GEORGICON - I.1-42WHAT MAKES THE CORNFIELDS GLAD ...
Virgil (P. Vergilius Maro)trans. K. R. Mackenzie
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 makes the cornfields glad, beneath what star
To turn the soil or train the vines on elms,
The care of oxen and the shepherd's skill,
The art of keeping thrifty bees - all this,
Maecenas, is my theme. Ye heavenly orbs,
That draw the gliding year across the sky,
And Bacchus and kind Ceres, by whose grace
Dodona's acorns yielded first to grain
And Acheloüs' draughts were mixed with wine;
Ye Fauns, e'er present rustic deities,
(Come dance a measure with the woodland Nymphs) -
Yours are the gifts I sing. And Neptune too,
At whose command earth bore the neighing horse;
And thou, the spirit of the groves, for whom
A thousand snowy steers on Ceos graze;
Thyself too, Pan, the guardian of the flocks,
Come, quit Lycaeus and thy native glades,
And by the love thou hast for Maenalus
Assist my song; and thou, Minerva, come,
Inventress of the olive, and that boy
Who first taught men to use the curving plough;
Silvanus too, with thy young cypress tree;
And every god and goddess of the fields,
That nurse the tender plants unsown by man
And send the generous rain upon the crops.
And most of all, thou, Caesar, whom none knows
What heavenly company shall hereafter claim;
Whether thou choose the cities and the plains,
And all the world receive thee as the god
Of fruitful increase and the seasons' gifts,
Wreathing thy brow with Venus' myrtle crown;
Or whether thou as god of ocean come,
By sailors worshipped far as Thule's isle,
And Tethys gives her daughter for thy bride
With all her waves for dower, or whether thou
Art added to the number of the stars,
Where 'twixt the Virgin and the Scorpion lo!
A space already opens, and his claws
Draw back to leave an ampler share of sky,-
Whatever thou shalt be (let Hell not hope
For thee as king nor thou desire such rule,
Although the Greeks may praise th' Elysian fields,
And Proserpine heeds not her mother's call)
Make smooth my path and bless my bold emprise,
Pity with me the simple country folk,
And even now grow used to hear our prayers!

Click here 1 for another translation of this poem.

Transl. copyright © The Folio Society Ltd. 1969


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