Tityrus, you recline beneath a screen / of spreading beech and dwell upon the woodland / muse with slender reed
Tityrus, you recline beneath a screen
of spreading beech and dwell upon the woodland
muse with slender reed, while we are forced
to leave our home, its borders and sweet fields.
We flee our homeland: you, Tityrus, in shade at ease,
are teaching woods to sound beautiful Amaryllis.
A god made us these pleasures, O Meliboeus,
and he will always be divine to me;
a tender lamb of mine will often wet
his altar. He allowed my cows to roam,
as you can see, and I myself to play
whatever is my will on rustic pipes.
I bear no grudge, but marvel: such great strife
there is on every side, in every field.
I drive my goats on sickened: look, Tityrus,
this one I can barely lead—for here,
just now, among thick hazels, she gives birth
to twins, hope of the flock, alas!, on naked
flint. I would recall this often, if
my mind had not been dulled, this evil was
foretold by oak trees touched by heaven. Still,
tell me, Tityrus—who is this your god?
The city, Meliboeus, that they call Rome
stupidly I thought resembled ours,
the place we shepherds drive our tender lambs.
I knew that puppies were like dogs and kids
their dams—thus I compared the great and small.
But Rome has raised her head midst other cities,
high as cypresses midst bending osiers.
What was the cause for your first seeing Rome?
Freedom, though late, beheld my joyless form
once white my beard began to fall beneath
my blade, but saw me ne’ertheless and came
long past her time, when Amaryllis had me
and Galatea’d left. Confess I must—
while Galatea held my soul I had
no hope for freedom and no care for thrift.
Though many victims left my stalls, and much
rich cheese was pressed for an ungrateful urbs,
my hand did not come home weighed down with bronze.
I wondered, Amaryllis, why you called
the gods so sad, and let those apples hang
abandoned in their tree: you were forsaken
too. The pines themselves, Tityrus, these
the very springs, your trees all called you home.
What could I do? I could no more evade
my bonds than find such kindly gods elsewhere.
I saw that youth here, Meliboeus, he
for whom our altars smoke now twice six days
a year. Here first he gave an answer: ‘Feed
your cattle as before, and rear your bulls.’
You lucky man—so these will stay your fields,
for you enough, though barren stone draws over all
and muddy swamp paints rushes on the pastures.
No foreign grass will test your pregnant ewes,
no bad contagions strike from neighbouring flocks.
O happy man! Here among known rivers,
sacred springs, you will court the shady cool.
From here, as ever, on your neighbour’s hedge
the willows fed on by Hyblaean bees
will with their gentle whisper soothe you off
to sleep; while there, beneath the towering crag,
the gardener on the breeze will sing—your pets,
the strident pigeons, airy turtledoves,
will not cease to wail atop the elm.
And gentle deer will graze in air, and straits
will forsake fish naked on the shore, or both
will cross the other’s borders, exiled Parthia
will drink the Arar, Germany the Tigris,
before that young god’s face slips from my chest.
While we are forced to go from here—some off
to thirsty Africa, a part to Scyths,
and some will reach Oaxes, wrenching chalk,
and Britons wholly sundered from the world.
Ah, will I ever see again, years hence,
my country’s bounds, a little cottage roofed
with heaps of sod, and later, gazing on
my kingdoms, marvel at some ears of corn?
Will some godless soldier tend these fields,
barbarians these crops? Behold how strife
produces wretched citizens: we sowed
our seeds for them. Now, Meliboeus, graft
your pears and plant your vines in rows. Away,
once blessed flock, off goats. I can no more
recline in leafy grottoes as you hang
from thorny distant crags. I will sing
no songs; no longer will I tend you, goats,
as you pluck bitter willow, flowering clover.
Yet here with me tonight you rested on
green herbs—we have ripe apples, chestnuts soft
and much pressed milk. And even now, far off,
the highest roofs of distant houses smoke,
and greater shadows fall from mountain heights.