from the GEORGICS - Book II, ll.56-83 INDEED, THAT SAID, THE TREE ...
Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro) tr. Peter Fallon

Iam quae seminibus iactis se sustulit arbos
tarda venit seris factura nepotibus umbram,
pomaque degenerant sucos oblita priores
et turpis avibus praedam fert uva racemos.
Scilicet omnibus est labor inpendendus et omnes
cogendae in sulcum ac multa mercede domandae.
Sed truncis oleae melius, propagine vites
respondent, solido Paphiae de robore myrtus;
plantis et durae coryli nascuntur et ingens
fraxinus Herculeaeque arbos umbrosa coronae
Chaoniique patris glandes, etiam ardua palma
nascitur et casus abies visura marinos.

Inseritur vero et fetu nucis arbutus horrida,
et steriles platani malos gessere valentis;
castaneae fagus, ornusque incanuit albo
flore piri glandemque sues fregere sub ulmis.
Nec modus inserere atque oculos inponere simplex.
Nam qua se medio trudunt de cortice gemmae
et tenuis rumpunt tunicas, angustus in ipso
fit nodo sinus: huc aliena ex arbore germen
includunt udoque docent inolescere libro.
Aut rursum enodes trunci resecantur et alte
finditur in solidum cuneis via, deinde feraces
plantae inmittuntur: nec longum tempus, et ingens
exsilit ad caelum ramis felicibus arbos
miraturque novas frondes et non sua poma.


Indeed, that said, the tree that rears itself from windfalls
comes on half-heartedly and, preserving nought but shade
for future generations,
its fruit will be a thing of nothing, its erstwhile flavour long
and vines brought on this way bear only sorry sets of grapes,
booty for birds.
It's a fact and true - all trees cry out for work,
you'll have to train them in trenches, however trying that
may be.
Olive trees fare best when grown on the trunk, vines by that
we've named layering, Paphian myrtles best from solid
from slips, the healthy hazel, the mighty ash,
and the poplar out of which Hercules once made himself a
just like the sacred oaks, the sky-high palm,
and the fir ahead of which lie disasters of the deep.
And, yes, through grafting, the shaggy strawberry dispenses
and barren planes have borne a healthy pick of apples,
chestnut trees have sponsored beeches, and pear blossom
manna ash, while underneath an elm sows have prospered
on a feed of acorns.
These are not straightforward acts, grafting and implanting.
You see, when buds develop inside the bark and split its skin
a narrow pocket forms right on the knot.
To this you should affix the scion,
coaxing it to meld into the sappy rind.
But knot-free trunks you cut back all the way
and into the solid bole you etch deep wedges.
Next, insert those slips that are likelier to bear - and in jig
a mighty tree is starting up to heaven, its branches revelling,
astounded by new foliage and fruits which aren't its own.


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

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