Vergil’s 7th Eclogue

Ecloga VII

By chance beneath well-known, the elm had Daphnis taken
a sit; Corydon and Thyrsus gathered their flocks into a group —
Thyrsis his sheep, Corydon the goats swelling with milk:
both in the flowering of youth, both youths from Arcadia be
matched equal, ready to recite poetry, in call & response.

A he-goat, one of the flock, wandered off to me as I was guard-
ing the soft myrtle branches from the frost; and I looked upon
Daphnis. When he saw me in return, he says: “The quicker you get
here, Meliboeus, the goat and his kid will be kept safe for you.
And if you can stop a while, take a rest beneath the shade.
They are going to come here through the cattle-fields to drink;
Here Mincius did cover the fresh green banks with a light
reed flute, so equally does a multitude echo with holy oak-tree.”
What could I do? I had not Alcippe, held not Phyllis either —
none to pen the lambs who were weaned off of milk at home:
it was a competition, Corydon along with Thyrsus, huge contest.

Yet have I come to write off my serious words as a game of
theirs: they therefore both began to have it out in trading
verses; the Muses wanted them to remember to take turns.
Corydon requites these lines, Thyrsis those ones, after another.

Adjudicating nymphs of Mt. Helicon, our dear love, either per-
mit me a song like my dear Codrus (He does make poetic verses
closest to those of Apollo.), or if we cannot all do so, right here
will the reed-flute hang off the pine, tree disclosed as sacred.

You shepherds of Arcadia, give the laureate coming into his own
one’s due, so that Codrus’s enviously wanted waist may be broken;
or if pleasing praise will have been further made, wrap your brow
in ivy wreath, so a wicked tongue trouble not a coming prophet.

Little Micon said this head of a scruffy boar be for you, my Delia,
and yours are the woodland antlers of the lively deer. If this
would have been one’s own proper, entirely — all of sleek marble —
shall you stand, wrapped about the calf with sandal laced.

It is enough that you wait, Priapus, for a bowl of milk and these
cakes the year-long through: you are guardian of the paltry garden.
Now we have already made you a marble self for a time; but if
the fodder’s going to fully fill up the herd, you must be golden.

Nereus’s daughter, Galatea — you who are sweeter than Sicilian
thyme, brighter shining than the swans, better looking than a
white lamb — when first pastured the bulls do seek once more their
pen, come here, if any care for your Corydon concerns you.

Really, I will seem to you lovelier than Persian Buttercups, more
wild than lagomilia, more low-down than beached sea-
weed, if this light is still not more enduring for me than a year.
Come home, cows who’ve grazed, come, if you be not shameless.

Mossy stream sources and grass rather softer than slumber,
and the occasional shade of a green tree touch you: do watch
out for your flock during the summer solstice; now is the hot
season coming, now buds in the pliant palm grow to swelling.

Here are the rich hearth and resinous torches, here the great big
flame forever, and doors with their continual soot of blackness;
here we are as concerned about the chills of the South wind as
a wolf cares for the flock’s tally, or roaring streams to the shore.

The juniper trees stand tall too, and the chestnut foliage; the
apples lie strewn about the place beneath their tree; everything
is pleasing as laugher now: but if fine-looking Alexis goes off,
away from these mountains, you’d also see the streams dry.

The countryside’s parched; the grass is thirsty, dying for the
weather’s fault; Bacchus envies leafy vine shadows upon hills.
At the arrival of my girl Phyllis, all the wood green will be:
& Juppiter is going to descend joyously in a shower of rain.

The poplar of Hercules, Bacchus’s vine, the myrtle of shapely
Venus, his own laurel tree — they’re most welcome to Phoebus;
Phyllis is in love with the hazel: while she adores the trees,
neither the myrtle nor Apollo’s bay leaf will beat out hazels.

The ash is prettiest in the forest, pine loveliest in the gardens,
poplar tree finest among streams, fir fairest on high mountains:
but if you come back fairly often to see me, beautiful Lycida,
let the ash-tree yield to you in the woods, the pine in the gardens.

These, the things I remember, and that Thyrsis, the loser, in vain
did compete: from that point on, Corydon is the Corydon for us!


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