign Troops, invade the tender Grain:180
And tow'ring Weeds malignant Shadows yield;
And spreading Succ'ry choaks the rising Field.
The Sire of Gods and Men, with hard Decrees,
Forbids our Plenty to be bought with Ease:
And wills that Mortal Men, inur'd to toil,185
Shou'd exercise, with pains, the grudging Soil.
Himself invented first the shining Share,
And whetted Humane Industry by Care:
Himself did Handy-Crafts and Arts ordain;
Nor suffer'd Sloath to rust his active Reign.190
E'er this, no Peasant vex'd the peaceful Ground;
Which only Turfs and Greens for Altars found:
No Fences parted Fields, nor Marks nor Bounds
Distinguish'd Acres of litigious Grounds:
But all was common, and the fruitful Earth 195
Was free to give her unexacted Birth.
Jove added Venom to the Viper's Brood,
And swell'd, with raging Storms, the peaceful Flood:

Commission'd hungry Wolves t' infest the Fold,
And shook from Oaken Leaves the liquid Gold. 200
Remov'd from Humane reach the chearful Fire,
And from the Rivers bade the Wine retire:
That studious Need might useful Arts explore;
From furrow'd Fields to reap the foodful Store:
And force the Veins of clashing Flints t' expire 205
The lurking Seeds of their Cœlestial Fire.
Then first on Seas the hollow'd Alder swam;
Then Sailers quarter'd Heav'n, and found a Name
For ev'ry fix'd and ev'ry wandring Star:
The Pleiads, Hyads, and the Northern Car.210
Then Toils for Beasts, and Lime for Birds were found,
And deep-mouth Dogs did Forrest Walks surround:
And casting Nets were spread in shallow Brooks,
Drags in the Deep, and Baits were hung on Hooks.
Then Saws were tooth'd, and sounding Axes made;215
(For Wedges first did yielding Wood invade.)
And various Arts in order did succeed,
(What cannot endless Labour urg'd by need?)
First Ceres taught, the Ground with Grain to sow,
And arm'd with Iron Shares the crooked Plough;220
When now Dodonian Oaks no more supply'd
Their Mast, and Trees their Forrest-fruit deny'd.
Soon was his Labour doubl'd to the Swain,
And blasting Mildews blackened all his Grain.224
Tough Thistles choak'd the Fields, and kill'd the Corn,
And an unthrifty Crop of Weeds was born.

Then Burrs and Brambles, an unbidden Crew
Of graceless Guests, th' unhappy Field subdue:
And Oats unblest, and Darnel domineers,
And shoots its head above the shining Ears. 230
So that unless the Land with daily Care
Is exercis'd, and with an Iron War,
Of Rakes and Harrows, the proud Foes expell'd,
And Birds with clamours frighted from the Field;
Unless the Boughs are lopp'd that shade the Plain, 235
And Heav'n invok'd with Vows for fruitful Rain,
On other Crops you may with envy look,
And shake for Food the long abandon'd Oak.
Nor must we pass untold what Arms they wield,
Who labour Tillage and the furrow'd Field: 240
Without whose aid the Ground her Corn denys,
And nothing can be sown, and nothing rise.
The crooked Plough, the Share, the towr'ing height
Of Waggons, and the Cart's unweildy weight;
The Sled, the Tumbril, Hurdles and the Flail, 245
The Fan of Bacchus, with the flying Sail.
These all must be prepar'd, if Ploughmen hope
The promis'd Blessing of a Bounteous Crop.
Young Elms with early force in Copses bow,
Fit for the Figure of the crooked Plough. 250
Of eight Foot long a fastned Beam prepare,
On either side the Head produce an Ear,
And sink a Socket for the shining Share.

Illustration of Georgic 1. line 240, "Who labour Tillage and the furrow'd Field"
Illustration of Georgic 1. line 240, "Who labour Tillage and the furrow'd Field"

Of Beech the Plough-tail, and the bending Yoke;
Or softer Linden harden'd in the Smoke.255
I cou'd be long in Precepts, but I fear
So mean a Subject might offend your Ear.
Delve of convenient Depth your thrashing Floor;
With temper'd Clay, then fill and face it o'er:
And let the weighty Rowler run the round,260
To smooth the Surface of th' unequal Ground;
Lest crack'd with Summer Heats the flooring flies,
Or sinks, and thro' the Crannies Weeds arise.
For sundry Foes the Rural Realm surround:
The Field Mouse builds her Garner under ground,265
For gather'd Grain the blind laborious Mole,
In winding Mazes works her hidden Hole.
In hollow Caverns Vermine make abode,
The hissing Serpent, and the swelling Toad:
The Corn devouring Weezel here abides,270
And the wise Ant her wintry Store provides.
Mark well the flowring Almonds in the Wood;
If od'rous Blooms the bearing Branches load,
The Glebe will answer to the Sylvan Reign,
Great Heats will follow, and large Crops of Grain.275
But if a Wood of Leaves o'er-shade the Tree,
Such and so barren will thy Harvest be:
In vain the Hind shall vex the thrashing Floor,
For empty Chaff and Straw will be thy Store.
Some steep their Seed, and some in Cauldrons boil280
With vigorous Nitre, and with Lees of Oyl,

O'er gentle Fires; th' exuberant Juice to drain,
And swell the flatt'ring Husks with fruitful Grain.
Yet is not the Success for Years assur'd,
Tho' chosen is the Seed, and fully cur'd; 285
Unless the Peasant, with his Annual Pain,
Renews his Choice, and culls the largest Grain.
Thus all below, whether by Nature's Curse,
Or Fates Decree, degen'rate still to worse.
So the Boats brawny Crew the Current stem,290
And, slow advancing, struggle with the Stream:
But if they slack their hands, or cease to strive,
Then down the Flood with headlong haste they drive.
Nor must the Ploughman less observe the Skies,
When the Kidds, Dragon, and Arcturus rise, 295
Than Saylors homeward bent, who cut their Way
Thro' Helle's stormy Streights, and Oyster-breeding Sea.
But when Astrea's Ballance, hung on high,
Betwixt the Nights and Days divides the Sky,
Then Yoke your Oxen, sow your Winter Grain; 300
Till cold December comes with driving Rain.
Lineseed and fruitful Poppy bury warm,
In a dry Season, and prevent the Storm.
Sow Beans and Clover in a rotten Soyl,
And Millet rising from your Annual Toyl; 305
When with his Golden Horns, in full Cariere,
The Bull beats down the Barriers of the Year;
And Argos and the Dog forsake the Northern Sphere.

But if your Care to Wheat alone extend,
Let Maja with her Sisters first descend,310
And the bright Gnosian Diadem downward bend:
Before you trust in Earth your future Hope;
Or else expect a listless lazy Crop.
Some Swains have sown before, but most have found
A husky Harvest, from the grudging Ground. 315
Vile Vetches wou'd you sow, or Lentils lean,
The Growth of Egypt, or the Kidney-bean?
Begin when the slow Waggoner descends,
Nor cease your sowing till Mid-winter ends:
For this, thro' twelve bright Signs Apollo guides 320
The Year, and Earth in sev'ral Climes divides.
Five Girdles bind the Skies, the torrid Zone
Glows with the passing and repassing Sun.
Far on the right and left, th' extreams of Heav'n,
To Frosts and Snows, and bitter Blasts are giv'n.325
Betwixt the midst and these, the Gods assign'd
Two habitable Seats for Humane Kind:
And cross their limits cut a sloping way,
Which the twelve Signs in beauteous order sway.
Two Poles turn round the Globe; one seen to rise 330
O'er Scythian Hills, and one in Lybian Skies.
The first sublime in Heav'n, the last is whirl'd
Below the Regions of the nether World.
Around our Pole the spiry Dragon glides,
And like a winding Stream the Bears divides; 335

The less and greater, who by Fates Decree
Abhor to dive beneath the Southern Sea:
There, as they say, perpetual Night is found
In silence brooding on th' unhappy ground:
Or when Aurora leaves our Northern Sphere, 340
She lights the downward Heav'n, and rises there.
And when on us she breaths the living Light,
Red Vesper kindles there the Tapers of the Night.
From hence uncertain Seasons we may know;
And when to reap the Grain, and when to sow: 345
Or when to fell the Furzes, when 'tis meet
To spread the flying Canvass for the Fleet.
Observe what Stars arise or disappear;
And the four Quarters of the rolling Year.
But when cold Weather and continu'd Rain, 350
The lab'ring Husband in his House restrain:
Let him forecast his Work with timely care,
Which else is huddl'd, when the Skies are fair:
Then let him mark the Sheep, or whet the shining Share.
Or hollow Trees for Boats, or number o'er 355
His Sacks, or measure his increasing Store:
Or sharpen Stakes, or head the Forks, or twine
The Sallow Twigs to tye the stragling Vine:
Or wicker Baskets weave, or aire the Corn,
Or grinded Grain betwixt two Marbles turn.360
No Laws, Divine or Humane, can restrain
From necessary Works, the lab'ring Swain.

Illustration of Georgic 1, line 390, "To work by Night, and rake the Winter Fire"
Illustration of Georgic 1, line 390, "To work by Night, and rake the Winter Fire"

Ev'n Holy-days and Feasts permission yield,
To float the Meadows, or to fence the Field,
To fire the Brambles, snare the Birds, and steep365
In wholsom Water-falls the woolly Sheep.
And oft the drudging Ass is driv'n, with Toyl,
To neighb'ring Towns with Apples and with Oyl:
Returning late, and loaden home with Gain
Of barter'd Pitch, and Hand-mills for the Grain. 370
The lucky Days, in each revolving Moon,
For Labour chuse: The Fifth be sure to shun;
That gave the Furies and pale Pluto Birth,
And arm'd, against the Skies, the Sons of Earth.
With Mountains pil'd on Mountains, thrice they strove
To scale the steepy Battlements of Jove: 375
And thrice his Lightning and red Thunder play'd,
And their demolish'd Works in Ruin laid.
The Sev'nth is, next the Tenth, the best to join
Young Oxen to the Yoke, and plant the Vine. 380
Then Weavers stretch your Stays upon the Weft:
The Ninth is good for Travel, bad for Theft.
Some Works in dead of Night are better done;
Or when the Morning Dew prevents the Sun.
Parch'd Meads and Stubble mow, by Phœbe's Light;
Which both require the Coolness of the Night:386
For Moisture then abounds, and Pearly Rains
Descend in Silence to refresh the Plains.
The Wife and Husband equally conspire,
To work by Night, and rake the Winter Fire: 390

He sharpens Torches in the glim'ring Room,
She shoots the flying Shuttle through the Loom:
Or boils in Kettles Must of Wine, and skins
With Leaves, the Dregs that overflow the Brims.
And till the watchful Cock awakes the Day,395
She sings to drive the tedious hours away.
But in warm Weather, when the Skies are clear,
By Daylight reap the Product of the Year:
And in the Sun your golden Grain display,
And thrash it out, and winnow it by Day. 400
Plough naked, Swain, and naked sow the Land,
For lazy Winter nums the lab'ring Hand.
In Genial Winter, Swains enjoy their Store,
Forget their Hardships, and recruit for more.
The Farmer to full Bowls invites his Friends,405
And what he got with Pains, with Pleasure spends.
So Saylors, when escap'd from stormy Seas,
First crown their Vessels, then indulge their Ease.
Yet that's the proper Time to thrash the Wood
For Mast of Oak, your Fathers homely Food. 410
To gather Laurel-berries, and the Spoil
Of bloody Myrtles, and to press your Oyl.
For stalking Cranes to set the guileful Snare,
T' inclose the Stags in Toyls, and Hunt the Hare.
With Balearick Slings, or Gnossian Bow,415
To persecute from far the flying Doe.
Then, when the Fleecy Skies new cloath the Wood,
And cakes of rustling Ice come rolling down the Flood.

Now sing we stormy Stars, when Autumn weighs
The Year, and adds to Nights, and shortens Days;
And Suns declining shine with feeble Rays:421
What Cares must then attend the toiling Swain;
Or when the low'ring Spring, with lavish Rain,
Beats down the slender Stem and bearded Grain:
While yet the Head is green, or lightly swell'd425
With Milky-moisture, over-looks the Field.
Ev'n when the Farmer, now secure of Fear,
Sends in the Swains to spoil the finish'd Year:
Ev'n while the Reaper fills his greedy hands,
And binds the golden Sheafs in brittle bands: 430
Oft have I seen a sudden Storm arise,
From all the warring Winds that sweep the Skies:
The heavy Harvest from the root is torn,
And whirl'd aloft the lighter Stubble born;
With such a force the flying rack is driv'n;435
And such a Winter wears the face of Heav'n:
And oft whole sheets descend of slucy Rain,
Suck'd by the spongy Clouds from off the Main:
The lofty Skies at once come pouring down,
The promis'd Crop and golden Labours drown.440
The Dykes are fill'd, and with a roaring sound
The rising Rivers float the nether ground;
And Rocks the bellowing Voice of boiling Seas rebound.
The Father of the Gods his Glory shrowds,
Involv'd in Tempests, and a Night of Clouds.

And from the middle Darkness flashing out,
By fits he deals his fiery Bolts about.
Earth feels the Motions of her angry God,
Her Entrails tremble, and her Mountains nod;
And flying Beasts in Forests seek abode: 450
Deep horrour seizes ev'ry Humane Breast,
Their Pride is humbled, and their Fear confess'd:
While he from high his rowling Thunder throws,
And fires the Mountains with repeated blows:
The Rocks are from their old Foundations rent; 455
The Winds redouble, and the Rains augment:
The Waves on heaps are dash'd against the Shoar,
And now the Woods, and now the Billows roar.
In fear of this, observe the starry Signs,
Where Saturn houses, and where Hermes joins.460
But first to Heav'n thy due Devotions pay,
And Annual Gifts on Ceres Altars lay.
When Winter's rage abates, when chearful Hours
Awake the Spring, and Spring awakes the Flow'rs,
On the green Turf thy careless Limbs display, 465
And celebrate the mighty Mother's day.
For then the Hills with pleasing Shades are crown'd,
And Sleeps are sweeter on the silken Ground:
With milder Beams the Sun securely shines;
Fat are the Lambs, and luscious are the Wines. 470
Let ev'ry Swain adore her Pow'r Divine,
And Milk and Honey mix with sparkling Wine:

Illustration of Georgic 1, line 475, "Invoke her to bless their yearly Stores"
Illustration of Georgic 1, line 475, "Invoke her to bless their yearly Stores"

Let all the Choir of Clowns attend the Show,
In long Procession, shouting as they go;
Invoking her to bless their yearly Stores,475
Inviting Plenty to their crowded Floors.
Thus in the Spring, and thus in Summer's Heat,
Before the Sickles touch the ripening Wheat,
On Ceres call; and let the lab'ring Hind
With Oaken Wreaths his hollow Temples bind: 480
On Ceres let him call, and Ceres praise,
With uncouth Dances, and with Country Lays.
And that by certain signs we may presage
Of Heats and Rains, and Wind's impetuous rage,
The Sov'reign of the Heav'ns has set on high 485
The Moon, to mark the Changes of the Sky:
When Southern blasts shou'd cease, and when the Swain
Shou'd near their Folds his feeding Flocks restrain.
For e'er the rising Winds begin to roar,
The working Seas advance to wash the Shoar: 490
Soft whispers run along the leavy Woods,
And Mountains whistle to the murm'ring Floods:
Ev'n then the doubtful Billows scarce abstain
From the toss'd Vessel on the troubled Main:
When crying Cormorants forsake the Sea, 495
And stretching to the Covert wing their way:
When sportful Coots run skimming o'er the Strand;
When watchful Herons leave their watry Stand,
And mounting upward, with erected flight,
Gain on the Skies, and soar above the sight.500

And oft before tempest'ous Winds arise,
The seeming Stars fall headlong from the Skies;
And, shooting through the darkness, guild the Night
With sweeping Glories, and long trails of Light:
And Chaff with eddy Winds is whirl'd around,505
And dancing Leaves are lifted from the Ground;
And floating Feathers on the Waters play.
But when the winged Thunder takes his way
From the cold North, and East and West ingage,
And at their Frontiers meet with equal rage, 510
The Clouds are crush'd, a glut of gather'd Rain
The hollow Ditches fills, and floats the Plain,
And Sailors furl their dropping Sheets amain.
Wet weather seldom hurts the most unwise,
So plain the Signs, such Prophets are the Skies:515
The wary Crane foresees it first, and sails
Above the Storm, and leaves the lowly Vales:
The Cow looks up, and from afar can find
The change of Heav'n, and snuffs it in the Wind.
The Swallow skims the River's watry Face, 520
The Frogs renew the Croaks of their loquacious Race.
The careful Ant her secret Cell forsakes,
And drags her Egs along the narrow Tracks.
At either Horn the Rainbow drinks the Flood,
Huge Flocks of rising Rooks forsake their Food, 525
And, crying, seek the Shelter of the Wood.
Besides, the sev'ral sorts of watry Fowls,
That swim the Seas, or haunt the standing Pools:

The Swans that sail along the Silver Flood,529
And dive with stretching Necks to search their Food.
Then lave their Backs with sprinkling Dews in vain,
And stem the Stream to meet the promis'd Rain.
The Crow with clam'rous Cries the Show'r demands,
And single stalks along the Desart Sands.
The nightly Virgin, while her Wheel she plies,535
Foresees the Storm impending in the Skies,
When sparkling Lamps their sputt'ring Light advance,
And in the Sockets Oyly Bubbles dance.
Then after Show'rs, 'tis easie to descry
Returning Suns, and a serener Sky: 540
The Stars shine smarter, and the Moon adorns,
As with unborrow'd Beams, her sharpen'd Horns.
The filmy Gossamer now flitts no more,
Nor Halcyons bask on the short Sunny Shoar:
Their Litter is not toss'd by Sows unclean, 545
But a blue droughty Mist descends upon the Plain.
And Owls, that mark the setting Sun, declare
A Star-light Evening, and a Morning fair.
Tow'ring aloft, avenging Nisus flies,
While dar'd below the guilty Scylla lies. 550
Where-ever frighted Scylla flies away,
Swift Nisus follows, and pursues his Prey.
Where injur'd Nisus takes his Airy Course,
Thence trembling Scylla flies and shuns his Force.
This punishment pursues th' unhappy Maid, 555
And thus the purple Hair is dearly paid.

Then, thrice the Ravens rend the liquid Air,
And croaking Notes proclaim the settled fair.
Then, round their Airy Palaces they fly,
To greet the Sun; and seis'd with secret Joy,560
When Storms are over-blown, with Food repair
To their forsaken Nests, and callow Care.
Not that I think their Breasts with Heav'nly Souls
Inspir'd, as Man, who Destiny controls.
But with the changeful Temper of the Skies,565
As Rams condense, and Sun-shine rarifies;
So turn the Species in their alter'd Minds,
Compos'd by Calms, and disoompos'd by Winds.
From hence proceeds the Birds harmonious Voice:
From hence the Cows exult, and frisking Lambs rejoice.
Observe the daily Circle of the Sun,571
And the short Year of each revolving Moon:
By them thou shalt foresee the following day;
Nor shall a starry Night thy Hopes betray.
When first the Moon appears, if then she shrouds575
Her silver Crescent, tip'd with sable Clouds;
Conclude she bodes a Tempest on the Main,
And brews for Fields impetuous Floods of Rain.
Or if her Face with fiery Flushing glow,
Expect the ratling Winds aloft to blow.580
But four Nights old, (for that's the surest Sign,)
With sharpen'd Horns if glorious then she shine:
Next Day, nor only that, but all the Moon,
Till her revolving Race be wholly run;

Are void of Tempests, both by Land and Sea,585
And Saylors in the Port their promis'd Vow shall pay.
Above the rest, the Sun, who never lies;
Foretels the change of Weather in the Skies:
For if he rise, unwilling to his Race,
Clouds on his Brows, and Spots upon his Face; 590
Or if thro' Mists he shoots his sullen Beams,
Frugal of Light, in loose and stragling Streams:
Suspect a drisling Day, with Southern Rain,
Fatal to Fruits, and Flocks, and promis'd Grain.
Or if Aurora, with half open'd Eyes, 595
And a pale sickly Cheek, salute the Skies;
How shall the Vine, with tender Leaves, defend
Her teeming Clusters, when the Storms descend?
When ridgy Roofs and Tiles can scarce avail,
To barr the Ruin of the ratling Hail. 600
But more than all, the setting Sun survey,
When down the Steep of Heav'n he drives the Day.
For oft we find him finishing his Race,
With various Colours erring on his Face;
If fiery red his glowing Globe descends, 605
High Winds and furious Tempests he portends.
But if his Cheeks are swoln with livid blue,
He bodes wet Weather by his watry Hue.
If dusky Spots are vary'd on his Brow,
And, streak'd with red, a troubl'd Colour show; 610
That sullen Mixture shall at once declare
Winds, Rain, and Storms, and Elemental War:

What desp'rate Madman then wou'd venture o'er
The Frith, or haul his Cables from the Shoar?
But if with Purple Rays he brings the Light,615
And a pure Heav'n resigns to quiet Night;
No rising Winds, or falling Storms, are nigh:
But Northern Breezes through the Forest fly:
And drive the rack, and purge the ruffl'd Sky.
Th' unerring Sun by certain Signs declares,620
What the late Ev'n, or early Morn prepares:
And when the South projects a stormy Day,
And when the clearing North will puff the Clouds away.
The Sun reveals the Secrets of the Sky;
And who dares give the Source of Light the Lye?625
The change of Empires often he declares,
Fierce Tumults, hidden Treasons, open Wars.
He first the Fate of Cæsar did foretel,
And pity'd Rome, when Rome in Cæsar fell.
In Iron Clouds conceal'd the Publick Light:630
And Impious Mortals fear'd Eternal Night.
Nor was the Fact foretold by him alone:
Nature her self stood forth, and seconded the Sun.
Earth, Air, and Seas, with Prodigies were sign'd,
And Birds obscene, and howling Dogs divin'd.635
What Rocks did Ætna's bellowing Mouth expire
From her torn Entrails! and what Floods of Fire!
What Clanks were heard, in German Skies afar,
Of Arms and Armies, rushing to the War!

Illustration of Georgic 1, line 625, "And who dares give the Source of Light the Lye?"
Illustration of Georgic 1, line 625, "And who dares give the Source of Light the Lye?"

Dire Earthquakes rent the solid Alps below,640
And from their Summets shook th' Eternal Snow.
Pale Specters in the close of Night were seen;
And Voices heard of more than Mortal Men.
In silent Groves, dumb Sheep and Oxen spoke,
And Streams ran backward, and their Beds forsook:645
The yawning Earth disclos'd th' Abyss of Hell:
The weeping Statues did the Wars foretel;
And Holy Sweat from Brazen Idols fell.
Then rising in his Might, the King of Floods,
Rusht thro' the Forests, tore the lofty Woods;650
And rolling onward, with a sweepy Sway,
Bore Houses, Herds, and lab'ring Hinds away.
Blood sprang from Wells, Wolfs howl'd in Towns by Night,
And boding Victims did the Priests affright.
Such Peals of Thunder never pour'd from high,655
Nor forky Light'nings flash'd from such a sullen a Sky.
Red Meteors ran a-cross th' Etherial Space;
Stars disappear'd, and Comets took their place.
For this, th' Emathian Plains once more were strow'd
With Roman Bodies, and just Heav'n thought good
To fatten twice those Fields with Roman Blood.661
Then, after length of Time, the lab'ring Swains,
Who turn the Turfs of those unhappy Plains,
Shall rusty Piles from the plough'd Furrows take,
And over empty Helmets pass the Rake.665
Amaz'd at Antick Titles on the Stones,
And mighty Relicks of Gygantick Bones.

Ye home-born Deities, of Mortal Birth!
Thou Father Romulus, and Mother Earth,
Goddess unmov'd! whose Guardian Arms extend670
O'er Thuscan Tiber's Course, and Roman Tow'rs defend;
With youthful Cæsar your joint Pow'rs ingage,
Nor hinder him to save the sinking Age.
O! let the Blood, already spilt, atone
For the past Crimes of curst Laomedon!675
Heav'n wants thee there, and long the Gods, we know,
Have grudg'd thee, Cæsar, to the World below.
Where Fraud and Rapine, Right and Wrong confound;
Where impious Arms from ev'ry part resound,
And monstrous Crimes in ev'ry Shape are crown'd.680
The peaceful Peasant to the Wars is prest;
The Fields lye fallow in inglorious Rest.
The Plain no Pasture to the Flock affords,
The crooked Scythes are streightned into Swords:
And there Euphrates her soft Off-spring Arms,685
And here the Rhine rebellows with Alarms:
The neighb'ring Cities range on sev'ral sides,
Perfidious Mars long plighted Leagues divides,
And o'er the wasted World in Triumph rides.
So four fierce Coursers starting to the Race,690
Scow'r thro' the Plain, and lengthen ev'ry Pace:
Nor Reigns, nor Curbs, nor threat'ning Cries they fear,
But force along the trembling Charioteer.