GEORGICON - I.1-42THE INVOCATION
Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro)trans. A. S. Kline
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.
Iíll begin to sing of what keeps the wheat fields happy,
under what stars to plough the earth, and fasten vines to elms,
what care the oxen need, what tending cattle require,
Maecenas, and how much skillís required for the thrifty bees.
O you brightest lights of the universe
that lead the passing year through the skies,
Bacchus and kindly Ceres, since by your gifts
fat wheat ears replaced Chaonian acorns,
and mixed Achelousís water with newly-discovered wine,
and you, Fauns, the farmerís local gods,
(come dance, together, Fauns and Dryad girls!)
your gifts I sing. And you, O Neptune, for whom
earth at the blow of your mighty trident first produced
whinnying horses: and you Aristaeus, planter of the groves,
for whom three hundred snowy cattle graze Ceaís rich thickets:
you, O Tegean Pan, if you care for your own Maenalus,
leaving your native Lycaean woods and glades, guardian
of the flocks, favour us: and Minerva bringer of the olive:
and you Triptolemus, boy who revealed the curving plough,
and Silvanus carrying a tender cypress by the roots:
and all you gods and goddesses, whose care guards our fields,
you who nurture the fresh fruits of the unsown earth,
and you who send plentiful showers down for the crops:
and you too, Caesar, who, in time, will live among a company
of the gods, which oneís unknown, whether you choose
to watch over cities and lands, and the vast world
accepts you as bringer of fruits, and lord of the seasons,
crowning your brows with your mother Venusís myrtle,
or whether you come as god of the vast sea, and sailors
worship your powers, while furthest Thule serves you,
and Tethys with all her waves wins you as son-in-law,
or whether you add yourself to the slow months as a Sign,
where a space opens between Virgo and the grasping claws,
(even now fiery Scorpio draws in his pincers for you,
and leaves you more than your fair share of heaven):
whatever youíll be (since Tartarus has no hope of you as ruler,
and may such fatal desire for power never touch you,
though Greece might marvel at the Elysian fields,
and Proserpine, re-won, might not care to follow her mother),
grant me a fair course, and agree to my bold beginning,
pitying the country folk, with me, who are ignorant of the way:
prepare to start your duties, and even now, hear our prayer.

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. Copyright © A. S. Kline 2003


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