from the GEORGICS - Book II, ll.56-83
Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro)tr. L.P.Wilkinson
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.
The tree that rears itself from fallen seed
Grows slowly, though some day your children's children
Will find its shade rewarding, and its fruit
Degenerates, forgetting its old flavour.
Vines of this sort bear sorry clusters, fit
Only for hungry birds.
The moral is
That every tree needs labour, all must be
Forced into furrows, tamed at any cost.
But olives favour truncheons, vines come best
From layers, myrtles best from solid stems,
From suckers hardy hazels, and from seed
The mighty ash, the shady tree whose leaves
Hercules plucked to crown him, and the acorns
Of the Chaonian Father. Likewise spring
From seed the lofty palm tree and the fir
Destined to see the hazards of the deep.
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.
............
............
Grafting it is that makes the rugged arbute
Bear walnuts, barren planes rear healthy apples
And chestnuts foster beeches; thanks to this
The manna-ash can blanch with pear-blossom
And pigs munch acorns at the elm tree foot.
The arts of budding and of grafting differ.
In the former, where the buds push out of the bark
And burst their delicate sheaths, just in the knot.
A narrow slit is made. In this an eye
From an alien tree is set and taught to merge
Into the sappy rind.
In the latter, knotless trunks are trimmed, and there
Wedges are driven deep into the wood,
Then fertile slips inserted. Presently
Up shoots a lofty tree with flourishing boughs,
Marvelling at its unfamiliar leaves
And fruits unlike its own.
............
............

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.


 Trans. Copyright © L.P.Wilkinson 1982 - publ. Penguin Classics


... buy this book
next
index
translator's next