Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro) trans. Peter Fallon
Quid faciat laetas segetes, quo sidere terram
uertere, Maecenas, ulmisque adiungere uitis
conueniat, quae cura boum, qui cultus habendo
sit pecori, apibus quanta experientia parcis,
hinc canere incipiam. uos, o clarissima mundi
lumina, labentem caelo quae ducitis annum;
Liber et alma Ceres, uestro si munere tellus
Chaoniam pingui glandem mutauit arista,
poculaque inuentis Acheloia miscuit uuis;
et uos, agrestum praesentia numina, Fauni
(ferte simul Faunique pedem Dryadesque puellae:
munera uestra cano); tuque o, cui prima frementem
fudit equum magno tellus percussa tridenti,
Neptune; et cultor nemorum, cui pinguia Ceae
ter centum niuei tondent dumeta iuuenci;
ipse nemus linquens patrium saltusque Lycaei
Pan, ouium custos, tua si tibi Maenala curae,
adsis, o Tegeaee, fauens, oleaeque Minerua
inuentrix, uncique puer monstrator aratri,
et teneram ab radice ferens, Siluane, cupressum:
dique deaeque omnes, studium quibus arua tueri,
quique nouas alitis non ullo semine fruges
quique satis largum caelo demittitis imbrem.

tuque adeo, quem mox quae sint habitura deorum
concilia incertum est, urbisne inuisere, Caesar,
terrarumque uelis curam, et te maximus orbis
auctorem frugum tempestatumque potentem
accipiat cingens materna tempora myrto;
an deus immensi uenias maris ac tua nautae
numina sola colant, tibi seruiat ultima Thule,
teque sibi generum Tethys emat omnibus undis;
anne nouum tardis sidus te mensibus addas,
qua locus Erigonen inter Chelasque sequentis
panditur (ipse tibi iam bracchia contrahit ardens
Scorpius et caeli iusta plus parte reliquit);
quidquid eris (nam te nec sperant Tartara regem,
nec tibi regnandi ueniat tam dira cupido,
quamuis Elysios miretur Graecia campos
nec repetita sequi curet Proserpina matrem),
da facilem cursum atque audacibus adnue coeptis,
ignarosque uiae mecum miseratus agrestis
ingredere et uotis iam nunc adsuesce uocari.
What tickles the corn to laugh in rows, and by what star
to steer the plow, and how to train the vine to elms,
good management of flocks and herds, the expertise bees need
to thrive - my lord, Maecenas, such are the makings of the song
I take upon myself to sing.
Sirs of sky,
grand marshals of the firmament,
O Liber of fertility, and Ceres, our sustaining queen,
by your kind-heartedness Earth traded acorns of Epirus
for ample ears of corn and laced spring water with new wine;
and you, O Fauns, presiding lights of farming folk
come dance, O Fauns, and maiden Dryads,
your gifts I celebrate as well); and you, Neptune, whose trident's
booming tap on rock first fanfared to bring forth a snorting horse;
and you, patron of shady woods, whose many hundred head of cattle
fatten, pristine, in the chaparral of Ceos;
and you too, Pan, abandoning your native groves and glades of Lycaeus,
caretaker of the flocks, if Maenalus means anything at all to you,
come to me, O god of Tegea, a friend and comforter; and you, Minerva,
who first discovered olives; and that youth, too, creator of the crooked
Sylvanus, too, who carries on his back a sturdy cypress, ripped up from
the roots -
a god or goddess each of you, whose care and concern is
for land, who nurtures crops not grown from seed,
and who dispatches onto plantings heavy showers from the heavens;
and I address you too, O Caesar, although none knows the gathering
of gods
in which you soon will be accommodated, or whether you would choose
to oversee the city or be in charge of countryside, nor knows if the wide
will come to honour you as begetter of the harvest or as master of the
(around your brow already a garland of your mother's myrtle),
or whether you will come as lord of endless sea, and seafarers will
worship you,
your power alone, and the ends of earth bow to you in homage,
and Tethys forfeits all her waves to have you as a son-inlaw,
or whether you will add a new star to the zodiac to quicken months
where there's a lull between Virgo and Libra which comes after it
(already ardent Scorpio contracts its claws for you
and allots to you more than your fair share of sky).
Whatever you will be (let not the nether world of Tartarus hope to
have you
as its king, nor ever such a dread ambition lord over you,
however much Greece knows the wonders of Elysian fields
and Proserpina pays her mother little heed although shy hears her
calling her),
grant me an easy course, and bless the boldness of this undertaking -
who shares my sympathy for countrymen whose lives are wanderings
in the dark -
look forward now, expert already in the ways to answer our entreaties.

Click here 3 for another translation of this poem.

Transl. copyright © Peter Fallon 2004 - publ. The Gallery Press

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