The Works of Virgil (Dryden)/Georgics (Dryden)/Book 2

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Illustration of Georgic 2, line 1, "Thus far of Tillage, and of Heav'nly Signs"
Illustration of Georgic 2, line 1, "Thus far of Tillage, and of Heav'nly Signs"

The Second Book of the



The Subject of the following Book is Planting. In handling of which Argument, the Poet shews all the different Methods of raising Trees: Describes their Variety; and gives Rules for the management of each in particular. He then points out the Soils in which the several Plants thrive best: And thence takes occasion to run out into the Praises of Italy. After which he gives some Directions for discovering the Nature of every Soil; prescribes Rules for the Dressing of Vines, Olives, &c. And concludes the Georgic with a Panegyric on a Country Life.

THus far of Tillage, and of Heav'nly Signs;
Now sing my Muse the growth of gen'rous Vines:
The shady Groves, the Woodland Progeny,
And the slow Product of Minerva's Tree.
Great Father Bacchus! to my Song repair;5
For clustring Grapes are thy peculiar Care:

For thee large Bunches load the bending Vine,
And the last Blessings of the Year are thine.
To thee his Joys the jolly Autumn owes,
When the fermenting Juice the Vat o'erflows.10
Come strip with me, my God, come drench all o'er
Thy Limbs in Must of Wine, and drink at ev'ry Pore.
Some Trees their birth to bounteous Nature owe:
For some without the pains of Planting grow.
With Osiers thus the Banks of Brooks abound, 15
Sprung from the watry Genius of the Ground:
From the same Principles grey Willows come;
Herculean Poplar, and the tender Broom.
But some from Seeds inclos'd in Earth arise:
For thus the mastful Chesnut mates the Skies.20
Hence rise the branching Beech and vocal Oke,
Where Jove of old Oraculously spoke.
Some from the Root a rising Wood disclose;
Thus Elms, and thus the salvage Cherry grows.
Thus the green Bays, that binds the Poet's Brows, 25
Shoots and is shelter'd by the Mother's Boughs.
These ways of Planting, Nature did ordain,
For Trees and Shrubs, and all the Sylvan Reign.
Others there are, by late Experience found:
Some cut the Shoots, and plant in furrow'd ground: 30
Some cover rooted Stalks in deeper Mold:
Some cloven Stakes, and (wond'rous to behold,)
Their sharpen'd ends in Earth their footing place,
And the dry Poles produce a living Race.

Some bowe their Vines, which bury'd in the Plain, 35
Their tops in distant Arches rise again.
Others no Root require, the Lab'rer cuts
Young Slips, and in the Soil securely puts.
Ev'n Stumps of Olives, bar'd of Leaves, and dead,
Revive, and oft redeem their wither'd head. 40
Tis usual now, an Inmate Graff to see,
With insolence invade a Foreign Tree:
Thus Pears and Quinces from the Crabtree come;
And thus the ruddy Cornel bears the Plum.
Then let the Learned Gard'ner mark with care 45
The Kinds of Stocks, and what those Kinds will bear:
Explore the Nature of each sev'ral Tree;
And known, improve with artful Industry:
And let no spot of idle Earth be found,
But cultivate the Genius of the Ground. 50
For open Ismarus will Bacchus please;
Taburnus loves the shade of Olive Trees.
The Virtues of the sev'ral Soils I sing,
Mecænas, now thy needful Succour bring!
O thou! the better part of my Renown, 55
Inspire thy Poet, and thy Poem crown:
Embarque with me, while I new Tracts explore,
With flying sails and breezes from the shore:
Not that my Song, in such a scanty space,
So large a Subject fully can embrace: 60
Not tho' I were supply'd with Iron Lungs,
A hundred Mouths, fill'd with as many Tongues:

But steer my Vessel with a steady hand,
And coast along the Shore in sight of Land.
Nor will I tire thy Patience with a train 65
Of Preface, or what ancient Poets feign.
The Trees, which of themselves advance in Air,
Are barren kinds, but strongly built and fair:
Because the vigour of the Native Earth
Maintains the Plant, and makes a Manly Birth. 70
Yet these, receiving Graffs of other Kind,
Or thence transplanted, change their salvage Mind:
Their Wildness lose, and quitting Nature's part,
Obey the Rules and Discipline of Art.
The same do Trees, that, sprung from barren Roots 75
In open fields, transplanted bear their Fruits.
For where they grow the Native Energy
Turns all into the Substance of the Tree,
Starves and destroys the Fruit, is only made
For brawny bulk, and for a barren shade. 80
The Plant that shoots from Seed, a sullen Tree
At leisure grows, for late Posterity;
The gen'rous flavour lost, the Fruits decay,
And salvage Grapes are made the Birds ignoble prey.
Much labour is requir'd in Trees, to tame 85
Their wild disorder, and in ranks reclaim.
Well must the ground be dig'd, and better dress'd,
New Soil to make, and meliorate the rest.
Old Stakes of Olive Trees in Plants revive;
By the same Methods Paphian Myrtles live: 90
But nobler Vines by Propagation thrive.

From Roots hard Hazles, and from Cyens rise
Tall Ash, and taller Oak that mates the Skies:
Palm, Poplar, Firr, descending from the Steep
Of Hills, to try the dangers of the Deep. 950
The thin-leav'd Arbute Hazle, graffs receives,
And Planes huge Apples bear, that bore but Leaves.
Thus Mastful Beech the bristly Chesnut bears,
And the wild Ash is white with blooming Pears.
And greedy Swine from grafted Elms are fed, 100
With falling Acorns, that on Oaks are bred.
But various are the ways to change the state
Of Plants, to Bud, to Graff, t' Inoculate.
For where the tender Rinds of Trees disclose
Their shooting Gems, a swelling Knot there grows;
Just in that space a narrow Slit we make, 106
Then other Buds from bearing Trees we take:
Inserted thus, the wounded Rind we close,
In whose moist Womb th' admitted Infant grows.
But when the smoother Bole from Knots is free, 110
We make a deep Incision in the Tree;
And in the solid Wood the Slip inclose,
The bat'ning Bastard shoots again and grows:
And in short space the laden Boughs arise,
With happy Fruit advancing to the Skies. 115
The Mother Plant admires the Leaves unknown,
Of Alien Trees, and Apples not her own.
Of vegetable Woods are various Kinds,
And the same Species are of sev'ral Minds.

Lotes, Willows, Elms, have diff'rent Forms allow'd,
So fun'ral Cypress rising like a Shrowd. 121
Fat Olive Trees of sundry Sorts appear:
Of sundry Shapes their unctuous Berries bear.
Radij long Olives, Orchit's round produce,
And bitter Pausia, pounded for the Juice. 125
Alcinous Orchard various Apples bears:
Unlike are Bergamotes and pounder Pears.
Nor our Italian Vines produce the Shape,
Or Tast, or Flavour of the Lesbian Grape.
The Thasian Vines in richer Soils abound, 130
The Mareotique grow in barren Ground.
The Psythian Grape we dry: Lagæan Juice,
Will stamm'ring Tongues, and stagg'ring Feet produce.
Rathe ripe are some, and some of later kind,
Of Golden some, and some of Purple Rind. 135
How shall I praise the Ræthean Grape divine,
Which yet contends not with Falernian Wine!
Th' Aminean many a Consulship survives,
And longer than the Lydian Vintage lives?
Or high Phanæus King of Chian growth: 140
But for large quantities, and lasting both,
The less Argitis bears the Prize away.
The Rhodian, sacred to the Solemn Day,
In second Services is pour'd to Jove;
And best accepted by the Gods above. 145
Nor must Bumastus his old Honours lose,
In length and largeness like the Dugs of Cows.

Illustration of Georgic 2, line 145, "And best accepted by the Gods above"
Illustration of Georgic 2, line 145, "And best accepted by the Gods above"

I pass the rest, whose ev'ry Race and Name,
And Kinds, are less material to my Theme.
Which who wou'd learn, as soon may tell the Sands,
Driv'n by the Western Wind on Lybian Lands.151
Or number, when the blust'ring Eurus roars,
The Billows beating on Ionian Shoars.
Nor ev'ry Plant on ev'ry Soil will grow;
The Sallow loves the watry Ground, and low.155
The Marshes, Alders; Nature seems t'ordain
The rocky Cliff for the wild Ashe's reign:
The baleful Yeugh to Northern Blasts assigns;
To Shores the Myrtles, and to Mounts the Vines.
Regard th' extremest cultivated Coast,160
From hot Arabia to the Scythian Frost:
All sort of Trees their sev'ral Countries know;
Black Ebon only will in India grow:
And od'rous Frankincense on the Sabæan Bough.
Balm slowly trickles through the bleeding Veins165
Of happy Shrubs, in Idumæan Plains.
The green Egyptian Thorn, for Med'cine good;
With Ethiops hoary Trees and woolly Wood,
Let others tell: and how the Seres spin
Their fleecy Forests in a slender Twine.170
With mighty Trunks of Trees on Indian shoars,
Whose height above the feather'd Arrow soars,
Shot from the toughest Bow; and by the Brawn
Of expert Archers, with vast Vigour drawn.

Sharp tasted Citrons Median Climes produce:175
Bitter the Rind, but gen'rous is the Juice:
A cordial Fruit, a present Antidote
Against the direful Stepdam's deadly Draught:
Who mixing wicked Weeds with Words impure,
The Fate of envy'd Orphans wou'd procure.180
Large is the Plant, and like a Laurel grows,
And did it not a diff'rent Scent disclose,
A Laurel were: the fragrant Flow'rs contemn
The stormy Winds, tenacious of their Stem.
With this the Medes, to lab'ring Age, bequeath185
New Lungs, and cure the sourness of the Breath.
But neither Median Woods, (a plenteous Land,)
Fair Ganges, Hermus rolling Golden Sand,
Nor Bactria, nor the richer Indian Fields,
Nor all the Gummy Stores Arabia yields;190
Nor any foreign Earth of greater Name,
Can with sweet Italy contend in Fame.
No Bulls, whose Nostrils breath a living Flame,
Have turn'd our Turf, no Teeth of Serpents here
Were sown, an armed Host, and Iron Crop to bear.
But fruitful Vines, and the fat Olives fraight,196
And Harvests heavy with their fruitful weight,
Adorn our Fields; and on the chearful Green,
The grazing Flocks and lowing Herds are seen.
The Warrior Horse, here bred, is taught to train,200
There flows Clitumnus thro' the flow'ry Plain;

Whose Waves, for Triumphs after prosp'rous War,
The Victim Ox, and snowy Sheep prepare.
Perpetual Spring our happy Climate sees,
Twice breed the Cattle, and twice bear the Trees;
And Summer Suns recede by slow degrees.206
Our Land is from the Land of Tygers freed,
Nor nourishes the Lyon's angry Seed;
Nor pois'nous Aconite is here produc'd,
Or grows unknown, or is, when known, refus'd. 210
Nor in so vast a length our Serpents glide,
Or rais'd on such a spiry Volume ride.
Next add our Cities of Illustrious Name,
Their costly Labour and stupend'ous Frame:
Our Forts on steepy Hills, that far below 215
See wanton Streams, in winding Valleys flow.
Our twofold Seas, that washing either side,
A rich Recruit of Foreign Stores provide.
Our spacious Lakes; thee, Larius, first; and next
Benacus, with tempest'ous Billows vext. 220
Or shall I praise thy Ports, or mention make
Of the vast Mound, that binds the Lucrine Lake.
Or the disdainful Sea, that, shut from thence,
Roars round the Structure, and invades the Fence.
There, where secure the Julian Waters glide, 225
Or where Avernus Jaws admit the Tyrrhene Tide.
Our Quarries deep in Earth, were fam'd of old,
For Veins of Silver, and for Ore of Gold.

Th' Inhabitants themselves, their Country grace;
Hence rose the Marsian and Sabellian Race: 230
Strong limb'd and stout, and to the Wars inclin'd,
And hard Ligurians, a laborious Kind.
And Volscians arm'd with Iron-headed Darts.
Besides an Off-spring of undaunted Hearts,
The Decij, Marij, great Camillus came 235
From hence, and greater Scipio's double Name:
And mighty Cæsar, whose victorious Arms,
To farthest Asia, carry fierce Alarms:
Avert unwarlike Indians from his Rome;
Triumph abroad, secure our Peace at home. 240
Hail, sweet Saturnian Soil! of fruitful Grain
Great Parent, greater of Illustrious Men.
For thee my tuneful Accents will I raise,
And treat of Arts disclos'd in Ancient Days:
Once more unlock for thee the sacred Spring, 245
And old Ascræan Verse in Roman Cities sing.
The Nature of their sev'ral Soils now see,
Their Strength, their Colour, their Fertility:
And first for Heath, and barren hilly Ground,
Where meagre Clay and flinty Stones abound; 250
Where the poor Soil all Succour seems to want,
Yet this suffices the Palladian Plant.
Undoubted Signs of such a Soil are found,
For here wild Olive-shoots o'erspread the ground,
And heaps of Berries strew the Fields around. 255

But where the Soil, with fat'ning Moisture fill'd,
Is cloath'd with Grass, and fruitful to be till'd:
Such as in chearful Vales we view from high;
Which dripping Rocks with rowling Streams supply,
And feed with Ooze; where rising Hillocks run 260
In length, and open to the Southern Sun;
Where Fern succeeds, ungrateful to the Plough,
That gentle ground to gen'rous Grapes allow.
Strong Stocks of Vines it will in time produce,
And overflow the Vats with friendly Juice. 265
Such as our Priests in golden Goblets pour
To Gods, the Givers of the chearful hour.
Then when the bloated Thuscan blows his Horn,
And reeking Entrails are in Chargers born.
If Herds or fleecy Flocks be more thy Care, 270
Or Goats that graze the Field, and burn it bare:
Then seek Tarentum's Lawns, and farthest Coast,
Or such a Field as hapless Mantua lost:
Where Silver Swans sail down the wat'ry Rode,
And graze the floating Herbage of the Flood. 275
There Crystal Streams perpetual tenour keep,
Nor Food nor Springs are wanting to thy Sheep.
For what the Day devours, the nightly Dew
Shall to the Morn in Pearly Drops renew.
Fat crumbling Earth is fitter for the Plough, 280
Putrid and loose above, and black below:
For Ploughing is an imitative Toil,
Resembling Nature in an easie Soil.

No Land for Seed like this, no Fields afford
So large an Income to the Village Lord:285
No toiling Teams from Harvest-labour come
So late at Night, so heavy laden home.
The like of Forrest Land is understood,
From whence the surly Ploughman grubs the Wood,
Which had for length of Ages idle stood.290
Then Birds forsake the Ruines of their Seat,
And flying from their Nests their Callow Young forget.
The course lean Gravel, on the Mountain sides,
Scarce dewy Bev'rage for the Bees provides:
Nor Chalk nor crumbling Stones, the food of Snakes,
That work in hollow Earth their winding Tracks.296
The Soil exhaling Clouds of subtile Dews,
Imbibing moisture which with ease she spews;
Which rusts not Iron, and whose Mold is clean,
Well cloath'd with chearful Grass, and ever green,300
Is good for Olives and aspiring Vines;
Embracing Husband Elms in am'rous twines,
Is fit for feeding Cattle, fit to sowe,
And equal to the Pasture and the Plough.
Such is the Soil of fat Campanian Fields,305
Such large increase Vesuvius yields:
And such a Country cou'd Acerra boast,
Till Clanius overflow'd th' unhappy Coast.
I teach thee next the diff'ring Soils to know;
The light for Vines, the heavyer for the Plough.310

Illustration of Georgic 2, line 310, "The light for Vines, the heavier for the Plough"
Illustration of Georgic 2, line 310, "The light for Vines, the heavier for the Plough"

Chuse first a place for such a purpose fit,
There dig the solid Earth, and sink a Pit:
Next fill the hole with its own Earth agen,
And trample with thy Feet, and tread it in:
Then if it rise not to the former height 315
Of superfice, conclude that Soil is light;
A proper Ground for Pasturage and Vines.
But if the sullen Earth, so press'd, repines
Within its native Mansion to retire,
And stays without, a heap of heavy Mire; 320
'Tis good for Arable, a Glebe that asks
Tough Teams of Oxen, and laborious Tasks.
Salt Earth and bitter are not fit to sow,
Nor will be tam'd or mended with the Plough.
Sweet Grapes degen'rate there, and Fruits declin'd 325
From their first flav'rous Taste, renounce their Kind.
This Truth by sure Experiment is try'd;
For first an Osier Colendar provide
Of Twigs thick wrought, (such toiling Peasants twine,
When thro' streight Passages they strein their Wine;)
In this close Vessel place that Earth accurs'd, 331
But fill'd brimful with wholsom Water first;
Then run it through, the Drops will rope around,
And by the bitter Taste disclose the Ground.
The fatter Earth by handling we may find, 335
With Ease distinguish'd from the meagre Kind:
Poor Soil will crumble into Dust, the Rich
Will to the Fingers cleave like clammy Pitch:

Moist Earth produces Corn and Grass, but both
Too rank and too luxuriant in their Growth. 340
Let not my Land so large a Promise boast,
Lest the lank Ears in length of Stem be lost.
The heavier Earth is by her Weight betray'd,
The lighter in the poising Hand is weigh'd:
'Tis easy to distinguish by the Sight 345
The Colour of the Soil, and black from white.
But the cold Ground is difficult to know,
Yet this the Plants that prosper there, will show;
Black Ivy, Pitch Trees, and the baleful Yeugh.
These Rules consider'd well, with early Care, 350
The Vineyard destin'd for thy Vines prepare:
But, long before the Planting, dig the Ground,
With Furrows deep that cast a rising Mound:
The Clods, expos'd to Winter Winds, will bake:
For putrid Earth will best in Vineyards take, 355
And hoary Frosts, after the painful Toil
Of delving Hinds, will rot the Mellow Soil.
Some Peasants, not t' omit the nicest Care,
Of the same Soil their Nursery prepare,
With that of their Plantation; lest the Tree 360
Translated, should not with the Soil agree.
Beside, to plant it as it was, they mark
The Heav'ns four Quarters on the tender Bark;
And to the North or South restore the Side,
Which at their Birth did Heat or Cold abide. 365

So strong is Custom; such Effects can Use
In tender Souls of pliant Plants produce.
Chuse next a Province, for thy Vineyards Reign,
On Hills above, or in the lowly Plain:
If fertile Fields or Valleys be thy Choice, 370
Plant thick, for bounteous Bacchus will rejoice
In close Plantations there: But if the Vine
On rising Ground be plac'd, or Hills supine,
Extend thy loose Battalions largely wide,
Opening thy Ranks and Files on either Side: 375
But marshall'd all in order as they Stand,
And let no Soldier straggle from his Band.
As Legions in the Field their Front display,
To try the Fortune of some doubtful Day,
And move to meet their Foes with sober Pace, 380
Strict to their Figure, tho' in wider Space;
Before the Battel joins, while from afar
The Field yet glitters with the Pomp of War,
And equal Mars, like an impartial Lord,
Leaves all to Fortune, and the dint of Sword; 385
So let thy Vines in Intervals be set,
But not their Rural Discipline forget:
Indulge their Width, and add a roomy Space,
That their extreamest Lines may scarce embrace:
Nor this alone t'indulge a vain Delight, 390
And make a pleasing Prospect for the Sight:
But, for the Ground it self this only Way,
Can equal Vigour to the Plants convey;
Which crowded, want the room, their Branches to display.

How deep they must be planted, woud'st thou know?
In shallow Furrows Vines securely grow.396
Not so the rest of Plants; for Jove's own Tree,
That holds the Woods in awful Sov'raignty,
Requires a depth of Lodging in the Ground;
And, next the lower Skies, a Bed profound: 400
High as his topmost Boughs to Heav'n ascend,
So low his Roots to Hell's Dominion tend.
Therefore, nor Winds, nor Winters Rage o'erthrows
His bulky Body, but unmov'd he grows.
For length of Ages lasts his happy Reign, 405
And Lives of Mortal Man contend in vain.
Full in the midst of his own Strength he stands,
Stretching his brawny Arms, and leafy Hands;
His Shade protects the Plains, his Head the Hills commands
The hurtful Hazle in thy Vineyard shun; 410
Nor plant it to receive the setting Sun:
Nor break the topmost Branches from the Tree;
Nor prune, with blunted Knife, the Progeny.
Root up wild Olives from thy labour'd Lands:
For sparkling Fire, from Hinds unwary Hands, 415
Is often scatter'd o'er their unctuous rinds,
And after spread abroad by raging Winds.
For first the smouldring Flame the Trunk receives,
Ascending thence, it crackles in the Leaves:
At length victorious to the Top aspires, 420
Involving all the Wood with smoky Fires,

But most, when driv'n by Winds, the flaming Storm,
Of the long Files destroys the beauteous Form.
In Ashes then th' unhappy Vineyard lies,
Nor will the blasted Plants from Ruin rise: 425
Nor will the wither'd Stock be green again,
But the wild Olive shoots, and shades th' ungrateful Plain.
Be not seduc'd with Wisdom's empty Shows,
To stir the peaceful Ground when Boreas blows.
When Winter Frosts constrain the Field with Cold,
The fainty Root can take no steady hold. 431
But when the Golden Spring reveals the Year,
And the white Bird returns, whom Serpents fear:
That Season deem the best to plant thy Vines.
Next that, is when Autumnal Warmth declines: 435
E'er Heat is quite decay'd, or Cold begun,
Or Capricorn admits the Winter Sun.
The Spring adorns the Woods, renews the Leaves;
The Womb of Earth the genial Seed receives.
For then Almighty Jove descends, and pours 440
Into his buxom Bride his fruitful Show'rs.
And mixing his large Limbs with hers, he feeds
Her Births with kindly Juice, and fosters teeming Seeds.
Then joyous Birds frequent the lonely Grove,
And Beasts, by Nature stung, renew their Love. 445
Then Fields the Blades of bury'd Corn disclose,
And while the balmy Western Spirit blows,
Earth to the Breath her Bosom dares expose.

With kindly Moisture then the Plants abound,
The Grass securely springs above the Ground; 450
The tender Twig shoots upward to the Skies,
And on the Faith of the new Sun relies.
The swerving Vines on the tall Elms prevail,
Unhurt by Southern Show'rs or Northern Hail.
They spread their Gems the genial Warmth to share:
And boldly trust their Buds in open Air. 456
In this soft Season (so sweet Poets sing)
The World was hatch'd by Heav'ns Imperial King:
In prime of all the Year, and Holydays of Spring.
Earth knew no Season then, but Spring alone: 460
On the moist Ground the Sun serenely shone:
Then Winter Winds their blustring Rage forbear,
And in a silent Pomp proceeds the mighty Year.
Sheep soon were sent to people flow'ry Fields,
And salvage Beasts were banish'd into Wilds. 465
Then Heav'n was lighted up with Stars; and Man,
A hard relentless Race, from Stones began.
Nor cou'd the tender, new Creation, bear
Th' excessive Heats or Coldness of the Year:
But chill'd by Winter, or by Summer fir'd, 470
The middle Temper of the Spring requir'd.
When Infant Nature was with Quiet crown'd,
And Heav'ns Indulgence brooded on the Ground.
For what remains, in depth of Earth secure
Thy cover'd Plants, and dung with hot Manure; 475

And Shells and Gravel in the Ground inclose;
For thro' their hollow Chinks the Water flows:
Which, thus imbib'd, returns in misty Dews,
And steeming up, the rising Plant renews.
Some Husbandmen, of late, have found the Way,
A hilly Heap of Stones above to lay, 481
And press the Plants with Sherds of Potters Clay.
This Fence against immod'rate Rain they found:
Or when the Dog-star cleaves the thirsty Ground.
Be mindful when thou hast intomb'd the Shoot, 485
With Store of Earth around to feed the Root;
With Iron Teeth of Rakes and Prongs, to move
The crusted Earth, and loosen it above.
Then exercise thy sturdy Steers to plough
Betwixt thy Vines, and teach thy feeble Row 490
To mount on Reeds, and Wands, and, upward led,
On Ashen Poles to raise their forky Head.
On these new Crutches let them learn to walk,
Till swerving upwards, with a stronger Stalk,
They brave the Winds, and, clinging to their Guide,
On tops of Elms at length triumphant ride. 496
But in their tender Nonage, while they spread
Their Springing Leafs, and lift their Infant Head,
And upward while they shoot in open Air,
Indulge their Child-hood, and the Nurseling spare. 500
Nor exercise thy Rage on new-born Life,
But let thy Hand supply the Pruning-knife;

And crop luxuriant Straglers, nor be loath
To strip the Branches of their leafy Growth:
But when the rooted Vines, with steady Hold, 505
Can clasp their Elms, then Husbandman be bold
To lop the disobedient Boughs, that stray'd
Beyond their Ranks: let crooked Steel invade
The lawless Troops, which Discipline disclaim,
And their superfluous Growth with Rigour tame. 510
Next, fenc'd with Hedges and deep Ditches round,
Exclude th' incroaching Cattle from thy Ground,
While yet the tender Gems but just appear,
Unable to sustain th' uncertain Year;
Whose Leaves are not alone foul Winter's Prey, 515
But oft by Summer Suns are scorch'd away;
And worse than both, become th' unworthy Browze
Of Buffal'os, salt Goats, and hungry Cows.
For not December's Frost that burns the Boughs,
Nor Dog-days parching Heat that splits the Rocks,
Are half so harmful as the greedy Flocks: 521
Their venom'd Bite, and Scars indented on the Stocks.
For this the Malefactor Goat was laid
On Bacchus's Altar, and his forfeit paid.
At Athens thus old Comedy began, 525
When round the Streets the reeling Actors ran;
In Country Villages, and crossing ways,
Contending for the Prizes of their Plays:
And glad, with Bacchus, on the grassie soil,
Leapt o'er the Skins of Goats besmear'd with Oil. 530

Illustration of Georgic 2, line 530, "Leapt o'er the Skins of Goats besmear'd with Oil"
Illustration of Georgic 2, line 530, "Leapt o'er the Skins of Goats besmear'd with Oil"

Thus Roman Youth deriv'd from ruin'd Troy,
In rude Saturnian Rhymes express their Joy:
With Taunts, and Laughter loud, their Audience please,
Deform'd with Vizards, cut from Barks of Trees:
In jolly Hymns they praise the God of Wine, 535
Whose Earthen Images adorn the Pine;
And there are hung on high, in honour of the Vine:
A madness so devout the Vineyards fills.
In hollow Valleys and on rising Hills;
On what e'er side he turns his honest face, 540
And dances in the Wind, those Fields are in his grace.
To Bacchus therefore let us tune our Lays,
And in our Mother Tongue resound his Praise.
Thin Cakes in Chargers, and a Guilty Goat,
Dragg'd by the Horns, be to his Altars brought; 545
Whose offer'd Entrails shall his Crime reproach,
And drip their Fatness from the Hazle Broach.
To dress thy Vines new labour is requir'd,
Nor must the painful Husbandman be tir'd:
For thrice, at least, in Compass of the Year, 550
Thy Vineyard must employ the sturdy Steer,
To turn the Glebe; besides thy daily pain
To break the Clods, and make the Surface plain:
T'unload the Branches or the Leaves to thin,
That suck the Vital Moisture of the Vine. 555
Thus in a Circle runs the Peasant's Pain,
And the Year rowls within it self again.

Ev'n in the lowest Months, when Storms have shed
From Vines the hairy Honours of their Head;
Not then the drudging Hind his Labour ends; 560
But to the coming Year his Care extends:
Ev'n then the naked Vine he persecutes;
His Pruning Knife at once Reforms and Cuts.
Be first to dig the Ground, be first to burn
The Branches lopt, and first the Props return 565
Into thy House, that bore the burden'd Vines;
But last to reap the Vintage of thy Wines.
Twice in the Year luxuriant Leaves o'ershade
The incumber'd Vine; rough Brambles twice invade:
Hard Labour both! commend the large excess 570
Of spacious Vineyards; cultivate the less.
Besides, in Woods the Shrubs of prickly Thorn,
Sallows and Reeds, on Banks of Rivers born,
Remain to cut; for Vineyards useful found,
To stay thy Vines, and fence thy fruitful Ground. 575
Nor when thy tender Trees at length are bound;
When peaceful Vines from Pruning Hooks are free,
When Husbands have survey'd the last degree,
And utmost Files of Plants, and order'd ev'ry Tree;
Ev'n when they sing at ease in full Content, 580
Insulting o'er the Toils they underwent;
Yet still they find a future Task remain;
To turn the Soil, and break the Clods again:
And after all, their Joys are unsincere,
While falling Rains on ripening Grapes they fear. 585

Quite opposite to these are Olives found,
No dressing they require, and dread no wound;
Nor Rakes nor Harrows need, but fix'd below,
Rejoyce in open Air, and unconcerndly grow.
The Soil it self due Nourishment supplies: 590
Plough but the Furrows, and the Fruits arise:
Content with small Endeavours, 'till they spring.
Soft Peace they figure, and sweet Plenty bring:
Then Olives plant, and Hymns to Pallas sing.
Thus Apple Trees, whose Trunks are strong to bear
Their spreading Boughs, exert themselves in Air:596
Want no supply, but stand secure alone,
Not trusting foreign Forces, but their own:
'Till with the ruddy freight the bending Branches groan.
Thus Trees of Nature, and each common Bush, 600
Uncultivated thrive, and with red Berries blush.
Vile Shrubs are shorn for Browze: the tow'ring hight
Of unctuous Trees, are Torches for the Night.
And shall we doubt, (indulging easie Sloath,)
To sow, to set, and to reform their growth? 605
To leave the lofty Plants; the lowly kind,
Are for the Shepherd, or the Sheep design'd.
Ev'n humble Broom and Osiers have their use,
And Shade for Sleep, and Food for Flocks produce;
Hedges for Corn, and Honey for the Bees: 610
Besides the pleasing Prospect of the Trees.
How goodly looks Cytorus, ever green
With Boxen Groves, with what delight are seen

Narycian Woods of Pitch, whose gloomy shade,
Seems for retreat of thoughtful Muses made! 615
But much more pleasing are those Fields to see,
That need not Ploughs, nor Human Industry.
Ev'n cold Caucasean Rocks with Trees are spread,
And wear green Forests on their hilly Head.
Tho' bending from the blast of Eastern Storms, 620
Tho' shent their Leaves, and shatter'd are their Arms;
Yet Heav'n their various Plants for use designs:
For Houses Cedars, and for Shipping Pines.
Cypress provides for Spokes, and Wheels of Wains:
And all for Keels of Ships, that scour the watry Plains.
Willows in Twigs are fruitful, Elms in Leaves, 626
The War, from stubborn Myrtle Shafts receives:
From Cornels Jav'lins, and the tougher Yeugh
Receives the bending Figure of a Bow.
Nor Box, nor Limes, without their use are made,
Smooth-grain'd, and proper for the Turner's Trade:
Which curious Hands may kerve, and Steel with Ease invade.
Light Alder stems the Po's impetuous Tide,
And Bees in hollow Oaks their Hony hide.
Now ballance, with these Gifts, the fumy Joys 635
Of Wine, attended with eternal Noise.
Wine urg'd to lawless Lust the Centaurs Train,
Thro' Wine they quarrell'd, and thro' Wine were slain.
Oh happy, if he knew his happy State!
The Swain, who, free from Business and Debate; 640

Receives his easy Food from Nature's Hand,
And just Returns of cultivated Land!
No Palace, with a lofty Gate, he wants,
T' admit the Tydes of early Visitants.
With eager Eyes devouring, as they pass, 645
The breathing Figures of Corinthian Brass.
No Statues threaten, from high Pedestals;
No Persian Arras hides his homely Walls,
With Antick Vests; which thro' their shady fold,
Betray the Streaks of ill dissembl'd Gold. 650
He boasts no Wool, whose native white is dy'd
With Purple Poyson of Assyrian Pride.
No costly Drugs of Araby defile,
With foreign Scents, the Sweetness of his Oyl.
But easie Quiet, a secure Retreat, 655
A harmless Life that knows not how to cheat,
With homebred Plenty the rich Owner bless,
And rural Pleasures crown his Happiness.
Unvex'd with Quarrels, undisturb'd with Noise,
The Country King his peaceful Realm enjoys: 660
Cool Grots, and living Lakes, the Flow'ry Pride
Of Meads, and Streams that thro' the Valley glide;
And shady Groves that easie Sleep invite,
And after toilsome Days, a sweet repose at Night.
Wild Beasts of Nature in his Woods abound; 665
And Youth, of Labour patient, plow the Ground,
Inur'd to Hardship, and to homely Fare.
Nor venerable Age is wanting there,

In great Examples to the Youthful Train:
Nor are the Gods ador'd with Rites prophane. 670
From hence Astrea took her Flight, and here
the Prints of her departing Steps appear.
Ye sacred Muses, with whose Beauty fir'd,
My Soul is ravish'd, and my Brain inspir'd:
Whose Priest I am, whose holy Fillets wear; 675
Wou'd you your Virgil's first Petition hear,
Give me the Ways of wandring Stars to know:
The Depths of Heav'n above, and Earth below.
Teach me the various Labours of the Moon,
And whence proceed th' Eclipses of the Sun. 680
Why flowing Tides prevail upon the Main,
And in what dark Recess they shrink again.
What shakes the solid Earth, what Cause delays
The Summer Nights, and shortens Winter Days.
But if my heavy Blood restrain the Flight 685
Of my free Soul, aspiring to the Height
Of Nature, and unclouded Fields of Light:
My next Desire is, void of Care and Strife,
To lead a soft, secure, inglorious Life.
A Country Cottage near a Crystal Flood, 690
A winding Vally, and a lofty Wood.
Some God conduct me to the sacred Shades,
Where Bacchanals are sung by Spartan Maids.
Or lift me high to Hemus hilly Crown;
Or in the Plains of Tempe lay me down: 695

Or lead me to some solitary Place,
And cover my Retreat from Human Race.
Happy the Man, who, studying Nature's Laws,
Thro' known Effects can trace the secret Cause.
His Mind possessing, in a quiet state, 700
Fearless of Fortune, and resign'd to Fate.
And happy too is he, who decks the Bow'rs
Of Sylvans, and adores the Rural Pow'rs:
Whose Mind, unmov'd, the Bribes of Courts can see;
Their glitt'ring Baits, and Purple Slavery. 705
Nor hopes the People's Praise, nor fears their Frown,
Nor, when contending Kindred tear the Crown,
Will set up one, or pull another down.
Without Concern he hears, but hears from far,
Of Tumults and Descents, and distant War: 710
Nor with a Superstitious Fear is aw'd,
For what befals at home, or what abroad.
Nor envies he the Rich their heapy Store,
Nor with a helpless Hand condoles the Poor.
He feeds on Fruits, which, of their own accord, 715
The willing Ground, and laden Trees afford.
From his lov'd Home no Lucre him can draw;
The Senates mad Decrees he never saw;
Nor heard, at bawling Bars, corrupted Law.
Some to the Seas, and some to Camps resort, 720
And some with Impudence invade the Court.
In foreign Countries others seek Renown,
With Wars and Taxes others waste their own.

And Houses burn, and houshold Gods deface,
To drink in Bowls which glitt'ring Gems enchase: 725
To loll on Couches, rich with Cytron Steds,
And lay their guilty Limbs in Tyrian Beds.
This Wretch in Earth intombs his Golden Ore,
Hov'ring and brooding on his bury'd Store.
Some Patriot Fools to pop'lar Praise aspire, 730
By Publick Speeches, which worse Fools admire.
While from both Benches, with redoubl'd Sounds,
Th' Applause of Lords and Commoners abounds.
Some through Ambition, or thro' Thirst of Gold;
Have slain their Brothers, or their Country sold: 735
And leaving their sweet Homes, in Exile run
To Lands that lye beneath another Sun.
The Peasant, innocent of all these Ills,
With crooked Ploughs the fertile Fallows tills;
And the round Year with daily Labour fills. 740
From hence the Country Markets are supply'd:
Enough remains for houshold Charge beside;
His Wife, and tender Children to sustain,
And gratefully to feed his dumb deserving Train.
Nor cease his Labours, till the Yellow Field 745
A full return of bearded Harvest yield:
A Crop so plenteous, as the Land to load,
O'ercome the crowded Barns, and lodge on Ricks abroad.
Thus ev'ry sev'ral Season is employ'd:
Some spent in Toyl, and some in Ease enjoy'd. 750

Illustration of Georgic 2, line 760, "His little Children climbing for a Kiss"
Illustration of Georgic 2, line 760, "His little Children climbing for a Kiss"

The yeaning Ewes prevent the springing Year;
The laded Boughs their Fruits in Autumn bear,
Tis then the Vine her liquid Harvest yields,
Bak'd in the Sun-shine of ascending Fields.
The Winter comes, and then the falling Mast,755
For greedy Swine, provides a full repast.
Then Olives, ground in Mills, their fatness boast,
And Winter Fruits are mellow'd by the Frost.
His Cares are eas'd with Intervals of bliss,
His little Children climbing for a Kiss,760
Welcome their Father's late return at Night;
His faithful Bed is crown'd with chast delight.
His Kine with swelling Udders ready stand,
And, lowing for the Pail, invite the Milker's hand.
His wanton Kids, with budding Horns prepar'd,765
Fight harmless Battels in his homely Yard:
Himself in Rustick Pomp, on Holy-days,
To Rural Pow'rs a just Oblation pays;
And on the Green his careless Limbs displays.
The Hearth is in the midst; the Herdsmen round770
The chearful Fire, provoke his health in Goblets crown'd.
He calls on Bacchus, and propounds the Prize;
The Groom his Fellow Groom at Buts defies;
And bends his Bow, and levels with his Eyes.
Or stript for Wrestling, smears his Limbs with Oyl,
And watches with a trip his Foe to foil.776
Such was the life the frugal Sabines led;
So Remus and his Brother God were bred:

From whom th' austere Etrurian Virtue rose,
And this rude life our homely Fathers chose.780
Old Rome from such a Race deriv'd her birth,
(The Seat of Empire, and the conquer'd Earth:)
Which now on sev'n high Hills triumphant reigns,
And in that compass all the World contains.
E'er Saturn's Rebel Son usurp'd the Skies,785
When Beasts were only slain for Sacrifice:
While peaceful Crete enjoy'd her ancient Lord,
E'er sounding Hammers forg'd th' inhumane Sword:
E'er hollow Drums were beat, before the Breath
Of brazen Trumpets rung the Peals of Death;790
The good old God his Hunger did asswage
With Roots and Herbs, and gave the Golden Age.
But over labour'd with so long a Course,
Tis time to set at ease the smoaking Horse.