Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro) trans. Tim Chilcott

Tityre, te patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi
silvestrem tenui Musam meditaris avena;
nos patriae fines et dulcia linquimus arva:
nos patriam fugimus; tu, Tityre, lentus in umbra
formosam resonare doces Amaryllida silvas.

O Meliboee, deus nobis haec otia fecit:
namque erit ille mihi semper deus; illius aram
saepe tener nostris ab ovilibus imbuet agnus.
Ille meas errare boves, ut cernis, et ipsum
ludere, quae vellem, calamo permisit agresti.

Non equidem invideo; miror magis: undique totis
usque adeo turbatur agris. En, ipse capellas
protinus aeger ago; hanc etiam vix, Tityre, duco:
hic inter densas corylos modo namque gemellos,
spem gregis, ah, silice in nuda conixa reliquit.
Saepe malum hoc nobis, si mens non laeva fuisset,
de caelo tactas memini praedicere quercus: -
Sed tamen, iste deus qui sit, da, Tityre, nobis.

Urbem, quam dicunt Romam, Meliboee, putavi
stultus ego huic nostrae similem, quo saepe solemus
pastores ouvium teneros depellere fetus:
sic canibus catulos similis, sic matribus haedos
noram, sic parvis componere magna solebam:
verum haec tantum alias inter caput extulit urbes,
quantum lenta solent inter viburna cupressi.

Equae tanta fuit Romam tibi causa videndi?

Libertas; quae sera, tamen respexit inertem,
candidior postquam tondenti barba cadebat;
respexit tamen, et longo post tempore venit,
postquam nos Amaryllis habet, Galatea reliquit:
namque, fatebor enim, dum me Galatea tenebat,
nec spes libertatis erat, nec cura peculi:
quamuis multa meis exiret victima saeptis,
pinguis et ingratae premeretur caseus urbi,
non umquam gravis aere domum mihi dextra redibat.

Mirabar, quid maesta deos, Amarylli, vocares,
cui pendere sua patereris in arbore poma:
Tityrus hinc aberat. Ipsae te, Tityre, pinus,
ipsi te fontes, ipsa haec arbusta vocabant.

Quid facerem? Neque servitio me exire licebat,
nec tam praesentis alibi cognoscere divos.
hic illum vidi iuvenem, Meliboee, quot annis
bis senos cui nostra dies altaria fumant;
hic mihi responsum primus dedit ille petenti:
'pascite, ut ante, boves, pueri, submittite tauros.'

Fortunate senex, ergo tua cura manebunt,
et tibi magna satis, quamvis lapis omnia nudus
limosoque palus obducat pascua iunco!
Non insueta grauis temptabunt pabula fetas,
nec mala vicini pecoris contagia laedent.
Fortunate senex, hic, inter flumina nota
et fontis sacros, frigus captabis opacum!
Hinc tibi, quae semper, vicino ab limite, saepes
Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti
saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro;
hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras;
nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes,
nec gemere aeria cessabit turtur ab ulmo.

Ante leves ergo pascentur in aequore cervi,
et freta destituent nudos in litore pisces,
ante peretratis amborum finibus exsul
aut Ararim Parthus bibet, aut Germania Tigrim,
quam nostro illius labatur pectore vultus.

At nos hinc alii sitientis ibimus Afros,
pars Scythiam et rapidum Cretae veniemus Oaxen,
pauperis toto divisos orbe Britannos.
En umquam patrias longo post tempore finis,
pauperis et tuguri congestum caespite culmen,
post aliquot mea regna videns, mirabor aristas?
Impius haec tam culta novalia miles habebit,
barbarus has segetes? En, quo discordia civis
produxit miseros! His nos consevimus agros!
Insere nunc, Meliboee, piros, pone ordine vitis.
Ite meae, felix quondam pecus, ite capellae.
Non ego vos posthac, viridi proiectus in antro,
dumosa pendere procul de rupe videbo;
carmina nulla canam; non, me pascente, capellae,
florentem cytisum et salices carpetis amaras.

Hic tamen haec mecum poteras requiescere noctem
fronde super viridi: sunt nobis mitia poma,
castaneae molles, et pressi copia lactis;
et iam summa procul villarum culmina fumant,
maioresque cadunt altis de montibus umbrae.

Tityrus, so there you lie beneath the spread of sheltering beech
And practice country tunes upon your shepherd's pipe.
But we must leave our native place, the fields so dear to us.
We have to flee our homes, while you there, in the cooling shade,
Teach all the woods to echo lovely Amaryllis.

Oh Meliboeus, a god has given me this peace.
And he will always be a god to me, his altar
Often stained by blood of young lambs from my fold.
He lets my cattle roam, as you can see, and lets
Me play what tunes I like upon my country flute.

I am not envious, more amazed. The countryside
Is in such turmoil everywhere. I'm sick, yet have
To drive my goats along; this one here can hardly move.
Just now, in the hazel thicket there, she dropped twin kids -
The one hope of the flock - and left them there upon bare flint.
Often enough, I know, we'd been forewarned of this
When lightning struck the oaks - had I not been so blind.
But tell me, Tityrus, who is this god of yours?

Foolishly, I used to think the city they call Rome
Was like our market-town to which we shepherds
So often used to drive along our new-weaned lambs.
As puppies are similar to full-grown dogs, or kids to goats,
I used to measure big things by the small.
But over other cities, Rome has towered up high,
As cypress trees soar way above the lowly guelder-rose.

Yet what so made you want to visit Rome?

Freedom. I had been lazy, and it beckoned to me late,
After my beard had turned still whiter for the barber's cut.
It beckoned me, and after many years it came about,
When Galatea had abandoned me and Amaryllis had my heart.
For I confess, whilst Galatea had me in her power,
There was no hope of liberty or saving money.
Though many a victim was taken from my folds,
And rich cheese for the thankless town was pressed,
My hand was never crammed with coins as I came home.

I'd wondered, Amaryllis, why you called so sadly to the gods.
For whose sake did you leave the apples hanging on the trees?
Tityrus, you had gone. The very pine-trees, Tityrus,
The very springs, the very orchards, called to you.

What could I do? Nowhere else could I escape
From slavery or find the presence of such powerful gods.
There it was I saw him, Meliboeus - the young man
For whom our altars burn twelve times a year.
There it was he first responded to my prayers.
'Graze cattle as before, my lads; and breed your bulls.'

You are a fortunate old man. This land will stay your own.
It's large enough for you, although bare rock and marshes
Swallow all your pastures with their mud and reeds.
No foreign fodder will upset your pregnant ewes,
And no disease infect them from a neighbour's flock.
You are a fortunate old man. By these familiar streams
And sacred springs, you'll find some cooling shade.
Beside this hedge that runs along your neighbour's boundary,
The Hybla bees will always feed on willow flowers
And with their humming often drowse you into sleep.
By that high crag, the pruner there will serenade the breeze,
While all the time, the pigeons from your brood will coo away
And turtledoves, in the soaring elms, will never cease to moan.

Sooner should light-footed stags graze in the sky
And ocean-tides leave fish abandoned on the shore,
Sooner should exiles cross each other's boundaries
And Germans drink the Tigris, or Parthians the Arar,
Than that his face should vanish from my mind.

Ah, but we others have to go away - to bone-dry Africa
Or Scythia and to Oaxes' chalky flood,
Or Britain, quite cut off from all the world.
After long away, will I ever see my homeland
Once again, my simple cottage with its turf-piled roof,
And gaze in wonder at my realm - some ears of corn?
Some godless soldier will possess this well-farmed land,
A foreigner these fields of corn. Look where a civil war
Has led Rome's wretched citizens; and we've sown crops for them!
So graft your pear-trees, Meliboeus, set your vines in rows.
Go on, my little goats. Once happy flock, go on.
No more will I, stretched out in some green cave,
Watch you, far off, and hanging from some thorny crag.
No longer will I sing my songs, nor shepherd you, my little goats,
To graze on bitter willow shoots and clover flower.

And yet tonight, you could here rest with me, couched
Upon green leaves. Ripe apples I can offer you,
Soft roasted chestnuts, and a wealth of cheese.
Far off, the smoke already rises from the farm-house roofs,
And longer shadows fall now from the towering hills.

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Transl. copyright © Tim Chilcott 2006

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