TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH VERSE.
LATE FELLOW OF CHRIST'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
AUTHOR OF "FLY LEAVES," ETC.
I had intended translating all or nearly all these Idylls into blank verse, as the natural equivalent of Greek or of Latin hexameters; only deviating into rhyme where occasion seemed to demand it. But I found that other metres had their special advantages: the fourteen-syllable line in particular has that, among others, of containing about the same number of syllables as an ordinary line of Theocritus. And there is also no doubt something gained by variety.
Several recent writers on the subject have laid down that every translation of Greek poetry, especially bucolic poetry, must be in rhyme of some sort. But they have seldom stated, and it is hard to see, why. There is no rhyme in the original, and prima facie should be none in the translation. Professor Blackie has, it is true, pointed out the "assonances, alliterations, and rhymes," which are found in more or less abundance in Ionic Greek.[A] These may of course be purely accidental, like the hexameters in Livy or the blank-verse lines in Mr. Dickens's prose: but accidental or not (it may be said) they are there, and ought to be recognised. May we not then recognise them by introducing similar assonances, etc., here and there into the English version? or by availing ourselves of what Professor Blackie again calls attention to, the "compensating powers"[B] of English? I think with him that it was hard to speak of our language as one which "transforms boos megaloio boeien into 'great ox's hide.'" Such phrases as 'The Lord is a man of war,' 'The trumpet spake not to the armed throng,' are to my ear quite as grand as Homer: and it would be equally fair to ask what we are to make of a language which transforms Milton's line into [Greek: e shalpigx ohy proshephe ton hoplismhenon hochlon.][C] But be this as it may, these phenomena are surely too rare and too arbitrary to be adequately represented by any regularly recurring rhyme: and the question remains, what is there in the unrhymed original to which rhyme answers?
To me its effect is to divide the verse into couplets, triplets, or (if the word may include them all) stanzas of some kind. Without rhyme we have no apparent means of conveying the effect of stanzas. There are of course devices such as repeating a line or part of a line at stated intervals, as is done in 'Tears, idle tears' and elsewhere: but clearly none of these would be available to a translator. Where therefore he has to express stanzas, it is easy to see that rhyme may be admissible and even necessary. Pope's couplet may (or may not) stand for elegiacs, and the In Memoriam stanza for some one of Horace's metres. Where the heroes of Virgil's Eclogues sing alternately four lines each, Gray's quatrain seems to suggest itself: and where a similar case occurs in these Idylls (as for instance in the ninth) I thought it might be met by taking whatever received English stanza was nearest the required length. Pope's couplet again may possibly best convey the pomposity of some Idylls and the point of others. And there may be divers considerations of this kind. But, speaking generally, where the translator has not to intimate stanzas—where he has on the contrary to intimate that there are none—rhyme seems at first sight an intrusion and a suggestio falsi.
No doubt (as has been observed) what 'Pastorals' we have are mostly written in what is called the heroic measure. But the reason is, I suppose, not far to seek. Dryden and Pope wrote 'heroics,' not from any sense of their fitness for bucolic poetry, but from a sense of their universal fitness: and their followers copied them. But probably no scholar would affirm that any poem, original or translated, by Pope or Dryden or any of their school, really resembles in any degree the bucolic poetry of the Greeks. Mr. Morris, whose poems appear to me to resemble it more almost than anything I have ever seen, of course writes what is technically Pope's metre, and equally of course is not of Pope's school. Whether or no Pope and Dryden intended to resemble the old bucolic poets in style is, to say the least, immaterial. If they did not, there is no reason whatever why any of us who do should adopt their metre: if they did and failed, there is every reason why we should select a different one.
Professor Conington has adduced one cogent argument against blank verse: that is, that hardly any of us can write it.[D] But if this is so—if the 'blank verse' which we write is virtually prose in disguise—the addition of rhyme would only make it rhymed prose, and we should be as far as ever from "verse really deserving the name."[E] Unless (which I can hardly imagine) the mere incident of 'terminal consonance' can constitute that verse which would not be verse independently, this argument is equally good against attempting verse of any kind: we should still be writing disguised, and had better write undisguised, prose. Prose translations are of course tenable, and are (I am told) advocated by another very eminent critic. These considerations against them occur to one: that, among the characteristics of his original which the translator is bound to preserve, one is that he wrote metrically; and that the prattle which passes muster, and sounds perhaps rather pretty than otherwise, in metre, would in plain prose be insufferable. Very likely some exceptional sort of prose may be meant, which would dispose of all such difficulties: but this would be harder for an ordinary writer to evolve out of his own brain, than to construct any species of verse for which he has at least a model and a precedent.
These remarks are made to shew that my metres were not selected, as it might appear, at hap-hazard. Metre is not so unimportant as to justify that. For the rest, I have used Briggs's edition[F] (Poetae Bucolici Graeci), and have never, that I am aware of, taken refuge in any various reading where I could make any sense at all of the text as given by him. Sometimes I have been content to put down what I felt was a wrong rendering rather than omit; but only in cases where the original was plainly corrupt, and all suggested emendations seemed to me hopelessly wide of the mark. What, for instance, may be the true meaning of [Greek: bolbhost tist kochlhiast] in the fourteenth Idyll I have no idea. It is not very important. And no doubt the sense of the last two lines of the "Death of Adonis" is very unlikely to be what I have made it. But no suggestion that I met with seemed to me satisfactory or even plausible: and in this and a few similar cases I have put down what suited the context. Occasionally also, as in the Idyll here printed last—the one lately discovered by Bergk, which I elucidated by the light of Fritzsche's conjectures—I have availed myself of an opinion which Professor Conington somewhere expresses, to the effect that, where two interpretations are tenable, it is lawful to accept for the purposes of translation the one you might reject as a commentator. [Greek: tetootaiost] has I dare say nothing whatever to do with 'quartan fever.'
On one point, rather a minor one, I have ventured to dissent from Professor Blackie and others: namely, in retaining the Greek, instead of adopting the Roman, nomenclature. Professor Blackie says[G] that there are some men by whom "it is esteemed a grave offence to call Jupiter Jupiter," which begs the question: and that Jove "is much more musical" than Zeus, which begs another. Granting (what might be questioned) that Zeus, Aphrodite, and Eros are as absolutely the same individuals with Jupiter, Venus, and Cupid as Odysseus undoubtedly is with Ulysses—still I cannot see why, in making a version of (say) Theocritus, one should not use by way of preference those names by which he invariably called them, and which are characteristic of him: why, in turning a Greek author into English, we should begin by turning all the proper names into Latin. Professor Blackie's authoritative statement[H] that "there are whole idylls in Theocritus which would sound ridiculous in any other language than that of Tam o' Shanter" I accept of course unhesitatingly, and should like to see it acted upon by himself or any competent person. But a translator is bound to interpret all as best he may: and an attempt to write Tam o' Shanter's language by one who was not Tam o' Shanter's countryman would, I fear, result in something more ridiculous still.
*** For Cometas, in Idyll V., read Comatas.
[Footnote A: BLACKIE'S Homer, Vol. I., pp. 413, 414.]
[Footnote B: Ibid., page 377, etc.]
[Footnote C: Professor Kingsley.]
[Footnote D: Preface to CONINGTON'S AEneid, page ix.]
[Footnote E: Ibid.]
[Footnote F: Since writing the above lines I have had the advantage of seeing Mr. Paley's Theocritus, which was not out when I made my version.]
[Footnote G: BLACKIE'S Homer, Preface, pp. xii., xiii.]
[Footnote H: BLACKIE'S Homer, Vol. I., page 384.]
IDYLL I. THE DEATH OF DAPHNIS
IDYLL II. THE SORCERESS
IDYLL III. THE SERENADE
IDYLL IV. THE HERDSMAN
IDYLL V. THE BATTLE OF THE BARDS
IDYLL VI. THE DRAWN BATTLE
IDYLL VII. HARVEST-HOME
IDYLL VIII. THE TRIUMPH OF DAPHNIS
IDYLL IX. PASTORALS
IDYLL X. THE TWO WORKMEN
IDYLL XI. THE GIANT'S WOOING
IDYLL XII. THE COMRADES
IDYLL XIII. HYLAS
IDYLL XIV. THE LOVE OF AESCHINES
IDYLL XV. THE FESTIVAL OF ADONIS
IDYLL XVI. THE VALUE OF SONG
IDYLL XVII. THE PRAISE OF PTOLEMY
IDYLL XVIII. THE BRIDAL OF HELEN
IDYLL XIX. LOVE STEALING HONEY
IDYLL XX. TOWN AND COUNTRY
IDYLL XXI. THE FISHERMEN
IDYLL XXII. THE SONS OF LEDA
IDYLL XXIII. LOVE AVENGED
IDYLL XXIV. THE INFANT HERACLES
IDYLL XXV. HERACLES THE LION SLAYER
IDYLL XXVI. THE BACCHANALS
IDYLL XXVII. A COUNTRYMAN'S WOOING
IDYLL XXVIII. THE DISTAFF
IDYLL XXIX. LOVES
IDYLL XXX. THE DEATH OF ADONIS
IDYLL XXXI. LOVES
FRAGMENT FROM THE "BERENICE"
EPIGRAMS AND EPITAPHS:—
I.—VI. VII.—FOR A STATUE OF AESCULAPIUS VIII.—ORTHO'S EPITAPH IX.—EPITAPH OF CLEONICUS X.—FOR A STATUE OF THE MUSES XI.—EPITAPH OF EUSTHENES XII.—FOR A TRIPOD ERECTED BY DAMOTELES TO BACCHUS XIII.—FOR A STATUE OF ANACREON XIV.—EPITAPH OF EURYMEDON XV.—ANOTHER XVI.—FOR A STATUE OF THE HEAVENLY APHRODITE XVII.—To EPICHARMUS XVIII.—EPITAPH OF CLEITA, NURSE OF MEDEIUS XIX.—TO ARCHILOCHUS XX.—UNDER A STATUE OF PEISANDER XXI.—EPITAPH OF HIPPONAX XXII.—ON HIS OWN BOOK
The Death of Daphnis.
THYRSIS. A GOATHERD.
THYRSIS. Sweet are the whispers of yon pine that makes Low music o'er the spring, and, Goatherd, sweet Thy piping; second thou to Pan alone. Is his the horned ram? then thine the goat. Is his the goat? to thee shall fall the kid; And toothsome is the flesh of unmilked kids.
GOATHERD. Shepherd, thy lay is as the noise of streams Falling and falling aye from yon tall crag. If for their meed the Muses claim the ewe, Be thine the stall-fed lamb; or if they choose The lamb, take thou the scarce less-valued ewe.
THYRSIS. Pray, by the Nymphs, pray, Goatherd, seat thee here Against this hill-slope in the tamarisk shade, And pipe me somewhat, while I guard thy goats.
GOATHERD. I durst not, Shepherd, O I durst not pipe At noontide; fearing Pan, who at that hour Rests from the toils of hunting. Harsh is he; Wrath at his nostrils aye sits sentinel. But, Thyrsis, thou canst sing of Daphnis' woes; High is thy name for woodland minstrelsy: Then rest we in the shadow of the elm Fronting Priapus and the Fountain-nymphs. There, where the oaks are and the Shepherd's seat, Sing as thou sang'st erewhile, when matched with him Of Libya, Chromis; and I'll give thee, first, To milk, ay thrice, a goat—she suckles twins, Yet ne'ertheless can fill two milkpails full;— Next, a deep drinking-cup, with sweet wax scoured, Two-handled, newly-carven, smacking yet 0' the chisel. Ivy reaches up and climbs About its lip, gilt here and there with sprays Of woodbine, that enwreathed about it flaunts Her saffron fruitage. Framed therein appears A damsel ('tis a miracle of art) In robe and snood: and suitors at her side With locks fair-flowing, on her right and left, Battle with words, that fail to reach her heart. She, laughing, glances now on this, flings now Her chance regards on that: they, all for love Wearied and eye-swoln, find their labour lost. Carven elsewhere an ancient fisher stands On the rough rocks: thereto the old man with pains Drags his great casting-net, as one that toils Full stoutly: every fibre of his frame Seems fishing; so about the gray-beard's neck (In might a youngster yet) the sinews swell. Hard by that wave-beat sire a vineyard bends Beneath its graceful load of burnished grapes; A boy sits on the rude fence watching them. Near him two foxes: down the rows of grapes One ranging steals the ripest; one assails With wiles the poor lad's scrip, to leave him soon Stranded and supperless. He plaits meanwhile With ears of corn a right fine cricket-trap, And fits it on a rush: for vines, for scrip, Little he cares, enamoured of his toy. The cup is hung all round with lissom briar, Triumph of AEolian art, a wondrous sight. It was a ferryman's of Calydon: A goat it cost me, and a great white cheese. Ne'er yet my lips came near it, virgin still It stands. And welcome to such boon art thou, If for my sake thou'lt sing that lay of lays. I jest not: up, lad, sing: no songs thou'lt own In the dim land where all things are forgot.
THYSIS [sings]. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. The voice of Thyrsis. AEtna's Thyrsis I. Where were ye, Nymphs, oh where, while Daphnis pined? In fair Peneus' or in Pindus' glens? For great Anapus' stream was not your haunt, Nor AEtna's cliff, nor Acis' sacred rill. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. O'er him the wolves, the jackals howled o'er him; The lion in the oak-copse mourned his death. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. The kine and oxen stood around his feet, The heifers and the calves wailed all for him. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. First from the mountain Hermes came, and said, "Daphnis, who frets thee? Lad, whom lov'st thou so?" Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. Came herdsmen, shepherds came, and goatherds came; All asked what ailed the lad. Priapus came And said, "Why pine, poor Daphnis? while the maid Foots it round every pool and every grove, (Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song) "O lack-love and perverse, in quest of thee; Herdsman in name, but goatherd rightlier called. With eyes that yearn the goatherd marks his kids Run riot, for he fain would frisk as they: (Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song): "With eyes that yearn dost thou too mark the laugh Of maidens, for thou may'st not share their glee." Still naught the herdsman said: he drained alone His bitter portion, till the fatal end. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. Came Aphrodite, smiles on her sweet face, False smiles, for heavy was her heart, and spake: "So, Daphnis, thou must try a fall with Love! But stalwart Love hath won the fall of thee." Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. Then "Ruthless Aphrodite," Daphnis said, "Accursed Aphrodite, foe to man! Say'st thou mine hour is come, my sun hath set? Dead as alive, shall Daphnis work Love woe." Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. "Fly to Mount Ida, where the swain (men say) And Aphrodite—to Anchises fly: There are oak-forests; here but galingale, And bees that make a music round the hives. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. "Adonis owed his bloom to tending flocks And smiting hares, and bringing wild beasts down. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. "Face once more Diomed: tell him 'I have slain The herdsman Daphnis; now I challenge thee.' Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. "Farewell, wolf, jackal, mountain-prisoned bear! Ye'll see no more by grove or glade or glen Your herdsman Daphnis! Arethuse, farewell, And the bright streams that pour down Thymbris' side. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. "I am that Daphnis, who lead here my kine, Bring here to drink my oxen and my calves. Begin, sweet Maids, begin the woodland song. "Pan, Pan, oh whether great Lyceum's crags Thou haunt'st to-day, or mightier Maenalus, Come to the Sicel isle! Abandon now Rhium and Helice, and the mountain-cairn (That e'en gods cherish) of Lycaon's son! Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song. "Come, king of song, o'er this my pipe, compact With wax and honey-breathing, arch thy lip: For surely I am torn from life by Love. Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song. "From thicket now and thorn let violets spring, Now let white lilies drape the juniper, And pines grow figs, and nature all go wrong: For Daphnis dies. Let deer pursue the hounds, And mountain-owls outsing the nightingale. Forget, sweet Maids, forget your woodland song."
So spake he, and he never spake again. Fain Aphrodite would have raised his head; But all his thread was spun. So down the stream Went Daphnis: closed the waters o'er a head Dear to the Nine, of nymphs not unbeloved. Now give me goat and cup; that I may milk The one, and pour the other to the Muse. Fare ye well, Muses, o'er and o'er farewell! I'll sing strains lovelier yet in days to be.
GOATHERD. Thyrsis, let honey and the honeycomb Fill thy sweet mouth, and figs of AEgilus: For ne'er cicala trilled so sweet a song. Here is the cup: mark, friend, how sweet it smells: The Hours, thou'lt say, have washed it in their well. Hither, Cissaetha! Thou, go milk her! Kids, Be steady, or your pranks will rouse the ram.
Where are the bay-leaves, Thestylis, and the charms? Fetch all; with fiery wool the caldron crown; Let glamour win me back my false lord's heart! Twelve days the wretch hath not come nigh to me, Nor made enquiry if I die or live, Nor clamoured (oh unkindness!) at my door. Sure his swift fancy wanders otherwhere, The slave of Aphrodite and of Love. I'll off to Timagetus' wrestling-school At dawn, that I may see him and denounce His doings; but I'll charm him now with charms. So shine out fair, O moon! To thee I sing My soft low song: to thee and Hecate The dweller in the shades, at whose approach E'en the dogs quake, as on she moves through blood And darkness and the barrows of the slain. All hail, dread Hecate: companion me Unto the end, and work me witcheries Potent as Circe or Medea wrought, Or Perimede of the golden hair! Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. First we ignite the grain. Nay, pile it on: Where are thy wits flown, timorous Thestylis? Shall I be flouted, I, by such as thou? Pile, and still say, 'This pile is of his bones.' Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. Delphis racks me: I burn him in these bays. As, flame-enkindled, they lift up their voice, Blaze once, and not a trace is left behind: So waste his flesh to powder in yon fire! Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. E'en as I melt, not uninspired, the wax, May Mindian Delphis melt this hour with love: And, swiftly as this brazen wheel whirls round, May Aphrodite whirl him to my door. Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. Next burn the husks. Hell's adamantine floor And aught that else stands firm can Artemis move. Thestylis, the hounds bay up and down the town: The goddess stands i' the crossroads: sound the gongs. Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. Hushed are the voices of the winds and seas; But O not hushed the voice of my despair. He burns my being up, who left me here No wife, no maiden, in my misery. Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. Thrice I pour out; speak thrice, sweet mistress, thus: "What face soe'er hangs o'er him be forgot Clean as, in Dia, Theseus (legends say) Forgat his Ariadne's locks of love." Turn, magic, wheel, draw homeward him I love. The coltsfoot grows in Arcady, the weed That drives the mountain-colts and swift mares wild. Like them may Delphis rave: so, maniac-wise, Race from his burnished brethren home to me. Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. He lost this tassel from his robe; which I Shred thus, and cast it on the raging flames. Ah baleful Love! why, like the marsh-born leech, Cling to my flesh, and drain my dark veins dry? Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love. From a crushed eft tomorrow he shall drink Death! But now, Thestylis, take these herbs and smear That threshold o'er, whereto at heart I cling Still, still—albeit he thinks scorn of me— And spit, and say, ''Tis Delphis' bones I smear.' Turn, magic wheel, draw homeward him I love.
Now, all alone, I'll weep a love whence sprung When born? Who wrought my sorrow? Anaxo came, Her basket in her hand, to Artemis' grove. Bound for the festival, troops of forest beasts Stood round, and in the midst a lioness. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. Theucharidas' slave, my Thracian nurse now dead Then my near neighbour, prayed me and implored To see the pageant: I, the poor doomed thing, Went with her, trailing a fine silken train, And gathering round me Clearista's robe. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. Now, the mid-highway reached by Lycon's farm, Delphis and Eudamippus passed me by. With beards as lustrous as the woodbine's gold And breasts more sheeny than thyself, O Moon, Fresh from the wrestler's glorious toil they came. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. I saw, I raved, smit (weakling) to my heart. My beauty withered, and I cared no more For all that pomp; and how I gained my home I know not: some strange fever wasted me. Ten nights and days I lay upon my bed. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. And wan became my flesh, as 't had been dyed, And all my hair streamed off, and there was left But bones and skin. Whose threshold crossed I not, Or missed what grandam's hut who dealt in charms? For no light thing was this, and time sped on. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. At last I spake the truth to that my maid: "Seek, an thou canst, some cure for my sore pain. Alas, I am all the Mindian's! But begone, And watch by Timagetus' wrestling-school: There doth he haunt, there soothly take his rest. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. "Find him alone: nod softly: say, 'she waits'; And bring him." So I spake: she went her way, And brought the lustrous-limbed one to my roof. And I, the instant I beheld him step Lightfooted o'er the threshold of my door, (Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love,) Became all cold like snow, and from my brow Brake the damp dewdrops: utterance I had none, Not e'en such utterance as a babe may make That babbles to its mother in its dreams; But all my fair frame stiffened into wax. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. He bent his pitiless eyes on me; looked down, And sate him on my couch, and sitting, said: "Thou hast gained on me, Simaetha, (e'en as I Gained once on young Philinus in the race,) Bidding me hither ere I came unasked. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. "For I had come, by Eros I had come, This night, with comrades twain or may-be more, The fruitage of the Wine-god in my robe, And, wound about my brow with ribands red, The silver leaves so dear to Heracles. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. "Had ye said 'Enter,' well: for 'mid my peers High is my name for goodliness and speed: I had kissed that sweet mouth once and gone my way. But had the door been barred, and I thrust out, With brand and axe would we have stormed ye then. Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love. "Now be my thanks recorded, first to Love, Next to thee, maiden, who didst pluck me out, A half-burned helpless creature, from the flames, And badst me hither. It is Love that lights A fire more fierce than his of Lipara; (Bethink thee, mistress Moon, whence came my love.) "Scares, mischief-mad, the maiden from her bower, The bride from her warm couch." He spake: and I, A willing listener, sat, my hand in his, Among the cushions, and his cheek touched mine, Each hotter than its wont, and we discoursed In soft low language. Need I prate to thee, Sweet Moon, of all we said and all we did? Till yesterday he found no fault with me, Nor I with him. But lo, to-day there came Philista's mother—hers who flutes to me— With her Melampo's; just when up the sky Gallop the mares that chariot rose-limbed Dawn: And divers tales she brought me, with the rest How Delphis loved, she knew not rightly whom: But this she knew; that of the rich wine, aye He poured 'to Love;' and at the last had fled, To line, she deemed, the fair one's hall with flowers. Such was my visitor's tale, and it was true: For thrice, nay four times, daily he would stroll Hither, leave here full oft his Dorian flask: Now—'tis a fortnight since I saw his face. Doth he then treasure something sweet elsewhere? Am I forgot? I'll charm him now with charms. But let him try me more, and by the Fates He'll soon be knocking at the gates of hell. Spells of such power are in this chest of mine, Learned, lady, from mine host in Palestine.
Lady, farewell: turn ocean-ward thy steeds: As I have purposed, so shall I fulfil. Farewell, thou bright-faced Moon! Ye stars, farewell, That wait upon the car of noiseless Night.
I pipe to Amaryllis; while my goats, Tityrus their guardian, browse along the fell. O Tityrus, as I love thee, feed my goats: And lead them to the spring, and, Tityrus, 'ware The lifted crest of yon gray Libyan ram. Ah winsome Amaryllis! Why no more Greet'st thou thy darling, from the caverned rock Peeping all coyly? Think'st thou scorn of him? Hath a near view revealed him satyr-shaped Of chin and nostril? I shall hang me soon. See here ten apples: from thy favourite tree I plucked them: I shall bring ten more anon. Ah witness my heart-anguish! Oh were I A booming bee, to waft me to thy lair, Threading the fern and ivy in whose depths Thou nestlest! I have learned what Love is now: Fell god, he drank the lioness's milk, In the wild woods his mother cradled him, Whose fire slow-burns me, smiting to the bone. O thou whose glance is beauty and whose heart All marble: O dark-eyebrowed maiden mine! Cling to thy goatherd, let him kiss thy lips, For there is sweetness in an empty kiss. Thou wilt not? Piecemeal I will rend the crown, The ivy-crown which, dear, I guard for thee, Inwov'n with scented parsley and with flowers: Oh I am desperate—what betides me, what?— Still art thou deaf? I'll doff my coat of skins And leap into yon waves, where on the watch For mackerel Olpis sits: tho' I 'scape death, That I have all but died will pleasure thee. That learned I when (I murmuring 'loves she me?') The Love-in-absence, crushed, returned no sound, But shrank and shrivelled on my smooth young wrist. I learned it of the sieve-divining crone Who gleaned behind the reapers yesterday: 'Thou'rt wrapt up all,' Agraia said, 'in her; She makes of none account her worshipper.' Lo! a white goat, and twins, I keep for thee: Mermnon's lass covets them: dark she is of skin: But yet hers be they; thou but foolest me. She cometh, by the quivering of mine eye. I'll lean against the pine-tree here and sing. She may look round: she is not adamant.
[Sings] Hippomenes, when he a maid would wed, Took apples in his hand and on he sped. Famed Atalanta's heart was won by this; She marked, and maddening sank in Love's abyss.
From Othrys did the seer Melampus stray To Pylos with his herd: and lo there lay In a swain's arms a maid of beauty rare; Alphesiboea, wise of heart, she bare.
Did not Adonis rouse to such excess Of frenzy her whose name is Loveliness, (He a mere lad whose wethers grazed the hill) That, dead, he's pillowed on her bosom still?
Endymion sleeps the sleep that changeth not: And, maiden mine, I envy him his lot! Envy Iasion's: his it was to gain Bliss that I dare not breathe in ears profane.
My head aches. What reck'st thou? I sing no more: E'en where I fell I'll lie, until the wolves Rend me—may that be honey in thy mouth!
BATTUS. Who owns these cattle, Corydon? Philondas? Prythee say.
CORYDON. No, AEgon: and he gave them me to tend while he's away.
BATTUS. Dost milk them in the gloaming, when none is nigh to see?
CORYDON. The old man brings the calves to suck, and keeps an eye on me.
BATTUS. And to what region then hath flown the cattle's rightful lord?
CORYDON. Hast thou not heard? With Milo he vanished Elis-ward.
BATTUS. How! was the wrestler's oil e'er yet so much as seen by him?
CORYDON. Men say he rivals Heracles in lustiness of limb.
BATTUS. I'm Polydeuces' match (or so my mother says) and more.
CORYDON. —So off he started; with a spade, and of these ewes a score.
BATTUS. This Milo will be teaching wolves how they should raven next.
CORYDON. —And by these bellowings his kine proclaim how sore they're vexed.
BATTUS. Poor kine! they've found their master a sorry knave indeed.
CORYDON. They're poor enough, I grant you: they have not heart to feed.
BATTUS. Look at that heifer! sure there's naught, save bare bones, left of her. Pray, does she browse on dewdrops, as doth the grasshopper?
CORYDON. Not she, by heaven! She pastures now by AEsarus' glades, And handfuls fair I pluck her there of young and green grass-blades; Now bounds about Latymnus, that gathering-place of shades.
BATTUS. That bull again, the red one, my word but he is lean! I wish the Sybarite burghers aye may offer to the queen Of heaven as pitiful a beast: those burghers are so mean!
CORYDON. Yet to the Salt Lake's edges I drive him, I can swear; Up Physcus, up Neaethus' side—he lacks not victual there, With dittany and endive and foxglove for his fare.
BATTUS. Well, well! I pity AEgon. His cattle, go they must To rack and ruin, all because vain-glory was his lust. The pipe that erst he fashioned is doubtless scored with rust?
CORYDON. Nay, by the Nymphs! That pipe he left to me, the self-same day He made for Pisa: I am too a minstrel in my way: Well the flute-part in 'Pyrrhus' and in 'Glauca' can I play. I sing too 'Here's to Croton' and 'Zacynthus O 'tis fair,' And 'Eastward to Lacinium:'—the bruiser Milo there His single self ate eighty loaves; there also did he pull Down from its mountain-dwelling, by one hoof grasped, a bull, And gave it Amaryllis: the maidens screamed with fright; As for the owner of the bull he only laughed outright.
BATTUS. Sweet Amaryllis! thou alone, though dead, art unforgot. Dearer than thou, whose light is quenched, my very goats are not. Oh for the all-unkindly fate that's fallen to my lot!
CORYDON. Cheer up, brave lad! tomorrow may ease thee of thy pain: Aye for the living are there hopes, past' hoping are the slain: And now Zeus sends us sunshine, and now he sends us rain.
BATTUS. I'm better. Beat those young ones off! E'en now their teeth attack That olive's shoots, the graceless brutes! Back, with your white face, back!
CORYDON. Back to thy hill, Cymaetha! Great Pan, how deaf thou art! I shall be with thee presently, and in the end thou'lt smart. I warn thee, keep thy distance. Look, up she creeps again! Oh were my hare-crook in nay hand, I'd give it to her then!
BATTUS. For heaven's sake, Corydon, look here! Just now a bramble-spike Ran, there, into my instep—and oh how deep they strike, Those lancewood-shafts! A murrain light on that calf, I say! I got it gaping after her. Canst thou discern it, pray?
CORYDON. Ay, ay; and here I have it, safe in my finger-nails.
BATTUS. Eh! at how slight a matter how tall a warrior quails!
CORYDON. Ne'er range the hill-crest, Battus, all sandal-less and bare: Because the thistle and the thorn lift aye their plumed heads there.
BATTUS. —Say, Corydon, does that old man we wot of (tell me please!) Still haunt the dark-browed little girl whom once he used to tease?
CORYDON. Ay my poor boy, that doth he: I saw them yesterday Down by the byre; and, trust me, loving enough were they.
BATTUS. Well done, my veteran light-o'-love! In deeming thee mere man, I wronged thy sire: some Satyr he, or an uncouth-limbed Pan.
The Battle of the Bards.
COMETAS. LACON. MORSON.
COMETAS. Goats, from a shepherd who stands here, from Lacon, keep away: Sibyrtas owns him; and he stole my goatskin yesterday.
LACON. Hi! lambs! avoid yon fountain. Have ye not eyes to see Cometas, him who filched a pipe but two days back from me?
COMETAS. Sibyrtas' bondsman own a pipe? whence gotst thou that, and how? Tootling through straws with Corydon mayhap's beneath thee now?
LACON. 'Twas Lycon's gift, your highness. But pray, Cometas, say, What is that skin wherewith thou saidst that Lacon walked away? Why, thy lord's self had ne'er a skin whereon his limbs to lay.
COMETAS. The skin that Crocylus gave me, a dark one streaked with white, The day he slew his she-goat. Why, thou wert ill with spite, Then, my false friend; and thou would'st end by beggaring me quite.
LACON. Did Lacon, did Calaethis' son purloin a goatskin? No, By Pan that haunts the sea-beach! Lad, if I served thee so, Crazed may I drop from yon hill-top to Crathis' stream below!
COMETAS. Nor pipe of thine, good fellow—the Ladies of the Lake So be still kind and good to me—did e'er Cometas take.
LACON. Be Daphnis' woes my portion, should that my credence win! Still, if thou list to stake a kid—that surely were no sin— Come on, I'll sing it out with thee—until thou givest in.
COMETAS. 'The hog he braved Athene.' As for the kid, 'tis there: You stake a lamb against him—that fat one—if you dare.
LACON. Fox! were that fair for either? At shearing who'd prefer Horsehair to wool? or when the goat stood handy, suffer her To nurse her firstling, and himself go milk a blatant cur?
COMETAS. The same who deemed his hornet's-buzz the true cicala's note, And braved—like you—his better. And so forsooth you vote My kid a trifle? Then come on, fellow! I stake the goat.
LACON. Why be so hot? Art thou on fire? First prythee take thy seat 'Neath this wild woodland olive: thy tones will sound more sweet. Here falls a cold rill drop by drop, and green grass-blades uprear Their heads, and fallen leaves are thick, and locusts prattle here.
COMETAS. Hot I am not; but hurt I am, and sorely, when I think That thou canst look me in the face and never bleach nor blink— Me, thine own boyhood's tutor! Go, train the she-wolf's brood: Train dogs—that they may rend thee! This, this is gratitude!
LACON. When learned I from thy practice or thy preaching aught that's right, Thou puppet, thou misshapen lump of ugliness and spite?
COMETAS. When? When I beat thee, wailing sore: yon goats looked on with glee, And bleated; and were dealt with e'en as I had dealt with thee.
LACON. Well, hunchback, shallow be thy grave as was thy judgment then! But hither, hither! Thou'lt not dip in herdsman's lore again.
COMETAS. Nay, here are oaks and galingale: the hum of housing bees Makes the place pleasant, and the birds are piping in the trees. And here are two cold streamlets; here deeper shadows fall Than yon place owns, and look what cones drop from the pinetree tall.
LACON. Come hither, and tread on lambswool that is soft as any dream: Still more unsavoury than thyself to me thy goatskins seem. Here will I plant a bowl of milk, our ladies' grace to win; And one, as huge, beside it, sweet olive-oil therein.
COMETAS. Come hither, and trample dainty fern and poppy-blossom: sleep On goatskins that are softer than thy fleeces piled three deep. Here will I plant eight milkpails, great Pan's regard to gain, Bound them eight cups: full honeycombs shall every cup contain.
LACON. Well! there essay thy woodcraft: thence fight me, never budge From thine own oak; e'en have thy way. But who shall be our judge? Oh, if Lycopas with his kine should chance this way to trudge!
COMETAS. Nay, I want no Lycopas. But hail yon woodsman, do: 'Tis Morson—see! his arms are full of bracken—there, by you.
LACON. We'll hail him.
COMETAS. Ay, you hail him.
LACON. Friend, 'twill not take thee long: We're striving which is master, we twain, in woodland song: And thou, my good friend Morson, ne'er look with favouring eyes On me; nor yet to yonder lad be fain to judge the prize.
COMETAS. Nay, by the Nymphs, sweet Morson, ne'er for Cometas' sake Stretch thou a point; nor e'er let him undue advantage take. Sibyrtas owns yon wethers; a Thurian is he: And here, my friend, Eumares' goats, of Sybaris, you may see.
LACON. And who asked thee, thou naughty knave, to whom belonged these flocks, Sibyrtas, or (it might be) me? Eh, thou'rt a chatter-box!
COMETAS. The simple truth, most worshipful, is all that I allege: I'm not for boasting. But thy wit hath all too keen an edge.
LACON. Come sing, if singing's in thee—and may our friend get back To town alive! Heaven help us, lad, how thy tongue doth clack!
COMETAS. [Sings] Daphnis the mighty minstrel was less precious to the Nine Than I. I offered yesterday two kids upon their shrine.
LACON. [Sings] Ay, but Apollo fancies me hugely: for him I rear A lordly ram: and, look you, the Carnival is near.
COMETAS. Twin kids hath every goat I milk, save two. My maid, my own, Eyes me and asks 'At milking time, rogue, art thou all alone?'
LACON. Go to! nigh twenty baskets doth Lacon fill with cheese: Hath time to woo a sweetheart too upon the blossomed leas.
COMETAS. Clarissa pelts her goatherd with apples, should he stray By with his goats; and pouts her lip in a quaint charming way.
LACON. Me too a darling smooth of face notes as I tend my flocks: How maddeningly o'er that fair neck ripple those shining locks!
COMETAS. Tho' dogrose and anemone are fair in their degree, The rose that blooms by garden-walls still is the rose for me.
LACON. Tho' acorns' cups are fair, their taste is bitterness, and still I'll choose, for honeysweet are they, the apples of the hill.
COMETAS. A cushat I will presently procure and give to her Who loves me: I know where it sits; up in the juniper.
LACON. Pooh! a soft fleece, to make a coat, I'll give the day I shear My brindled ewe—(no hand but mine shall touch it)—to my dear.
COMETAS. Back, lambs, from that wild-olive: and be content to browse Here on the shoulder of the hill, beneath the myrtle boughs.
LACON. Run, (will ye?) Ball and Dogstar, down from that oak tree, run: And feed where Spot is feeding, and catch the morning sun.
COMETAS. I have a bowl of cypress-wood: I have besides a cup: Praxiteles designed them: for her they're treasured up.
LACON. I have a dog who throttles wolves: he loves the sheep, and they Love him: I'll give him to my dear, to keep wild beasts at bay.
COMETAS. Ye locusts that o'erleap my fence, oh let my vines escape Your clutches, I beseech you: the bloom is on the grape.
LACON. Ye crickets, mark how nettled our friend the goatherd is! I ween, ye cost the reapers pangs as acute as his.
COMETAS. Those foxes with their bushy tails, I hate to see them crawl Round Micon's homestead and purloin his grapes at evenfall.
LACON. I hate to see the beetles that come warping on the wind. And climb Philondas' trees, and leave never a fig behind.
COMETAS. Have you forgot that cudgelling I gave you? At each stroke You grinned and twisted with a grace, and clung to yonder oak.
LACON. That I've forgot—but I have not, how once Eumares tied You to that selfsame oak-trunk, and tanned your unclean hide.
COMETAS. There's some one ill—of heartburn. You note it, I presume, Morson? Go quick, and fetch a squill from some old beldam's tomb.
LACON. I think I'm stinging somebody, as Morson too perceives— Go to the river and dig up a clump of sowbread-leaves.
COMETAS. May Himera flow, not water, but milk: and may'st thou blush, Crathis, with wine; and fruitage grow upon every rush.
LACON. For me may Sybaris' fountain flow, pure honey: so that you, My fair, may dip your pitcher each morn in honey-dew.
COMETAS. My goats are fed on clover and goat's-delight: they tread On lentisk leaves; or lie them down, ripe strawberries o'er their head.
LACON. My sheep crop honeysuckle bloom, while all around them blows In clusters rich the jasmine, as brave as any rose.
COMETAS. I scorn my maid; for when she took my cushat, she did not Draw with both hands my face to hers and kiss me on the spot.
LACON. I love my love, and hugely: for, when I gave my flute, I was rewarded with a kiss, a loving one to boot.
COMETAS. Lacon, the nightingale should scarce be challenged by the jay, Nor swan by hoopoe: but, poor boy, thou aye wert for a fray.
MORSON. I bid the shepherd hold his peace. Cometas, unto you I, Morson, do adjudge the lamb. You'll first make offering due Unto the nymphs: then savoury meat you'll send to Morson too.
COMETAS. By Pan I will! Snort, all my herd of he-goats: I shall now O'er Lacon, shepherd as he is, crow ye shall soon see how. I've won, and I could leap sky-high! Ye also dance and skip, My horned ewes: in Sybaris' fount to-morrow all shall dip. Ho! you, sir, with the glossy coat and dangerous crest; you dare Look at a ewe, till I have slain my lamb, and ill you'll fare. What! is he at his tricks again? He is, and he will get (Or my name's not Cometas) a proper pounding yet.
The Drawn Battle.
Daphnis the herdsman and Damoetas once Had driven, Aratus, to the selfsame glen. One chin was yellowing, one shewed half a beard. And by a brookside on a summer noon The pair sat down and sang; but Daphnis led The song, for Daphnis was the challenger.
DAPHNIS. "See! Galatea pelts thy flock with fruit, And calls their master 'Lack-love,' Polypheme. Thou mark'st her not, blind, blind, but pipest aye Thy wood-notes. See again, she smites thy dog: Sea-ward the fleeced flocks' sentinel peers and barks, And, through the clear wave visible to her still, Careers along the gently babbling beach. Look that he leap not on the maid new-risen From her sea-bath and rend her dainty limbs. She fools thee, near or far, like thistle-waifs In hot sweet summer: flies from thee when wooed, Unwooed pursues thee: risks all moves to win; For, Polypheme, things foul seem fair to Love."
And then, due prelude made, Damoetas sang.
DAMOETAS. "I marked her pelt my dog, I was not blind, By Pan, by this my one my precious eye That bounds my vision now and evermore! But Telemus the Seer, be his the woe, His and his children's, that he promised me! Yet do I too tease her; I pass her by, Pretend to woo another:—and she hears (Heaven help me!) and is faint with jealousy; And hurrying from the sea-wave as if stung, Scans with keen glance my grotto and my flock. 'Twas I hissed on the dog to bark at her; For, when I loved her, he would whine and lay His muzzle in her lap. These things she'll note Mayhap, and message send on message soon: But I will bar my door until she swear To make me on this isle fair bridal-bed. And I am less unlovely than men say. I looked into the mere (the mere was calm), And goodly seemed my beard, and goodly seemed My solitary eye, and, half-revealed, My teeth gleamed whiter than the Parian marl. Thrice for good luck I spat upon my robe: That learned I of the hag Cottytaris—her Who fluted lately with Hippocooen's mowers."
Damoetas then kissed Daphnis lovingly: One gave a pipe and one a goodly flute. Straight to the shepherd's flute and herdsman's pipe The younglings bounded in the soft green grass: And neither was o'ermatched, but matchless both.
Once on a time did Eucritus and I (With us Amyntas) to the riverside Steal from the city. For Lycopeus' sons Were that day busy with the harvest-home, Antigenes and Phrasidemus, sprung (If aught thou holdest by the good old names) By Clytia from great Chalcon—him who erst Planted one stalwart knee against the rock, And lo, beneath his foot Burine's rill Brake forth, and at its side poplar and elm Shewed aisles of pleasant shadow, greenly roofed By tufted leaves. Scarce midway were we now, Nor yet descried the tomb of Brasilas: When, thanks be to the Muses, there drew near A wayfarer from Crete, young Lycidas. The horned herd was his care: a glance might tell So much: for every inch a herdsman he. Slung o'er his shoulder was a ruddy hide Torn from a he-goat, shaggy, tangle-haired, That reeked of rennet yet: a broad belt clasped A patched cloak round his breast, and for a staff A gnarled wild-olive bough his right hand bore. Soon with a quiet smile he spoke—his eye Twinkled, and laughter sat upon his lip: "And whither ploddest thou thy weary way Beneath the noontide sun, Simichidas? For now the lizard sleeps upon the wall, The crested lark folds now his wandering wing. Dost speed, a bidden guest, to some reveller's board? Or townward to the treading of the grape? For lo! recoiling from thy hurrying feet The pavement-stones ring out right merrily." Then I: "Friend Lycid, all men say that none Of haymakers or herdsmen is thy match At piping: and my soul is glad thereat. Yet, to speak sooth, I think to rival thee. Now look, this road holds holiday to-day: For banded brethren solemnise a feast To richly-dight Demeter, thanking her For her good gifts: since with no grudging hand Hath the boon goddess filled the wheaten floors. So come: the way, the day, is thine as mine: Try we our woodcraft—each may learn from each. I am, as thou, a clarion-voice of song; All hail me chief of minstrels. But I am not, Heaven knows, o'ercredulous: no, I scarce can yet (I think) outvie Philetas, nor the bard Of Samos, champion of Sicilian song. They are as cicadas challenged by a frog."
I spake to gain mine ends; and laughing light He said: "Accept this club, as thou'rt indeed A born truth-teller, shaped by heaven's own hand! I hate your builders who would rear a house High as Oromedon's mountain-pinnacle: I hate your song-birds too, whose cuckoo-cry Struggles (in vain) to match the Chian bard. But come, we'll sing forthwith, Simichidas, Our woodland music: and for my part I— List, comrade, if you like the simple air I forged among the uplands yesterday.
[Sings] Safe be my true-love convoyed o'er the main To Mitylene—though the southern blast Chase the lithe waves, while westward slant the Kids, Or low above the verge Orion stand— If from Love's furnace she will rescue me, For Lycidas is parched with hot desire. Let halcyons lay the sea-waves and the winds, Northwind and Westwind, that in shores far-off Flutters the seaweed—halcyons, of all birds Whose prey is on the waters, held most dear By the green Nereids: yea let all things smile On her to Mitylene voyaging, And in fair harbour may she ride at last. I on that day, a chaplet woven of dill Or rose or simple violet on my brow, Will draw the wine of Pteleas from the cask Stretched by the ingle. They shall roast me beans, And elbow-deep in thyme and asphodel And quaintly-curling parsley shall be piled My bed of rushes, where in royal ease I sit and, thinking of my darling, drain With stedfast lip the liquor to the dregs. I'll have a pair of pipers, shepherds both, This from Acharnae, from Lycope that; And Tityrus shall be near me and shall sing How the swain Daphnis loved the stranger-maid; And how he ranged the fells, and how the oaks (Such oaks as Himera's banks are green withal) Sang dirges o'er him waning fast away Like snow on Athos, or on Haemus high, Or Rhodope, or utmost Caucasus. And he shall sing me how the big chest held (All through the maniac malice of his lord) A living goatherd: how the round-faced bees, Lured from their meadow by the cedar-smell, Fed him with daintiest flowers, because the Muse Had made his throat a well-spring of sweet song. Happy Cometas, this sweet lot was thine! Thee the chest prisoned, for thee the honey-bees Toiled, as thou slavedst out the mellowing year: And oh hadst thou been numbered with the quick In my day! I had led thy pretty goats About the hill-side, listening to thy voice: While thou hadst lain thee down 'neath oak or pine, Divine Cometas, warbling pleasantly."
He spake and paused; and thereupon spake I. "I too, friend Lycid, as I ranged the fells, Have learned much lore and pleasant from the Nymphs, Whose fame mayhap hath reached the throne of Zeus. But this wherewith I'll grace thee ranks the first: Thou listen, since the Muses like thee well.
[Sings] On me the young Loves sneezed: for hapless I Am fain of Myrto as the goats of Spring. But my best friend Aratus inly pines For one who loves him not. Aristis saw— (A wondrous seer is he, whose lute and lay Shrined Apollo's self would scarce disdain)— How love had scorched Aratus to the bone. O Pan, who hauntest Homole's fair champaign, Bring the soft charmer, whosoe'er it be, Unbid to his sweet arms—so, gracious Pan, May ne'er thy ribs and shoulderblades be lashed With squills by young Arcadians, whensoe'er They are scant of supper! But should this my prayer Mislike thee, then on nettles mayest thou sleep, Dinted and sore all over from their claws! Then mayest thou lodge amid Edonian hills By Hebrus, in midwinter; there subsist, The Bear thy neighbour: and, in summer, range With the far AEthiops 'neath the Blemmyan rocks Where Nile is no more seen! But O ye Loves, Whose cheeks are like pink apples, quit your homes By Hyetis, or Byblis' pleasant rill, Or fair Dione's rocky pedestal, And strike that fair one with your arrows, strike The ill-starred damsel who disdains my friend. And lo, what is she but an o'er-ripe pear? The girls all cry 'Her bloom is on the wane.' We'll watch, Aratus, at that porch no more, Nor waste shoe-leather: let the morning cock Crow to wake others up to numb despair! Let Molon, and none else, that ordeal brave: While we make ease our study, and secure Some witch, to charm all evil from our door."
I ceased. He smiling sweetly as before, Gave me the staff, 'the Muses' parting gift,' And leftward sloped toward Pyxa. We the while, Bent us to Phrasydeme's, Eucritus and I, And baby-faced Amyntas: there we lay Half-buried in a couch of fragrant reed And fresh-cut vineleaves, who so glad as we? A wealth of elm and poplar shook o'erhead; Hard by, a sacred spring flowed gurgling on From the Nymphs' grot, and in the sombre boughs The sweet cicada chirped laboriously. Hid in the thick thorn-bushes far away The treefrog's note was heard; the crested lark Sang with the goldfinch; turtles made their moan, And o'er the fountain hung the gilded bee. All of rich summer smacked, of autumn all: Pears at our feet, and apples at our side Rolled in luxuriance; branches on the ground Sprawled, overweighed with damsons; while we brushed From the cask's head the crust of four long years. Say, ye who dwell upon Parnassian peaks, Nymphs of Castalia, did old Chiron e'er Set before Heracles a cup so brave In Pholus' cavern—did as nectarous draughts Cause that Anapian shepherd, in whose hand Rocks were as pebbles, Polypheme the strong, Featly to foot it o'er the cottage lawns:— As, ladies, ye bid flow that day for us All by Demeter's shrine at harvest-home? Beside whose cornstacks may I oft again Plant my broad fan: while she stands by and smiles, Poppies and cornsheaves on each laden arm.
The Triumph of Daphnis.
DAPHNIS. MENALCAS. A GOATHERD.
Daphnis, the gentle herdsman, met once, as legend tells, Menalcas making with his flock the circle of the fells. Both chins were gilt with coming beards: both lads could sing and play: Menalcas glanced at Daphnis, and thus was heard to say:— "Art thou for singing, Daphnis, lord of the lowing kine? I say my songs are better, by what thou wilt, than thine." Then in his turn spake Daphnis, and thus he made reply: "O shepherd of the fleecy flock, thou pipest clear and high; But come what will, Menalcas, thou ne'er wilt sing as I."
MENALCAS. This art thou fain to ascertain, and risk a bet with me?
DAPHNIS. This I full fain would ascertain, and risk a bet with thee.
MENALCAS. But what, for champions such as we, would, seem a fitting prize?
DAPHNIS. I stake a calf: stake thou a lamb, its mother's self in size.
MENALCAS. A lamb I'll venture never: for aye at close of day Father and mother count the flock, and passing strict are they.
DAPHNIS. Then what shall be the victor's fee? What wager wilt thou lay?
MENALCAS. A pipe discoursing through nine mouths I made, full fair to view; The wax is white thereon, the line of this and that edge true. I'll risk it: risk my father's own is more than I dare do.
DAPHNIS. A pipe discoursing through nine mouths, and fair, hath Daphnis too: The wax is white thereon, the line of this and that edge true. But yesterday I made it: this finger feels the pain Still, where indeed the rifted reed hath cut it clean in twain. But who shall be our umpire? who listen to our strain?
MENALCAS. Suppose we hail yon goatherd; him at whose horned herd now The dog is barking—yonder dog with white upon his brow.
Then out they called: the goatherd marked them, and up came he; Then out they sang; the goatherd their umpire fain would be. To shrill Menalcas' lot it fell to start the woodland lay: Then Daphnis took it up. And thus Menalcas led the way.
MENALCAS. "Rivers and vales, a glorious birth! Oh if Menalcas e'er Piped aught of pleasant music in your ears: Then pasture, nothing loth, his lambs; and let young Daphnis fare No worse, should he stray hither with his steers."
DAPHNIS. "Pastures and rills, a bounteous race! If Daphnis sang you e'er Such songs as ne'er from nightingale have flowed; Then to his herd your fatness lend; and let Menalcas share Like boon, should e'er he wend along this road."
MENALCAS. "'Tis spring, 'tis greenness everywhere; with milk the udders teem, And all things that are young have life anew, Where my sweet maiden wanders: but parched and withered seem, When she departeth, lawn and shepherd too."
DAPHNIS. "Fat are the sheep, the goats bear twins, the hives are thronged with bees, Rises the oak beyond his natural growth, Where falls my darling's footstep: but hungriness shall seize, When she departeth, herd and herdsman both."
MENALCAS. "Come, ram, with thy blunt-muzzled kids and sleek wives at thy side, Where winds the brook by woodlands myriad-deep: There is her haunt. Go, Stump-horn, tell her how Proteus plied (A god) the shepherd's trade, with seals for sheep."
DAPHNIS. "I ask not gold, I ask not the broad lands of a king; I ask not to be fleeter than the breeze; But 'neath this steep to watch my sheep, feeding as one, and fling (Still clasping her) my carol o'er the seas."
MENALCAS. "Storms are the fruit-tree's bane; the brook's, a summer hot and dry; The stag's a woven net, a gin the dove's; Mankind's, a soft sweet maiden. Others have pined ere I: Zeus! Father! hadst not thou thy lady-loves?"
Thus far, in alternating strains, the lads their woes rehearst: Then each one gave a closing stave. Thus sang Menalcas first:—
MENALCAS. "O spare, good wolf, my weanlings! their milky mothers spare! Harm not the little lad that hath so many in his care! What, Firefly, is thy sleep so deep? It ill befits a hound, Tending a boyish master's flock, to slumber over-sound. And, wethers, of this tender grass take, nothing coy, your fill: So, when it comes, the after-math shall find you feeding still. So! so! graze on, that ye be full, that not an udder fail: Part of the milk shall rear the lambs, and part shall fill my pail." Then Daphnis flung a carol out, as of a nightingale:—
DAPHNIS. "Me from her grot but yesterday a girl of haughty brow Spied as I passed her with my kine, and said, "How fair art thou!" I vow that not one bitter word in answer did I say, But, looking ever on the ground, went silently my way. The heifer's voice, the heifer's breath, are passing sweet to me; And sweet is sleep by summer-brooks upon the breezy lea: As acorns are the green oak's pride, apples the apple-bough's; So the cow glorieth in her calf, the cowherd in his cows." Thus the two lads; then spoke the third, sitting his goats among:
GOATHERD. "O Daphnis, lovely is thy voice, thy music sweetly sung; Such song is pleasanter to me than honey on my tongue. Accept this pipe, for thou hast won. And should there be some notes That thou couldst teach me, as I plod alongside with my goats, I'll give thee for thy schooling this ewe, that horns hath none: Day after day she'll fill the can, until the milk o'errun."
Then how the one lad laughed and leaped and clapped his hands for glee! A kid that bounds to meet its dam might dance as merrily. And how the other inly burned, struck down by his disgrace! A maid first parting from her home might wear as sad a face.
Thenceforth was Daphnis champion of all the country side: And won, while yet in topmost youth, a Naiad for his bride.
DAPHNIS. MENALCAS. A SHEPHERD.
SHEPHERD. A song from Daphnis! Open he the lay, He open: and Menalcas follow next: While the calves suck, and with the barren kine The young bulls graze, or roam knee-deep in leaves, And ne'er play truant. But a song from thee, Daphnis—anon Menalcas will reply.
DAPHNIS. Sweet is the chorus of the calves and kine, And sweet the herdsman's pipe. But none may vie With Daphnis; and a rush-strown bed is mine Near a cool rill, where carpeted I lie On fair white goatskins. From a hill-top high The westwind swept me down the herd entire, Cropping the strawberries: whence it comes that I No more heed summer, with his breath of fire, Than lovers heed the words of mother and of sire.
Thus Daphnis: and Menalcas answered thus:—
MENALCAS. O AEtna, mother mine! A grotto fair, Scooped in the rocks, have I: and there I keep All that in dreams men picture! Treasured there Are multitudes of she-goats and of sheep, Swathed in whose wool from top to toe I sleep. The fire that boils my pot, with oak or beech Is piled—dry beech-logs when the snow lies deep; And storm and sunshine, I disdain them each As toothless sires a nut, when broth is in their reach.
I clapped applause, and straight produced my gifts: A staff for Daphnis—'twas the handiwork Of nature, in my father's acres grown: Yet might a turner find no fault therewith. I gave his mate a goodly spiral-shell: We stalked its inmate on the Icarian rocks And ate him, parted fivefold among five. He blew forthwith the trumpet on his shell. Tell, woodland Muse—and then farewell—what song I, the chance-comer, sang before those twain.
SHEPHERD. Ne'er let a falsehood scarify my tongue! Crickets with crickets, ants with ants agree, And hawks with hawks: and music sweetly sung, Beyond all else, is grateful unto me. Filled aye with music may my dwelling be! Not slumber, not the bursting forth of Spring So charms me, nor the flowers that tempt the bee, As those sweet Sisters. He, on whom they fling One gracious glance, is proof to Circe's blandishing.
The Two Workmen.
What now, poor o'erworked drudge, is on thy mind? No more in even swathe thou layest the corn: Thy fellow-reapers leave thee far behind, As flocks a ewe that's footsore from a thorn. By noon and midday what will be thy plight If now, so soon, thy sickle fails to bite?
BATTUS. Hewn from hard rocks, untired at set of sun, Milo, didst ne'er regret some absent one?
MILO. Not I. What time have workers for regret?
BATTUS. Hath love ne'er kept thee from thy slumbers yet?
MILO. Nay, heaven forbid! If once the cat taste cream!
BATTUS. Milo, these ten days love hath been my dream.
MILO. You drain your wine, while vinegar's scarce with me.
BATTUS. —Hence since last spring untrimmed my borders be.
MILO. And what lass flouts thee?
BATTUS. She whom we heard play Amongst Hippocooen's reapers yesterday.
MILO. Your sins have found you out—you're e'en served right: You'll clasp a corn-crake in your arms all night.
BATTUS. You laugh: but headstrong Love is blind no less Than Plutus: talking big is foolishness.
MILO. I talk not big. But lay the corn-ears low And trill the while some love-song—easier so Will seem your toil: you used to sing, I know.
BATTUS. Maids of Pieria, of my slim lass sing! One touch of yours ennobles everything.
[Sings] Fairy Bombyca! thee do men report Lean, dusk, a gipsy: I alone nut-brown. Violets and pencilled hyacinths are swart, Yet first of flowers they're chosen for a crown. As goats pursue the clover, wolves the goat, And cranes the ploughman, upon thee I dote.
Had I but Croesus' wealth, we twain should stand Gold-sculptured in Love's temple; thou, thy lyre (Ay or a rose or apple) in thy hand, I in my brave new shoon and dance-attire. Fairy Bombyca! twinkling dice thy feet, Poppies thy lips, thy ways none knows how sweet!
MILO. Who dreamed what subtle strains our bumpkin wrought? How shone the artist in each measured verse! Fie on the beard that I have grown for naught! Mark, lad, these lines by glorious Lytierse.
[Sings] O rich in fruit and cornblade: be this field Tilled well, Demeter, and fair fruitage yield!
Bind the sheaves, reapers: lest one, passing, say— 'A fig for these, they're never worth their pay.'
Let the mown swathes look northward, ye who mow, Or westward—for the ears grow fattest so.
Avoid a noontide nap, ye threshing men: The chaff flies thickest from the corn-ears then.
Wake when the lark wakes; when he slumbers, close Your work, ye reapers: and at noontide doze.
Boys, the frogs' life for me! They need not him Who fills the flagon, for in drink they swim.
Better boil herbs, thou toiler after gain, Than, splitting cummin, split thy hand in twain.
Strains such as these, I trow, befit them well Who toil and moil when noon is at its height: Thy meagre love-tale, bumpkin, though shouldst tell Thy grandam as she wakes up ere 'tis light.
The Giant's Wooing
Methinks all nature hath no cure for Love, Plaster or unguent, Nicias, saving one; And this is light and pleasant to a man, Yet hard withal to compass—minstrelsy. As well thou wottest, being thyself a leech, And a prime favourite of those Sisters nine. 'Twas thus our Giant lived a life of ease, Old Polyphemus, when, the down scarce seen On lip and chin, he wooed his ocean nymph: No curlypated rose-and-apple wooer, But a fell madman, blind to all but love. Oft from the green grass foldward fared his sheep Unbid: while he upon the windy beach, Singing his Galatea, sat and pined From dawn to dusk, an ulcer at his heart: Great Aphrodite's shaft had fixed it there. Yet found he that one cure: he sate him down On the tall cliff, and seaward looked, and sang:—
"White Galatea, why disdain thy love? White as a pressed cheese, delicate as the lamb, Wild as the heifer, soft as summer grapes! If sweet sleep chain me, here thou walk'st at large; If sweet sleep loose me, straightway thou art gone, Scared like a sheep that sees the grey wolf near. I loved thee, maiden, when thou cam'st long since, To pluck the hyacinth-blossom on the fell, Thou and my mother, piloted by me. I saw thee, see thee still, from that day forth For ever; but 'tis naught, ay naught, to thee. I know, sweet maiden, why thou art so coy: Shaggy and huge, a single eyebrow spans From ear to ear my forehead, whence one eye Gleams, and an o'erbroad nostril tops my lip. Yet I, this monster, feed a thousand sheep That yield me sweetest draughts at milking-tide: In summer, autumn, or midwinter, still Fails not my cheese; my milkpail aye o'erflows. Then I can pipe as ne'er did Giant yet, Singing our loves—ours, honey, thine and mine— At dead of night: and hinds I rear eleven (Each with her fawn) and bearcubs four, for thee. Oh come to me—thou shalt not rue the day— And let the mad seas beat against the shore! 'Twere sweet to haunt my cave the livelong night: Laurel, and cypress tall, and ivy dun, And vines of sumptuous fruitage, all are there: And a cold spring that pine-clad AEtna flings Down from, the white snow's midst, a draught for gods! Who would not change for this the ocean-waves?
"But thou mislik'st my hair? Well, oaken logs Are here, and embers yet aglow with fire. Burn (if thou wilt) my heart out, and mine eye, Mine only eye wherein is my delight. Oh why was I not born a finny thing, To float unto thy side and kiss thy hand, Denied thy lips—and bring thee lilies white And crimson-petalled poppies' dainty bloom! Nay—summer hath his flowers and autumn his; I could not bring all these the selfsame day. Lo, should some mariner hither oar his road, Sweet, he shall teach me straightway how to swim, That haply I may learn what bliss ye find In your sea-homes. O Galatea, come Forth from yon waves, and coming forth forget (As I do, sitting here) to get thee home: And feed my flocks and milk them, nothing loth, And pour the rennet in to fix my cheese!
"The blame's my mother's; she is false to me; Spake thee ne'er yet one sweet word for my sake, Though day by day she sees me pine and pine. I'll feign strange throbbings in my head and feet To anguish her—as I am anguished now."
O Cyclops, Cyclops, where are flown thy wits? Go plait rush-baskets, lop the olive-boughs To feed thy lambkins—'twere the shrewder part. Chase not the recreant, milk the willing ewe: The world hath Galateas fairer yet.
"—Many a fair damsel bids me sport with her The livelong night, and smiles if I give ear. On land at least I still am somebody."
Thus did the Giant feed his love on song, And gained more ease than may be bought with gold.
Thou art come, lad, come! Scarce thrice hath dusk to day Given place—but lovers in an hour grow gray. As spring's more sweet than winter, grapes than thorns, The ewe's fleece richer than her latest-born's; As young girls' charms the thrice-wed wife's outshine, As fawns are lither than the ungainly kine, Or as the nightingale's clear notes outvie The mingled music of all birds that fly; So at thy coming passing glad was I. I ran to greet thee e'en as pilgrims run To beechen shadows from the scorching sun: Oh if on us accordant Loves would breathe, And our two names to future years bequeath!
'These twain'—let men say—'lived in olden days. This was a yokel (in their country-phrase), That was his mate (so talked these simple folk): And lovingly they bore a mutual yoke. The hearts of men were made of sterling gold, When troth met troth, in those brave days of old,'
O Zeus, O gods who age not nor decay! Let e'en two hundred ages roll away, But at the last these tidings let me learn, Borne o'er the fatal pool whence none return:— "By every tongue thy constancy is sung, Thine and thy favourite's—chiefly by the young." But lo, the future is in heaven's high hand: Meanwhile thy graces all my praise demand, Not false lip-praise, not idly bubbling froth— For though thy wrath be kindled, e'en thy wrath Hath no sting in it: doubly I am caressed, And go my way repaid with interest.
Oarsmen of Megara, ruled by Nisus erst! Yours be all bliss, because ye honoured first That true child-lover, Attic Diocles. Around his gravestone with the first spring-breeze Flock the bairns all, to win the kissing-prize: And whoso sweetliest lip to lip applies Goes crown-clad home to its mother. Blest is he Who in such strife is named the referee: To brightfaced Ganymede full oft he'll cry To lend his lip the potencies that lie Within that stone with which the usurers Detect base metal, and which never errs.
Not for us only, Nicias, (vain the dream,) Sprung from what god soe'er, was Eros born: Not to us only grace doth graceful seem, Frail things who wot not of the coming morn. No—for Amphitryon's iron-hearted son, Who braved the lion, was the slave of one:—
A fair curled creature, Hylas was his name. He taught him, as a father might his child, All songs whereby himself had risen to fame; Nor ever from his side would be beguiled When noon was high, nor when white steeds convey Back to heaven's gates the chariot of the day,
Nor when the hen's shrill brood becomes aware Of bed-time, as the mother's flapping wings Shadow the dust-browned beam. 'Twas all his care To shape unto his own imaginings And to the harness train his favourite youth, Till he became a man in very truth.
Meanwhile, when kingly Jason steered in quest Of the Gold Fleece, and chieftains at his side Chosen from all cities, proffering each her best, To rich Iolchos came that warrior tried, And joined him unto trim-built Argo's crew; And with Alcmena's son came Hylas too.
Through the great gulf shot Argo like a bird— And by-and-bye reached Phasis, ne'er o'erta'en By those in-rushing rocks, that have not stirred Since then, but bask, twin monsters, on the main. But now, when waned the spring, and lambs were fed In far-off fields, and Pleiads gleamed overhead,
That cream and flower of knighthood looked to sail. They came, within broad Argo safely stowed, (When for three days had blown the southern gale) To Hellespont, and in Propontis rode At anchor, where Cianian oxen now Broaden the furrows with the busy plough.
They leapt ashore, and, keeping rank, prepared Their evening meal: a grassy meadow spread Before their eyes, and many a warrior shared (Thanks to its verdurous stores) one lowly bed. And while they cut tall marigolds from their stem And sworded bulrush, Hylas slipt from them.
Water the fair lad wont to seek and bring To Heracles and stalwart Telamon, (The comrades aye partook each other's fare,) Bearing a brazen pitcher. And anon, Where the ground dipt, a fountain he espied, And rushes growing green about its side.
There rose the sea-blue swallow-wort, and there The pale-hued maidenhair, with parsley green And vagrant marsh-flowers; and a revel rare In the pool's midst the water-nymphs were seen To hold, those maidens of unslumbrous eyes Whom the belated peasant sees and flies.
And fast did Malis and Eunica cling, And young Nychea with her April face, To the lad's hand, as stooping o'er the spring He dipt his pitcher. For the young Greek's grace Made their soft senses reel; and down he fell, All of a sudden, into that black well.
So drops a red star suddenly from sky To sea—and quoth some sailor to his mate: "Up with the tackle, boy! the breeze is high." Him the nymphs pillowed, all disconsolate, On their sweet laps, and with soft words beguiled; But Heracles was troubled for the child.
Forth went he; Scythian-wise his bow he bore And the great club that never quits his side; And thrice called 'Hylas'—ne'er came lustier roar From that deep chest. Thrice Hylas heard and tried To answer, but in tones you scarce might hear; The water made them distant though so near.
And as a lion, when he hears the bleat Of fawns among the mountains far away, A murderous lion, and with hurrying feet Bounds from his lair to his predestined prey: So plunged the strong man in the untrodden brake— (Lovers are maniacs)—for his darling's sake.
He scoured far fields—what hill or oaken glen Remembers not that pilgrimage of pain? His troth to Jason was forgotten then. Long time the good ship tarried for those twain With hoisted sails; night came and still they cleared The hatches, but no Heracles appeared.
On he was wandering, reckless where he trod, So mad a passion on his vitals preyed: While Hylas had become a blessed god. But the crew cursed the runaway who had stayed Sixty good oars, and left him there to reach Afoot bleak Phasis and the Colchian beach.
The Love of AEschines.
AESCHINES. Hail, sir Thyonichus.
THYONICHUS. AEschines, to you.
AESCHINES. I have missed thee.
THYONICHUS. Missed me! Why what ails him now?
AESCHINES. My friend, I am ill at ease.
THYONICHUS. Then this explains Thy leanness, and thy prodigal moustache And dried-up curls. Thy counterpart I saw, A wan Pythagorean, yesterday. He said he came from Athens: shoes he had none: He pined, I'll warrant,—for a quartern loaf.
AESCHINES. Sir, you will joke—But I've been outraged, sore, And by Cynisca. I shall go stark mad Ere you suspect—a hair would turn the scale.
THYONICHUS. Such thou wert always, AEschines my friend. In lazy mood or trenchant, at thy whim The world must wag. But what's thy grievance now?
AESCHINES. That Argive, Apis the Thessalian Knight, Myself, and gallant Cleonicus, supped Within my grounds. Two pullets I had slain, And a prime pig: and broached my Biblian wine; 'Twas four years old, but fragrant as when new. Truffles were served to us: and the drink was good. Well, we got on, and each must drain a cup To whom he fancied; only each must name. We named, and took our liquor as ordained; But she sate silent—this before my face. Fancy my feelings! "Wilt not speak? Hast seen A wolf?" some wag said. "Shrewdly guessed," quoth she, And blushed—her blushes might have fired a torch. A wolf had charmed her: Wolf her neighbour's son, Goodly and tall, and fair in divers eyes: For his illustrious sake it was she pined. This had been breathed, just idly, in my ear: Shame on my beard, I ne'er pursued the hint. Well, when we four were deep amid our cups, The Knight must sing 'The Wolf' (a local song) Right through for mischief. All at once she wept Hot tears as girls of six years old might weep, Clinging and clamouring round their mother's lap. And I, (you know my humour, friend of mine,) Drove at his face, one, two! She gathered up Her robes and vanished straightway through the door. "And so I fail to please, false lady mine? Another lies more welcome in thy lap? Go warm that other's heart: he'll say thy tears Are liquid pearls." And as a swallow flies Forth in a hurry, here or there to find A mouthful for her brood among the eaves: From her soft sofa passing-swift she fled Through folding-doors and hall, with random feet: 'The stag had gained his heath': you know the rest. Three weeks, a month, nine days and ten to that, To-day's the eleventh: and 'tis just two months All but two days, since she and I were two. Hence is my beard of more than Thracian growth. Now Wolf is all to her: Wolf enters in At midnight; I am a cypher in her eyes; The poor Megarian, nowhere in the race. All would go right, if I could once unlove: But now, you wot, the rat hath tasted tar. And what may cure a swain at his wit's end I know not: Simus, (true,) a mate of mine, Loved Epichalcus' daughter, and took ship And came home cured. I too will sail the seas. Worse men, it may be better, are afloat, I shall still prove an average man-at-arms.
THYONICHUS. Now may thy love run smoothly, AEschines! But should'st thou really mean a voyage out, The freeman's best paymaster's Ptolemy.
AESCHINES. What is he else?
THYONICHUS. A gentleman: a man Of wit and taste; the top of company; Loyal to ladies; one whose eye is keen For friends, and keener still for enemies. Large in his bounties, he, in kingly sort, Denies a boon to none: but, AEschines, One should not ask too often. This premised, If thou wilt clasp the military cloak O'er thy right shoulder, and with legs astride Await the onward rush of shielded men: Hie thee to Egypt. Age overtakes us all; Our temples first; then on o'er cheek and chin, Slowly and surely, creep the frosts of Time. Up and do somewhat, ere thy limbs are sere.
The Festival of Adonis.
GORGO. Praxinoae in?
PRAXINOAe. Yes, Gorgo dear! At last! That you're here now's a marvel! See to a chair, A cushion, Eunoae!
GORGO. I lack naught.
PRAXINOAe. Sit down.
GORGO. Oh, what a thing is spirit! Here I am, Praxinoae, safe at last from all that crowd And all those chariots—every street a mass Of boots and uniforms! And the road, my dear, Seemed endless—you live now so far away!
PRAXINOAe. This land's-end den—I cannot call it house— My madcap hired to keep us twain apart And stir up strife. 'Twas like him, odious pest!
GORGO. Nay call not, dear, your lord, your Deinon, names To the babe's face. Look how it stares at you! There, baby dear, she never meant Papa! It understands, by'r lady! Dear Papa!
PRAXINOAe. Well, yesterday (that means what day you like) 'Papa' had rouge and hair-powder to buy; He brought back salt! this oaf of six-foot-one!
GORGO. Just such another is that pickpocket My Diocleides. He bought t'other day Six fleeces at seven drachms, his last exploit. What were they? scraps of worn-out pedlar's-bags, Sheer trash.—But put your cloak and mantle on; And we'll to Ptolemy's, the sumptuous king, To see the Adonis. As I hear, the queen Provides us something gorgeous.
PRAXINOAe. Ay, the grand Can do things grandly.
GORGO. When you've seen yourself, What tales you'll have to tell to those who've not. 'Twere time we started!
PRAXINOAe. All time's holiday With idlers! Eunoae, pampered minx, the jug! Set it down here—you cats would sleep all day On cushions—Stir yourself, fetch water, quick! Water's our first want. How she holds the jug! Now, pour—not, cormorant, in that wasteful way— You've drenched my dress, bad luck t'you! There, enough: I have made such toilet as my fates allowed. Now for the key o' the plate-chest. Bring it, quick!
GORGO. My dear, that full pelisse becomes you well. What did it stand you in, straight off the loom?
PRAXINOAe. Don't ask me, Gorgo: two good pounds and more. Then I gave all my mind to trimming it.
GORGO. Well, 'tis a great success.
PRAXINOAe. I think it is. My mantle, Eunoae, and my parasol! Arrange me nicely. Babe, you'll bide at home! Horses would bite you—Boo!—Yes, cry your fill, But we won't have you maimed. Now let's be off. You, Phrygia, take and nurse the tiny thing: Call the dog in: make fast the outer door!
Gods! what a crowd! How, when shall we get past This nuisance, these unending ant-like swarms? Yet, Ptolemy, we owe thee thanks for much Since heaven received thy sire! No miscreant now Creeps Thug-like up, to maul the passer-by. What games men played erewhile—men shaped in crime, Birds of a feather, rascals every one! —We're done for, Gorgo darling—here they are, The Royal horse! Sweet sir, don't trample me! That bay—the savage!—reared up straight on end! Fly, Eunoae, can't you? Doggedly she stands. He'll be his rider's death!—How glad I am My babe's at home.
GORGO. Praxinoae, never mind! See, we're before them now, and they're in line.
PRAXINOAe. There, I'm myself. But from a child I feared Horses, and slimy snakes. But haste we on: A surging multitude is close behind.
GORGO [to Old Lady]. From the palace, mother?
OLD LADY. Ay, child.
GORGO. Is it fair Of access?
OLD LADY. Trying brought the Greeks to Troy. Young ladies, they must try who would succeed.
GORGO. The crone hath said her oracle and gone. Women know all—how Adam married Eve. —Praxinoae, look what crowds are round the door!
PRAXINOAe. Fearful! Your hand, please, Gorgo. Eunoae, you Hold Eutychis—hold tight or you'll be lost. We'll enter in a body—hold us fast! Oh dear, my muslin dress is torn in two, Gorgo, already! Pray, good gentleman, (And happiness be yours) respect my robe!
STRANGER. I could not if I would—nathless I will.
PRAXINOAe. They come in hundreds, and they push like swine.
STRANGER. Lady, take courage: it is all well now.
PRAXINOAe. And now and ever be it well with thee, Sweet man, for shielding us! An honest soul And kindly. Oh! they're smothering Eunoae: Push, coward! That's right! 'All in,' the bridegroom said And locked the door upon himself and bride.
GORGO. Praxinoae, look! Note well this broidery first. How exquisitely fine—too good for earth! Empress Athene, what strange sempstress wrought Such work? What painter painted, realized Such pictures? Just like life they stand or move, Facts and not fancies! What a thing is man! How bright, how lifelike on his silvern couch Lies, with youth's bloom scarce shadowing his cheek, That dear Adonis, lovely e'en in death!
A STRANGER. Bad luck t'you, cease your senseless pigeon's prate! Their brogue is killing—every word a drawl!
GORGO. Where did he spring from? Is our prattle aught To you, Sir? Order your own slaves about: You're ordering Syracusan ladies now!
Corinthians bred (to tell you one fact more) As was Bellerophon: islanders in speech, For Dorians may talk Doric, I presume?
PRAXINOAe. Persephone! none lords it over me, Save one! No scullion's-wage for us from you!
GORGO. Hush, dear. The Argive's daughter's going to sing The Adonis: that accomplished vocalist Who has no rival in "The Sailor's Grave." Observe her attitudinizing now.
Song. Queen, who lov'st Golgi and the Sicel hill And Ida; Aphrodite radiant-eyed; The stealthy-footed Hours from Acheron's rill Brought once again Adonis to thy side How changed in twelve short months! They travel slow, Those precious Hours: we hail their advent still, For blessings do they bring to all below. O Sea-born! thou didst erst, or legend lies, Shed on a woman's soul thy grace benign, And Berenice's dust immortalize. O called by many names, at many a shrine! For thy sweet sake doth Berenice's child (Herself a second Helen) deck with all That's fair, Adonis. On his right are piled Ripe apples fallen from the oak-tree tall; And silver caskets at his left support Toy-gardens, Syrian scents enshrined in gold And alabaster, cakes of every sort That in their ovens the pastrywomen mould, When with white meal they mix all flowers that bloom, Oil-cakes and honey-cakes. There stand portrayed Each bird, each butterfly; and in the gloom Of foliage climbing high, and downward weighed By graceful blossoms, do the young Loves play Like nightingales, and perch on every tree, And flit, to try their wings, from spray to spray. Then see the gold, the ebony! Only see The ivory-carven eagles, bearing up To Zeus the boy who fills his royal cup! Soft as a dream, such tapestry gleams o'erhead As the Milesian's self would gaze on, charmed. But sweet Adonis hath his own sweet bed: Next Aphrodite sleeps the roseate-armed, A bridegroom of eighteen or nineteen years. Kiss the smooth boyish lip—there's no sting there! The bride hath found her own: all bliss be hers! And him at dewy dawn we'll troop to bear Down where the breakers hiss against the shore: There, with dishevelled dress and unbound hair, Bare-bosomed all, our descant wild we'll pour:
"Thou haunt'st, Adonis, earth and heaven in turn, Alone of heroes. Agamemnon ne'er Could compass this, nor Aias stout and stern: Not Hector, eldest-born of her who bare Ten sons, not Patrocles, nor safe-returned From Ilion Pyrrhus, such distinction earned: Nor, elder yet, the Lapithae, the sons Of Pelops and Deucalion; or the crown Of Greece, Pelasgians. Gracious may'st thou be, Adonis, now: pour new-year's blessings down! Right welcome dost thou come, Adonis dear: Come when thou wilt, thou'lt find a welcome here."
GORGO. 'Tis fine, Praxinoae! How I envy her Her learning, and still more her luscious voice! We must go home: my husband's supperless: And, in that state, the man's just vinegar. Don't cross his path when hungry! So farewell, Adonis, and be housed 'mid welfare aye!
The Value of Song.
What fires the Muse's, what the minstrel's lays? Hers some immortal's, ours some hero's praise, Heaven is her theme, as heavenly was her birth: We, of earth earthy, sing the sons of earth. Yet who, of all that see the gray morn rise, Lifts not his latch and hails with eager eyes My Songs, yet sends them guerdonless away? Barefoot and angry homeward journey they, Taunt him who sent them on that idle quest, Then crouch them deep within their empty chest, (When wageless they return, their dismal bed) And hide on their chill knees once more their patient head. Where are those good old times? Who thanks us, who, For our good word? Men list not now to do Great deeds and worthy of the minstrel's verse: Vassals of gain, their hand is on their purse, Their eyes on lucre: ne'er a rusty nail They'll give in kindness; this being aye their tale:—
"Kin before kith; to prosper is my prayer; Poets, we know, are heaven's peculiar care. We've Homer; and what other's worth a thought? I call him chief of bards who costs me naught."
Yet what if all your chests with gold are lined? Is this enjoying wealth? Oh fools and blind! Part on your heart's desire, on minstrels spend Part; and your kindred and your kind befriend: And daily to the gods bid altar-fires ascend. Nor be ye churlish hosts, but glad the heart Of guests with wine, when they must needs depart: And reverence most the priests of sacred song: So, when hell hides you, shall your names live long; Not doomed to wail on Acheron's sunless sands, Like some poor hind, the inward of whose hands The spade hath gnarled and knotted, born to groan, Poor sire's poor offspring, hapless Penury's own!
Their monthly dole erewhile unnumbered thralls Sought in Antiochus', in Aleuas' halls; On to the Scopadae's byres in endless line The calves ran lowing with the horned kine; And, marshalled by the good Creondae's swains Myriads of choice sheep basked on Cranron's plains. Yet had their joyaunce ended, on the day When their sweet spirit dispossessed its clay, To hated Acheron's ample barge resigned. Nameless, their stored-up luxury left behind, With the lorn dead through ages had they lain, Had not a minstrel bade them live again:— Had not in woven words the Ceian sire Holding sweet converse with his full-toned lyre Made even their swift steeds for aye renowned, When from the sacred lists they came home crowned. Forgot were Lycia's chiefs, and Hector's hair Of gold, and Cycnus femininely fair; But that bards bring old battles back to mind. Odysseus—he who roamed amongst mankind A hundred years and more, reached utmost hell Alive, and 'scaped the giant's hideous cell— Had lived and died: Eumaeus and his swine; Philoetius, busy with his herded kine; And great Laertes' self, had passed away, Were not their names preserved in Homer's lay. Through song alone may man true glory taste; The dead man's riches his survivors waste.
But count the waves, with yon gray wind-swept main Borne shoreward: from a red brick wash his stain In some pool's violet depths: 'twill task thee yet To reach the heart on baleful avarice set. To such I say 'Fare well': let theirs be store Of wealth; but let them always crave for more: Horses and mules inferior things I find To the esteem and love of all mankind.
But to what mortal's roof may I repair, I and my Muse, and find a welcome there? I and my Muse: for minstrels fare but ill, Reft of those maids, who know the mightiest's will. The cycle of the years, it flags not yet; In many a chariot many a steed shall sweat: And one, to manhood grown, my lays shall claim, Whose deeds shall rival great Achilles' fame, Who from stout Aias might have won the prize On Simois' plain, where Phrygian Ilus lies. Now, in their sunset home on Libya's heel, Phoenicia's sons unwonted chillness feel: Now, with his targe of willow at his breast, The Syracusan bears his spear in rest, Amongst these Hiero arms him for the war, Eager to fight as warriors fought of yore; The plumes float darkling o'er his helmed brow. O Zeus, the sire most glorious; and O thou, Empress Athene; and thou, damsel fair, Who with thy mother wast decreed to bear Rule o'er rich Corinth, o'er that city of pride Beside whose walls Anapus' waters glide:— May ill winds waft across the Southern sea (Of late a legion, now but two or three,) Far from our isle, our foes; the doom to tell, To wife and child, of those they loved so well; While the old race enjoy once more the lands Spoiled and insulted erst by alien hands!
And fair and fruitful may their cornlands be! Their flocks in thousands bleat upon the lea, Fat and full-fed; their kine, as home they wind, The lagging traveller of his rest remind! With might and main their fallows let them till: Till comes the seedtime, and cicalas trill (Hid from the toilers of the hot midday In the thick leafage) on the topmost spray! O'er shield and spear their webs let spiders spin, And none so much as name the battle-din! Then Hiero's lofty deeds may minstrels bear Beyond the Scythian ocean-main, and where Within those ample walls, with asphalt made Time-proof, Semiramis her empire swayed. I am but a single voice: but many a bard Beside me do those heavenly maids regard: May those all love to sing, 'mid earth's acclaim, Of Sicel Arethuse, and Hiero's fame.
O Graces, royal nurselings, who hold dear The Minyae's city, once the Theban's fear: Unbidden I tarry, whither bidden I fare My Muse my comrade. And be ye too there, Sisters divine! Were ye and song forgot, What grace had earth? With you be aye my lot!
The Praise of Ptolemy.
With Zeus begin, sweet sisters, end with Zeus, When ye would sing the sovereign of the skies: But first among mankind rank Ptolemy; First, last, and midmost; being past compare. Those mighty ones of old, half men half gods, Wrought deeds that shine in many a subtle strain; I, no unpractised minstrel, sing but him; Divinest ears disdain not minstrelsy. But as a woodman sees green Ida rise Pine above pine, and ponders which to fell First of those myriads; even so I pause Where to begin the chapter of his praise: For thousand and ten thousand are the gifts Wherewith high heaven hath graced the kingliest king.
Was not he born to compass noblest ends, Lagus' own son, so soon as he matured Schemes such as ne'er had dawned on meaner minds? Zeus doth esteem him as the blessed gods; In the sire's courts his golden mansion stands. And near him Alexander sits and smiles, The turbaned Persian's dread; and, fronting both, Rises the stedfast adamantine seat Erst fashioned for the bull-slayer Heracles. Who there holds revels with his heavenly mates, And sees, with joy exceeding, children rise On children; for that Zeus exempts from age And death their frames who sprang from Heracles: And Ptolemy, like Alexander, claims From him; his gallant son their common sire. And when, the banquet o'er, the Strong Man wends, Cloyed with rich nectar, home unto his wife, This kinsman hath in charge his cherished shafts And bow; and that his gnarled and knotted club; And both to white-limbed Hebe's bower of bliss Convoy the bearded warrior and his arms.