Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro)trans. A. S. Kline

Sicelides Musae, paulo maiora canamus!
non omnes arbusta iuvant humilesque myricae;
si canimus silvas, silvae sint consule dignae.

Ultima Cumaei venit iam carminis aetas;
magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo.
iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna;
iam nova progenies caelo demittitur alto.
tu modo nascenti puero, quo ferrea primum
desinet ac toto surget gens aurea mundo,
casta fave Lucina: tuus iam regnat Apollo.
teque adeo decus hoc aevi, te consule, inibit,
Pollio, et incipient magni procedere menses;
te duce, si qua manent sceleris vestigia nostri,
inrita perpetua solvent formidine terras.
ille deum vitam accipiet divisque videbit
permixtos heroas, et ipse videbitur illis,
pacatumque reget patriis virtutibus orbem.

At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu
errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus
mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.
ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellae
ubera, nec magnos metuent armenta leones.
ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.
occidet et serpens, et fallax herba veneni
occidet; Assyriam vulgo nascetur amomum.
at simul heroum laudes et facta parentis
iam legere et quae sit poteris cogniscere virtus,
molli paulatim flavescet campus arista,
incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva,
et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella.
pauca tamen suberunt priscae vestigia fraudis,
quae temptare Thetim ratibus, quae cingere muris
alter erit tum Tiphys, et altera quae vehat Argo
delectos heroas; erunt etiam altera bella,
atque iterum ad Troiam magnus mittetur Achilles.
hinc, ubi iam firmata virum te fecerit aetas,
cedet et ipse mari vector, nec nautica pinus
mutabit merces: omnis feret omnia tellus.
non rastros patietur humus, non vinea falcem;
robustus quoque iam tauris iuga solvet arator;
nec varios discet mentiri lana colores,
ipse sed in pratis aries iam suave rubenti
murice, iam croceo mutabit vellera luto;
sponte sua sandyx pascentes vestiet agnos.

'Talia saecla,' suis dixerunt, 'currite', fusis
concordes stabili fatorum numine Parcae.
adgredere o magnos - aderit iam tempus - honores,
cara deum suboles, magnum Iovis incrementum.
aspice convexo nutantem pondere mundum,
terrasque tractusque maris caelumque profundum;
aspice, venturo laetantur ut omnia saeclo.
o mihi tam longae maneat pars ultima vitae,
non me carminibus vincat nec Thracius Orpheus,
nec Linus, huic mater quamvis atque huic pater adsit,
Orphei Calliopea, Lino formosus Apollo.
Pan etiam, Arcadia mecum si iudice certet,
Pan etiam Arcadia dicat se iudice victum.

Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem
matri longa decem tulerunt fastidia menses)
incipe, parve puer: qui non risere parenti,
nec deus hunc mensa, dea nec dignata cubili est.

Muses of Sicily, let me sing a little more grandly.
Orchards and humble tamarisks donít please everyone:
if I sing of the woods, let the woods be fit for a Consul.

Now the last age of the Cumaean prophecy begins:
the great roll-call of the centuries is born anew:
now Virgin Justice returns, and Saturnís reign:
now a new race descends from the heavens above.
Only favour the child whoís born, pure Lucina, under whom
the first race of iron shall end, and a golden race
rise up throughout the world: now your Apollo reigns.
For, Pollio, in your consulship, this noble age begins,
and the noble months begin their advance:
any traces of our evils that remain will be cancelled,
while you lead, and leave the earth free from perpetual fear.
He will take on divine life, and he will see gods
mingled with heroes, and be seen by them,
and rule a peaceful world with his fatherís powers.

And for you, boy, the uncultivated earth will pour out
her first little gifts, straggling ivy and cyclamen everywhere
and the bean flower with the smiling acanthus.
The goats will come home themselves, their udders swollen
with milk, and the cattle will have no fear of fierce lions:
Your cradle itself will pour out delightful flowers:
And the snakes will die, and deceitful poisonous herbs
will wither: Assyrian spice plants will spring up everywhere.
And you will read both of heroic glories, and your fatherís deeds,
and will soon know what virtue can be.
The plain will slowly turn golden with tender wheat,
and the ripe clusters hang on the wild briar,
and the tough oak drip with dew-wet honey.
Some small traces of ancient error will lurk,
that will command men to take to the sea in ships,
encircle towns with walls, plough the earth with furrows.
Another Argo will arise to carry chosen heroes, a second
Tiphys as helmsman: there will be another War,
and great Achilles will be sent once more to Troy.
Then when the strength of age has made you a man,
the merchant himself will quit the sea, nor will the pine ship
trade its goods: every land will produce everything.
The soil will not feel the hoe: nor the vine the pruning hook:
the strong ploughman too will free his oxen from the yoke:
wool will no longer be taught to counterfeit varied colours,
the ram in the meadow will change his fleece of himself,
now to a sweet blushing purple, now to a saffron yellow:
scarlet will clothe the browsing lambs of its own accord.

Let such ages roll oní the Fates said, in harmony,
to the spindle, with the power of inexorable destiny.
O dear child of the gods, take up your high honours
(the time is near), great son of Jupiter!
See the world, with its weighty dome, bowing,
earth and wide sea and deep heavens:
see how everything delights in the future age!
O let the last days of a long life remain to me,
and the inspiration to tell how great your deeds will be:
Thracian Orpheus and Linus will not overcome me in song,
though his mother helps the one, his father the other,
Calliope Orpheus, and lovely Apollo Linus.
Even Pan if he competed with me, with Arcady as Judge,
even Pan, with Arcady as judge, would account himself beaten.

Little child, begin to recognise your mother with a smile:
ten months have brought a motherís long labour.
Little child, begin: he on whom his parents do not smile
no god honours at his banquets, no goddess in her bed.

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2003

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