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THE FIRST ECLOGUE blue

spacerThe daughter of Earth, blue wearied of her wee ancient husband, mindful of the Attic lad blue whom she loved to distraction, took the lead in ushering Phoebus’ car out of the Indian Ocean. When Amyntas, roused to wakefulness by joy, perceived night’s lesser stars to depart from the sight of the sun, he dressed and left home for the fields. And while he sat squatting on the bank of a crystal clear brook, squinting to see if he could espy anyone, at length he spoke to himself, or to his flocks alone, or with Lycisca overhearing: blue
spacer“Oh the lucky day that at length brought me sweet verses from Phyllis! Her honeyed screed filled my heart with a breath of nectar, blue this tender heart, lately near worn out with sad love, which had abandoned all hope of life, and which had begun to seek the solace of assured death! That little sheet of paper is so beloved to me after the many delays (for it bore songs in its bosom, near to my heart), which assuredly brought me hope in abundance when I had no hope. It was as a cool stream to a timid stag when, traveling so rapidly, parched by the great heat, having by its exertions left the following hounds far behind, he boldly leaps into its familiar waters. Now, now I shall begin to publish my darling Phyllis’ praises: my highest pleasure comes from them, as I was first love-smitten by her merits. Oh son of Venus, handsome boy, fetch words stolen from the Boeotian blue Muses, while Amyntas sings. Prompt me with verses greater than those about the Peneus-born lass, blue so that Phoebus will feel envy: for Phyllis is fairer than she, just as the lily surpasses the asphodel, mulberries those of the ivy.
spacer “When Phyllis comes out of the fields in the doubtful dark of early dawn, her hair unbound, Tithon’s consort blushes, amazed at her tresses, and hides her head in clouds, And when Phoebus’ horse sees beams on the earth close in nature to his own, he looks back towards the darkling heaven, no knowing whether he is escorting the sun through the clear sky or if it is below, scorching the land with its light, and he would come down to earth, if his tether did not restrain him.
spacer“And soon the pious assembly of heaven-dwellers looks down from the sky at the veins running through her ivory temples, imagining these to be tables which Mulciber blue had fashioned out of ivory when dwelling in the Black Sea, and blue gems gathered from the widespread ocean. Swooping down beneath the lofty clouds, Juno’s messengeress Iris makes a closer inspection: she sees this to be the face of a girl, but in her brows she catches sight of two bows, wholly made of gold, such as are drawn by the goddess of the hunt, or divine Love, or Apollo. She discerns grounds for envy in either feature, and boasts no more of her own varied hue.
spacer“Phyllis has two planets for her twin eyes: one was once Venus, the other Mars. Venus’ revolution causes peace, that of Mars war. Oh how I used to ache when Mars was in the ascendant! But happy I am to live under Venus! After Mars, I prase Venus; after wars, I praise peace.
spacer“Phyllis has cheeks such as Love’s own darling, the fairest Psyche, blue is said to have gained when, making her way back from Pluto’s dusky, cavern, from its pure coffer she let loose for her own face the costly mist which the mistress of Orcus had given her to transport to Venus, the mother of the Graces. A fragrant vapor arising from this cloud wafted pleasant odors, and the stars, her rivals, praised her beauty. But when her thirsty lips touched cool water, the fountains kissed her cheeks greedily, as if they themselves were lips, or if for a second time a love-parched Naiad were about to seize her Hylas beneath the waters. blue
spacer “Phyllis pours forth three balms from her fragrant mouth: blue her voice, with which its modulations bears the music of the turning spheres and the swan who delights the streams with its song; her breath, redolent of myrrh and sweet frankincense, which with its tranquil exhalation emends the noxious air; and her kisses, which I forecast can never lack their blandishments. Oh may it be granted Amyntas to taste them before Jupiter himself steals their fruit from me, deeming them worthy of some god!
spacer“With greedy eye that man admires Phyllis’ bosom, who has never crossed the snowy Alps or seen the haltered swans by whom Venus is drawn through the liquid air in her golden car, surrounded by much yearning as she sinks from the setting sky into the Carpathian Sea, so that deserved honors may be paid her on Cypriot altars.
spacer“Twin crystal apples swell from her bright bosom, bejeweled by rosy paps, and one would think these true models of heaven and earth, if they did not surpass sky and land in their brilliance. They would imitate those words graven on the Pillars of Hercules, NO FARTHER, save that a valley lying between them leads to the shadows of the Elysian waters, which must remain hidden, beneath which arise the joys of eternal springtime.
spacer“Why mention that her teeth are jewels, that she has the noble shoulders of an Andromeda, blue the arms of a Juno, the hands of an Aurora, the feet of that sea-born mother?
spacer“So as to diminish Phyllis’ praises the envious sun races towards the western shores, I shall lead my sheep to their thatched barn, singing of Phyllis as I go.”

THE SECOND ECLOGUE blue

spacerThe Titan had again arisen from the purple waves to bathe his face in heaven’s bright light, and without delay our shepherd, accompanied by his darling girl, and by his flocks, ascended the summit of a steep mountain. And there, after he had seen his cattle spread out along the high slope and eagerly munching the grass, he reclined with his Phyllis beneath a verdant beech, casting great shade with its leafage, and thus he spoke:
spacer“This is the very day which I sought for, shedding tears, with pious prayers and hands outstretched to heaven. Oh venerable day, worthy of a white stone, which joins Phyllis to my side, making my dark times serene with her shining face — a happy girl, won by my heavy exertions! At length, dearest Phyllis, I rejoice like a sailor gaining his longed-for port after his ship, long suffering rapid gales on the foaming seas, driven by the ocean’s furious efforts, has drunk in the deadly water through the joints in its sides, and the mad winds have snatched the vessel, its mast shattered, spars snatched away by the sea; or like a farmer, after he has cast his seed on hard soil and shuddered at the wintry winds, bereft of hope, yet when the war sun’s fiery strength renders the autumn fertile, then he fills his wagon with wheat, clumped together by the tenacious sod, and stores up his crops. Oh most fortunate man, if he appreciates his goods! For Amyntas, Phyllis alone is harbor and harvest.
spacer “So let us clasp hands and pledge the pact that your sweet letter promised, a pact such as no blow of harsh mischance will destroy, blue or the march of days down through the years, jealous of upright beginnings; a pact which, even if the dangling mass of this globe should take a tumble, fleeing its delicate point, or if the whole machinery of the universe should collapse, would nevertheless not be stricken and suffer a shameful fall. Let our minds join together as our hands are linked, let old age be unable to dissolve this sacred union, nor death, nor whatever may be yet more cruel. Oh pretty little hand, rivaled by white marble streaked with rose! Oh cease grasping my sinewy fingers for a while: a sweet weakness has overcome my strength. I am conquered, my Phyllis, I am conquered! My eyes melt in peaceful tears, and if weeping did not tame my fires with its pious dew, the new joys of this flame would consume me now. And yet, oh comely hand, you must persist in delaying me by your clasp. Thus victory has been gained over the vanquished, my true liberty lies in being bound by such a tender restraint. blue While your hand holds mine, a hand whiter than an ancient swan, lighter than the gentle breezes, a gentle thrill pierces my skin, gradually stealing into my warmed veins, and fills me with an unaccustomed sweetness permeating all my limbs. Pleasure snatches me away from cares and draws me into its domain. Just as there is no happiness without you, with you nothing is unhappy. Everything gladly smiles upon our union, as once Vulcan’s consort, Venus, entered the embrace of Mars, brightened by all his brass, blue filling the wide world with strange flashes. Oh with what light the sunny heaven prevents the dark shadows from existing in eternal night, my Phyllis, when it gathers up the fire from your eye! Oh how the tuneful birds vary their song throughout the thickets, mixing their murmurs in the heavens, when you soften the liquid air with your fair glances! Oh what choice ranks are formed by the flowers, when they steal the colors from Phyllis’ face and gather them to their own bosoms! The lily, beloved to Jove’s consort, takes the white; the red is stolen by the roses, sacred to Cyprus’ goddess; and the marigold, so dear to the sun, borrows the gold. In what way it can, each thing greets our love with gladness, putting on a joyous face. The reeling kid bounces over the flowery fields on unsteady legs; the cow amiably seeks out the fierce bull; the tree swells with its quivering leaves, the field with new grass, the vine with the noble grape; rivulets whisper sweetly in the thin sand, an unaccustomed tune. It is you, Phyllis, you who are greeted by earth, sky, streams, plants, and beasts of the field. And while each thing wonders avidly at your beauty, it stares with fixed eyes, unable to get its fill of gazing, yet now most free of its everyday cares. Their spirits grow calm: seeds do not dread the worms, stags the net, plants the heat, birds the lime, crops the beating of the hail. Such times overtake careworn sailors when Halcyon gives birth to her tender young on the chill waters; straightway she abates the wind’s wrath, the current subsides, the west wind’s breath lightly glides over the smooth sea, and Aeolus cages his dire gales so that tranquil waters may delight his progeny. Oh my Phyllis, draw out these days into years, blue from these let a decade arise, centuries from decades, and an age from the centuries, uncountable by any change. Let joys, which often used to mock my sorrows, do the counting, let them grow old in the watching.
spacer“But at length we must arise. With its black veil night now bristles, urging us to head for our cottages.”

THE THIRD ECLOGUE blue

spacerWhen Aurora chased the damp shadows from the sky, and revealed the hilltops with her first light, Amyntas made his way to Phyllis’ oak, blue his footsteps led by Love, and now searched for Phyllis with mind and sight. Straightway, like a second sun for this new day, she arrived, hastening her step so as not to disappoint her lover. Their supple arms joined together in mutual embrace, entwined like vines and ivy with equal tendrils: speechless, they conversed with eyes and gesture, single sentiments enclosed by two breasts. But at length the shepherd broke the deep silence:
spacer“Come now, since we are met at the proper hour, let us sit at our appointed place on the soft grass, let the many leaves hanging from this spreading tree bear witness to the sweet fruit of our solid love.
spacer“How now to begin? How to extol you? Ah, my life, everything is full of your praises. Perhaps I shall be said to have sung the triumphs of Hercules as well, of which nobody has remained silent. Then shall I sing of things lesser than your merits, Phyllis: high things capture the imagination of humble poets. But better for me hold my silence, lest the Attic ear mislike my rude utterances. For you are no rustic, Phyllis. For a long time our tongues have kept our minds concealed. Let deeds take the place of words (the third weapon of Venus). blue Let us feign battles in a peaceful war.
spacer“See, my eye shoots beams at you, so let your eye shoot its beams at me: let heat meet heat and steal the flames. My hand rises to catch yours, let yours rise up to catch mine: under the guise of contention, let each hand confirm its love. My foot seeks battle with yours, let your foot seek to battle against mine: let Phyllis defeat the shepherd, the shepherd defeat Phyllis.
spacer “Oh mighty eyes, oh hand yet stronger, oh foot much more dangerous than eyes, than hand itself! Lightning-wise, you scorch my bones with stealthy fires, though skin goes unharmed. Only Amyntas is conquered, as victor he pursues this nymph alone.
spacer“But at length, after these playful fights, you will want to indulge in sleep, you exhausted little girl, these times cause drowsiness. For the golden sun is now pressing the midmost of its heavenly orbit, and pressing Erigone’s ears of wheat, warming the autumn with its glittering beam. blue Your silvery neck rests on this arm; propped on my breast, your head is plunged in peaceful oblivion, all is safe. No gnats, no hornets, flies, or grasshoppers will harm you with their bite, no bee with its sing, no snake or wasp. If a rainy downpour or the horror of hail should assail you, I shall dispel the black clouds with a secret charm. blue If the wild whistlings of the winds join together, I shall soothe their quarrel with a ready song on my plaintive pipes. And so such great stars know their setting? Does a cloud of mist cover Phyllis’ famous eyes, those wonders of nature? Alas for the sunny day! The dew steals over them, covers them, and Amyntas’ eyes encounter night while Phyllis’ go unseen: for what are shadows, but the absence of true light? Yet, oh draw out your slumber for sweet hours. And Phyllis will be teased by the shadow of my form, enchained for a while by a sleep worthy of Endymion. Meanwhile with wakeful senses I shall admire my Phyllis’ other attributes, while she is not subject to any concealment.
spacer “Now she looks more beautiful than herself, as a new ruddiness paints her milk-white face. A beauty spot adorns her countenance, as Helen too once bore on her visage, as Cynthia wears on hers. Oh, if cosmetics did nothing to assist other women, the boys of Mt. Ida would be chasing my darling, Phyllis would be worshipped as a goddess of heaven! If my truthfulness be doubted, come hither, you crew of Graces, come here, Feronia, blue patroness of the shady grove; let you all study her beauty with keen eyes. See the hair gleaming on her ivory neck, how its roots are covered by no scurf. See her rosy cheeks, the honor of her honest brow, how her breast surpasses the whiteness of the Pyrenees. See her hand, and object of envy for Memnon’s dear mother the dawn: it is whiter than milk, clearer than all crystal. Oh happy me, that Phyllis is most fair!
spacer“Hey, what am I seeing? Is the west wind now seeking Phyllis’ face, stealing kisses with greedy lip, and blowing gentle puffs through her parted hair? blue Indeed, is he preparing a furtive trick beneath her dress? On your naughty wings, rascal, take yourself and your fires to easterly climes. That district befits you, we shall abide beneath the Great Bear, our shores are subject to the north wind. Though he be harsh, yet he is chaster than your soft breeze, and he does not deceive nymphs with his fair countenance. You fill beasts, plants, and men with fructifying seeds, and the tribe of birds, the race of fish. Wicked wind, do you strive to lift a careless girl’s dress and shift? You will pay the forfeit, impious wind. Father Aeolus will enchain you in his vast cave, guilty of evil and deceit. For I shall pour forth prayers at the altar of your sovereign, mixed with justified complaints.
spacer“Fear is more powerful than naughtiness: just now the wicked seducer departed. Shake off your daytime drowse, my Phyllis, and let us now go home. Night comes flying on pitch-black wings.”

THE FOURTH ECLOGUE blue

spacerQuitting again the foamy bower of his host Oceanus, the Titan forced his horses, fetched from their high corral, into their yokes, and put on their painted bridles, when Phyllis, dressed in uncommon finery, home and flocks left behind (for it was time to celebrate the country festivals), blue called Amyntas out of his house. They went to the fields with conjoined hands and eyes, and on the way their ardor stopped their voices, though they understood each other’s meaning thanks to a thousand kisses, as they strove to reveal their feelings by no mean tokens. Finally they came to a cave under a green mountain’s summit, and sat down in exhaustion. Then, with flushing cheeks, Phyllis thus addressed her friend in tranquil tones:
spacer“Come, if you love me at all (for a deep curiosity grips me), tell me what are those mystic dreams blue of your new Muse, dreams about Sidney, suddenly snatched from us by his final fate, blue with which you are so often wont to delight Amaryllis’ears, and which Corydon himself has praised, jealous though he may be. Let Amyntas sing the same to me. If it chance that a single day does not see an end to your work, continue far into the night and the following days: for assuredly I shall never depart until you tell the tale to its ending.” She spoke, and thus the shepherd replied with a happy smile: “Light of my life, I shall tell you truly all that occurred, amidst these wandering breezes I crave to declare the visions sent me by the Muses while I slept. For I am aware that the breeze of so great a reputation, wafting about the resounding shores, is bearing Sydney’s praises to the whole world. He who in life was the glory of our rustic youth, but was killed by an unkind fate, thanks to his virtue has nonetheless increased his heavenly honors. My Phyllis, I make a beginning in disclosing things that are to be recited wearing a lofty buskin; and Phoebus will assist me, coming from your little eyes.

THE DREAM OF AMYNTAS

spacer“When stout Sidney’s noble soul lately made its happy way to the heavenly world, set free before its day and spattered with Spanish gore, the gods’ spacious halls hummed with a gentle tumult and, rejoicing at this novel thing, the souls came in long procession, singing welcome to the newcomer. Before all others came Mars, capped with his gleaming helm, and Apollo, his locks wreathed with green laurel, and both embraced him with loving arms, the one as a bard, the other as a captain. And they both appointed him their comrade among the glittering stars, distinguished by the double honor of Phoebus’ leaf [and...]. blue By means of his herald Mercury, Jupiter straightway bade the celestials to match precious garments to their happy expressions and set their minds on coming feasts, at which this guest, by quaffing the sweet nectar, blue would drink down the seeds of life everlasting.
spacer“With doubtful heart Erycina blue pondered these appointed days, yearning to be seen as fairer than the rest of the goddesses in the sight of the immortals’ assembly. She brooded much in her mind, changing it often, while she frequently had fears lest the grace of her ancient beauty go unlauded, on which wanton Paris’ burning eyes once feed in woody Mt. Ida’s sacred dales, blue when she won the golden apple of the Hesperides by the boy’s judgment. With a silent nod she roused the Plead’s son blue and begged him in humble tones:
spacer “‘Pray go, on light pinions swoop down straightway into the shades of eternal night, the deepest recesses of Tartarus’ realm. And at the lofty tower built for Jove of the Underworld, made of solid marble and fenced with triple walls, blue open the closed gate with your sacred wand; fearlessly enter the dark chambers of Avernus’ Juno. blue Greet her with a honeyed tongue, tell her how, on his lofty throne, Sidney will adorn the stars, the reward for his merits. Tell her then how cups full of godhead are being readied for a feast, be drunk at the tables of Jove; and at the last, that I may seem fairer than the rest of the assembly, say that I alone am asking her aid with humble entreaties. That is, that she send me her rosy box filled with a mist of allure, blue whose vapor will waft towards me, replenishing my faded charms of face and bosom. Come now, cease your delays. And when you industriously pop up your head from Orcus, take care not to return over the heights bordering on heaven. For where my Cyprus lies, that blessed island girded by the Carpathian Sea, I shall await your returning. When you have come there, you will receive no mean reward for your hard work: either kisses eagerly snatched from my lips, or a girlfriend whose whiteness surpasses the snow.’
spacer“Straightway his hand fit golden sandals to his feet, and he parted the clouds. The east and the west winds and Olympus-sent lightning travel on slower wings. First he passed through Taenarum’s gates, blue soon traversed death’s inmost Tartarus, and finally came to the portals of Stygian Dis and the fierce queen’s chamber, gloomy with dark fear, where he discharged his heavenly mandate.
spacer “Meanwhile Cyprus’ fair goddess made her way through the sky’s empty tracks, borne in her golden car pulled by a harnessed swan. Hastening, she returned to the lofty temples of Cyprus, blue reeking with the smoke of incense. For not long ago she had forgetfully left beneath her altars a secret girdle blue wherewith she could command love, and likewise a veil adorned with gold and gems with, which she had once covered her head and tawny hair, and set afire the marrow of warlike Mars, melting it with peaceful love. And now, after the Cypriot goddess had regained these great resources and adorned herself with them, once more she clove the cloudy heights in her swift car. Winged boys flew around and above her, with a part of them floating around her chariot in a dense throng, cheering with varied song: thus in the serene summertime a churning swarm of bees surrounds its sovereign, forming a mass with their raucous buzz, following through gardens sown with flowers, or some grassy glade, or dappled meadows. And when from the sky she suddenly caught sight of the azure sea, she descended from heaven. For she had already been minded to visit the submarine cradle that had given her birth, and to decorate her head with gems that the shining nymphs had gathered on the shore. The blue-gray waves gladly received her Idalian swans on their deep bosom, and of their own volition yawned to expose the sandy golden sea bottom, making a way for her by flowing backwards on either side: the waters signaled their joy with dancing waves, as they greeted Venus, their daughter (they were set in motion by some extraordinary rumor). There is a rock beneath the sea, hard by the Pillars of Hercules, which the quivering water washes with its constant currents, but which does not hinder the flow of the winds; on its steep side there perches the house of the sea gods, threatening to topple, and there the road curves sharply downward, almost down to the world’s abyss, and steeply divides itself in twain.
spacer “The right-hand way leads under the arch of a cavern, blue and there Saturn sits on a golden throne, his drowsy eyes bound fast in a fatal sleep: at Jove’s decree, he is forced to indulge himself in placid slumber, and sleeps long in his handsome dungeon. From here and there the birds of the sky bring him ambrosial meals, whose divine odor the surrounding water spreads to the thin air, filling the neighborhood with a fragrant cloud. Saturn dreams of the innate Ideas of things, their first beginnings, the causes of causes, the seeds of reason, the laws of the Fates and the march of destiny, and the mind of the Thunderer. And whatever this ancient sees while plunged in his deep slumber, Jove brings forth into the bright light of day, in his wonderful ways turning the shadows of things into realities, transforming dreams into true results. A large and noble retinue of demigods surrounds the sleeper, venerating the old god with manifest tokens, as they are mindful of the times gone by when with his just laws he governed all gods and men, filling the centuries with unbroken laughter, and his cornucopia always poured forth. And though his care for these beings sets in motion such impulses that they can foretell future events, Phoebus-wise, yet they are filled with the inspiration of a superior god, since they come from Saturn’s home and strive to reveal what they have seen in holy song. For whenever his eyes grow heavy with Lethe’s pleasant mist, he sees in the shadows the things which are, which were, and which are bound to come: when he surveys such great visions of the world with his peaceful gaze, his heart cannot have its fill of looking at such sweet images of things. But when he is freed from sleep, and returns to the light from his deep night, he sees naught but vain idols and blind madness, burying the joys of pure Mind beneath his bodily senses.
spacer “The left-hand road sends one to Neptune’s pellucid halls. So here, after traversing the long underwater tracts, Venus dismounted her car and, scattering fodder for her celestial swans, removed their warm bridles. And now, with her winged crew in attendance, she gladly entered the awesome cavern, sublime with a hundred columns, huge and imposing. On its holy pillars hung tackle, masts, and prows wrenched from galleons, tablets filled with sailors’ prayers, and the sails of shipwrecks, together with much else consigned to the marine gods by malign destiny. On roof of the vault glittered shells, colored with alternating light and dark green, blue separated by delicate red sandstone, blue tufa, and crystal, and there were branches of coral, as it grew in the sea (though it turned to stone at the touch of the air). blue And finally, his damp floor was golden moss. Cytherea blue had scarcely crossed her threshold, when ancient Tethys blue left her throne of crystal and came to meet her with her hoary consort and a bevy of Nereids, and was the first to speak with a tranquil voice: ‘Pray tell me, fairest daughter of the all-high Thunderer, what cause or what need has brought your boys and yourself through so many clouds, over all these blue expanses, to our green home, eroded by the water’s force, chill, and covered by common seaweed? Are the impious children of the soil driving you heaven-dwellers to eternal war and dire tumults? Or are the ashes of the ancients rising up, so that the Giants’ wrath is menacing our starry fathers and the heaven? blue Or, distraught, do you seek Mulciber beneath these waves?’ She spoke, and gently Erycina blue repled in sweet tones: ‘Neither the ashes of the snake-foot Giants, long buried in death, nor Earth’s new children, brothers swearing to abolish heaven with avenging arms, force me to visit your chill realm. No fear drives me, no concern for my hiding husband (he does not even displease Juno nowadays). blue I am brought here by my own free counsels and will, so that, if my wishes prevail with you, I might shine with gems gathered from the far-flung sea, that my beauty, adorned by the Nereids’ several gifts, might outshine Phoebus’ star with its radiance. Of a surety, I shall never be ashamed to recall this, nor shall I be ungrateful to the maritime gods.’
spacer“Scarce had she finished, when Tethys the Titaness gently took her by the hand and sat her on a green chair, placing a dry tapestry under her snowy feet; and straightway she bade the nymphs her handmaidens to search on every shore for gleaming stones for Venus. With scarce any delay, they hastened as they were bidden, traveling at a run. Three thousand ocean nymphs vied to cast themselves into the water, its body stricken by their open hands when they stroked their arms in swimming, as they eagerly traversed the waters in sundry direction, gleaming beneath the waves like lilies under glass.
spacer “Meanwhile they whiled away the intervening hours in converse, Jove’s golden daughter and Thethys and Oceanus, those mother and father of the gods, Athamas’ son Palaemon, blue Thetis, truthful Nereus, Glaucus with his two forms, blue and all the spirits who govern the azure expanse. Neptune recalled Vulcan’s bitter fall when, thrown out of shining heaven, he fell headlong into the lap of the sea, under the soft water tearfully reproaching his parent’s hatred and wrath, secretly nursed in Eurynome’s sweet arms. Phorcus added how many gifts he forged in the years that followed, while long hidden in the ocean’s caves, gifts of solid silver ingots and gold, taken from a mine, which he gave to the underwater gods: a chariot for Tithon, to which the moon’s car must defer, hewn out of ice frozen solid; for Triton, conches of gleaming brass, with which he might stand on the shore taming the savage fish and alluring the satyrs and painted wood-nymphs into the brine; chased vials for Doris, a crown for the Carpathian seer; and precious necklaces for many a nymph. While in their calm talk they recalled such things, fixing their eyes on their guest’s fair countenance, praising Vulcan to Venus, Ino, lately splashed with divinity, led the wanton Loves through the caves, the shadow homes and glassy recesses, showing them the wealth of the sea, its rocky dominion; showing the effigies of its gods, the familiar images that filled the place with majesty and sacred terror.
spacer “But behold, Hyperion’s son hid his exhausted horses in western waters, land and air left behind, and splashed the shimmering waters with his radiant light. And now Doris’ daughters came home in the twilight, and meekly presented Venus with the treasures they had gathered, as when ants see the onset of night with its cool shadows and happily fill the nest of their birth with their various loads, some bearing dry grass on their tiny shoulders, some filling their mouths with grain parched by long sunshine, while others drag desiccated bits of wood and grains of soil, and by their heavy toil they all heap what they have brought inside their hidden chambers. First Thoe bowed her head, bent her knee, and presented the stone she had just now picked from Cyprus’ shores, reflecting the sky’s color in its every facet, only to be cut by wheels made of Lemnos’ adamant. blue Next Amalthea humbly offered a green emerald found on a Libyan beach: Nero’s was no larger, blue through which he used to watch men fighting with drawn swords, to the admiration of all the amphitheater. Then appeared Glauce, Thalia, and Cymodoce, and gave her presents which they had long ago discovered in the high Cyclades, washed by Aegean currents: Glauce gave eaglestone, by whose virtue pregnant wombs find relief; blue fair Thalia brought beryl, shooting rays from its cones; gentle Cymodoce bore agate, such as Pyrrhus is said to have had, in which shone the living image of the god touching his lyre, and of the Muses enhanced by their emblems. Spio, Proto, Ianira, and Dexamene brought stones excavated from eastern Ganges’ warm sands, and gave them to mother Erycina: Spio a topaz, full of golden light; Proto a sardonyx, red and cloudy; Ianira a ruby-like sapphire; and pretty Dexamine a carbuncle, blue pouring forth fire from its shining mass. And lastly Galataea gave the goddess pearls strung on a small necklace. Galataea, returned from Sicilian banks, but sadder than her companions in the bevy, and with tear-stained cheeks, offered her gifts, gifts sought on Acis’ bank — Acis’, to whose piping she once sang, Acis’ into whose embrace she used to hasten, blue Acis’, alas, taken away by a savage rival.
spacer “Amathuntia, blue pleased by the nymph’s gifts, by how she bore herself like the rosy rising of the dawn, made ready to go to her beloved Cyprus, recrossing water. For the messenger despatched to the citadel of Stygian Juno, and that long hoped-for cloud, came back to her mind. So now, having bid the gods of the sea farewell with looks and kindly words, she left them, and sweet Cupid, mounting her car, harnessed his mother’s swans and drove them with their unmoving wings over the watery highways. The Nereids, a handsome company, escorted Love, eagerly paving his way; roaming over the deep, they frolicked before him. The sea did not swell because of Aeolus’ whistling, nothing unfriendly was breathed forth by Jove as Venus drove through the gentle waves, her countenance calming sea and sky. Crysaetes took a stone from the sea bottom and tossed it at Cyane, but not in anger. She in turn dived to avoid being hit and seized unsuspecting Hale by the ankles, pulling her under the water, as their fellow nymphs giggled round about. Ligaea floated on the surface, face down, and used her fingers to cover herself with her native waves, lest she naughtily feed the eyes of onlooking merrymakers. Cymothoe twisted herself in spirals. Idya lashed out at the current with alternate strokes of hands and feet. Amphinome swam ahead, linking thumbs and raising her hands skyward, while with her right hand comely Pherusia grasped her left foot, and swept over the sea’s azure expanse. While the wave-dwelling nymphs plowed the main with their various styles of swimming, making gentle waves with their girlish pranks, mother Venus quickly caught sight of the Arcadian blue on the Cypriot shore; rejoicing in her mind, she gave thanks to the girls, and sent them back to their watery caves.
spacer “And now the winged messenger humbly handed her the cosmetic box, filled with a thousand kinds of allure; he related the eagerness with which Dis’ consort obliged Venus, and also his perilous toils in her grim realms. The goddess opened the chest, receiving the cloud’s exhalation on face and breast, and consulted the mirror she chanced to be carrying. And when she saw that she was fairer than her usual self, she said, ‘at no time shall I grow unmindful of this honor,’ interspersing her words with sweet kisses. Straightway in her car she mounted Olympus, and Cyllene’s son followed with the Loves.
spacer“That day shone forth, which heaven’s sovereign had appointed for the genial feast. All the gods rapidly made their appearance at the banquet, lit by many a star, and in their long procession they reclined at the tables, wreathed in gladness. And Sidney’s blessed soul took his seat among the cheering gods, by Jove’s decree.
spacer“Then thus spoke the all-powerful: ‘Give ear, heaven-dwellers, with open mind. Let this our solemn time of feasting be dedicated to him alone to whom we have consecrated this feast; let us devise fit honors. Let us feed him on ambrosia and sweet nectar, until this heavenly fare purges him wholly of his earthly dross. Then he will change into a great star. For Sidney’s ripe virtue has earned him heaven.’
spacer “All agreed, and they filled this British bard and captain with divine fare and convivial talk, vying to add new gifts as their rewards. Juno toasted him with bumpers of true life; Pallas inspired him with gifts of mind and renewed senses; Apollo wreathed his head with beams of light; Mercury gave him a lyre for his fingers, and eloquence tinged with everlasting sweetness for his mouth; Cybele have him godhead, and Mars unending strength. The mother of the Loves caught sight of him and flushed; forgetful of Mars, and of her smith, she wound her milk-white arms around Sidney’s neck and kissed his cheeks, eyes, and lips. The entire company of gods smiled at her, clinging to him, until the high-thundering father ordered the tables cleared, to quell his daughter’s passion, and said these things to the gods:
spacer “‘Enough of feasting, now the final reward will be given Sidney for his merits, this one glory remains. There is a new star, as perhaps you recall, which I have already placed near Cassiopeia’s bright chair, set in the outermost sphere, an embarrassment to the astrological smatterers, a source of terror to the guilty. And while it wheels about its own fixed center, blue it showers sparks on that people which dwells beneath the North Star. A white pallor tinges it, just as it does Venus’ planet; just as it is brighter, so it is larger than any fixed star, reckoned among the propitious heavenly bodies. Our guest will govern this star, for thus the Fates will it, and, shed of his mortal name, he will be called Divine Astrophilus blue by us and by all the world. He will receive the prayers of soldiers and unhappy bards, whom he always holds dear, being most dear to them. He shall defend his nation’s hearth, shedding his wholesome light on the bosom of august Elisa.’
spacer“When he had finished these words, Jupiter surged up from his golden throne and, accompanied by the entire assembly of the gods, escorted Divine Astrophil to the height of his shining star, and bade him reign there for eternity.
spacer“Behold, my Phyllis, Phoebus has brought this fair day to an end, reaching the western waves with his declining light, at which time our dreams must have their endings. And so let it please us to go home from this chill rock.”

THE FIFTH ECLOGUE blue

spacerWhen the crested cock crowed his new signals of the dawning, and Phoebus brought back his horses from waters made yellow with gold, the same color as himself, our shepherd went out to the green lawns with Phyllis, and they reclined beneath a tall holm-oak, while Lycisca blue guarded their flocks from the cliffs. With mutual gazes they stoked new fires, filling their eyes with sweet dew, their mouths with pleasant smiles, liking hands with hands, until he fervidly loosened the reins on his tongue to honor his girl:
spacer“Oh the marvels in you at which I stand amazed, Phyllis! When I see your hair, excellent but not done with any artifice; your wide brow with its kindly expanse; your eyebrows, bent into bows; your eye, better than a star; your straight nose; your rosy little cheeks; your lips, gleaming like gold; blue your milky neck; those two gleaming globes beneath your snowy breast; your shining arms; your fingers, worthy of Diana, and feet of marble. And though the rest be concealed under a decent gown, as the sun is hidden by clouds, they nevertheless put me in such a frame of mind that I am obliged to expound the manifest glories of the fair sex upon my rustic reed.
spacer “What has nature given us suffering mortals better than the tribe of women? Nothing more splendid exists between the two poles, or more fit to civilize the society of menfolk, to relieve the burden of cares from our troubled spirits, and to make this a heaven on earth. Perhaps this is why the ruler of heaven has often abandoned the stars, and come down by himself to the secret shadows of groves to set country girls aflame. Now the report has run abroad in this immense world, how he cheated unsuspecting Europa in the guise of a gleaming bull, and how he bore her, perched on his back, to Dictys’ dear shores; how he embraced Semele in love; how he enfolded Asterie blue in birdlike wings; and by what wiles he deceived Leda as a swan. Then too, using a satyr’s name he filled Antiope’s blue fertile womb with twin boys, and engendered by a Theban consort blue a son who was to carry Olympus (a double night’s work). Though her father guarded her in vain, turning himself into a costly rain he sought out Danae, blue locked in her tower, and out of a tender virgin he mad her the solicitous mother of a hero destined to conquer the cruel Medusa’s face, blue and to give his Andromeda life and the sky. blue Disguised as fire, he planted two sons in Aegina’s blue womb, lest the help and hand of a second judge continue to be wanting for dark Orcus. He tricked an Arcadian girl blue with a false quiver and appearance of Diana, Mnemosyne blue as a shepherd, Ceres as a serpent, when Jove’s great concern was to service the ladies, and enjoy their embraces in pleasurable pacts.
spacer “And indeed the rest of the divine company felt the same urge: admiring earthly beauty, they neglected their godhead and put on human forms. Neptune’s wits were stolen by a girl from Aeolia, when he chose to change himself into a fierce bull; when Elatus’ daughter Caenis blue was transformed at her wish and dwelt on the warm sands rather than in a soft bed; when he became a winged horse and seduced Medusa; when as a horse he deceived Ceres, Melantho as a fish; blue when he seemed a ram to this girl, and Enipeus to that one. blue
spacer“Furthermore, Phoebus’ light never shed itself more lavishly than when he broadcast himself and his misdeeds throughout the world. Adopting the form of her nurse Eurynome, blue he visited the fair Leucothea; taking on the guise of a hag, he violated Chione in her own chamber; blue and cheated Isse blue by wearing the look of a poor shepherd.
spacer“Liber, too, transformed himself into a grape-cluster, blue to be able to enjoy the embrace of the maiden Icaria, stealthily misleading her as she snatched at the grapes. And Saturn is said have assumed the form of a mighty stallion, to treacherously fill Ocean’s daughter with double-shaped Chiron. blue The lord of dark Avernus abducted Ceres’ little daughter blue while she was playing on the soft grass, though she was not intended for a robber-husband, nor meant to be caged in a dark chamber.
spacer “Why should I mention the satyrs and those rustic gods, the Fauns, who burned so much and so often with human heat? Or that Boreas caught great fire from Eumolpus’ daughter Orithyia, blue though he lately been chill?
spacer“Such power and glory resides in womanly beauty that hard flint itself, could it but see, would take fire and grow warm with its sweet flame. Woman’s face is the nearest thing to heaven’s inhabitants; by her stealthy power she sets men’s marrow ablaze, nor lets their minds remain uncouth; schooled by many a year, at length aware of herself and her allure, she hopes for suitors and expects her deserved honor. Not otherwise, a gem harvested in the Indian Ocean sheds its little bright rays, rivaling the radiant sun; enhancing its owner by its unfathomable virtue, it is sought by all, but sold for no sum.
spacer“If Amyntas were to measure himself by Jove’s example, Phyllis, how would he go wrong? Does it hurt to have gods as models for our sinning, loosening virginal girdles? But hey, don’t wrinkle your brow. You are better than those nymphs, and I chaster than those gods.
spacer“But see how night urges us to return to our accustomed cottage.”

THE SIXTH ECLOGUE blue

spacerWhen the daughters of Jupiter and Themis saw the stars of night on the wane, they flung open the double doors of shining Olympus, and the shepherd led his Phyllis, together with his flocks, to the high crests of his craggy mountain. And when they had taken their rest in their accustomed haunts, he sweetly addressed his darling thus:
spacer“Oh what god has placed you before my eyes, most elegant girl? A girl whom Juno’s gravity joined to Dione’s beauty, not to mention Minerva’s arts, prove to surpass all human offspring?” As he was about to say more, she interrupted:
spacer“You may omit my praises, and equally you may take from your wallet those figures made for a chessboard, which your hand recently wrought with skill, which, though they were but images in boxwood, nevertheless are said to represent the battles of Dis and Jove, and to express no mean images the white forces of heaven and the black ones of Erebus. Let it not shame you to have had my eyes as a witness of your noble work, nor let rewards be lacking for kindness: see, I bestow on you three kisses [***]. blue Oh me.”
spacerAnswered the shepherd, “A very blessed payment, sweeter than ambrosia and Apollo’s panacea. And now, my Phyllis, I shall gladly comply with your wishes. So take care that your ears faithfully preserve the song sung for them, nor let go flying idly to the winds the wonderful things dictated by the holy Muse, which I am about to repeat. I shall sing the images of the realities lurking behind these things themselves.
spacer “Once upon a time, the day of Elisa’s birth had no sooner dawned before the striving stars conjoined their opposing virtues in peaceful harmony, blue and each star in its novel aspect promised a golden era in the coming age. The lord of dark Avernus saw and waxed envious, and straightway commanded an assembly of his light-shunning subjects at his royal court; a trumpet issued the dire signal, and forthwith all appeared, ready in spirit and weaponry, and the Stygian father thus began to speak:
spacer “‘It is assured, comrades, and you cannot fail to remember, how this gloomy prison was assigned to us against our will in a lottery, blue when the sea was given to my brother Neptune, and the home of the gods to the most worthy Jove. We are confined in these narrow and lightless realms, though what they own is bright and immense; and yet by destiny’s decree they do not suffer our souls to leave these caverns, but both my brothers rejoice in the spoils they have stolen from me. Ino in her mid-ocean and her companion Palaemon are both given the honor of godhead lest they enter Tartarus; Hercules and Perseus dwell in heaven. blue And now the ruler of Olympus is decided on stirring up another quarrel with Orcus, by introducing a heavenly nymph into the realm of mortals, bidding her enjoy a happy reign, girded by divine ocean-dwellers assuming the appearance of a fleet. blue So, while enlarging the beings of heaven, is she to divert such multitudes from my world? My ultimate hope resides in arms, my spirit urges me to employ force and expel my careless brother from heaven. Light will obey me, and darkness him.’
spacer “Straightway he brought himself and his princes into the chill region of the air and disposed them in a double row. In the first rank Dis and Proserpina blue occupied the midmost positions, while Cerberus flew ahead of Pluto and Ate before the queen. On either hand a mitered priest offered advice, Aeacus on this side, Minos on that, blue and Incubus went before the one and Sleep before the other. Diomedes clung to the side of one of the bishops, mounted on his black horse, and Nemesis strode before this rider, armed with her savage scourges. At the other’s side Achilles steered his night-black steed, fiercely pressing the back of his Myrmidon friend. Two battlements occupied the extremities, blue one of Death, entrusted to the loyal care of Megaera, and the other that of the Parcae, and the maiden Cotyto blue stood before its gates, infected by black poisons.
spacer “Meanwhile Jupiter saw conspiracies and battles in the making, and yearned to join in an equal fight, and so he gathered dwellers of heaven to the same number as he espied this enemies and, in the same order as the black were approaching, thus he disposed his white. He ordered that Caesar stand guard before the citadel of Mars, blue and that stormy Orion attend the tower of Pallas. Next he bade Hercules guard Hebe’s fair shoulder and back, and Perseus that of Andromeda, bluethough both were to perform the office of knights. Adorning Mercury with vestments and Phoebus with a tiara, he placed Mirth before Mercury and Love before Phoebus. And finally he held the middle of the line, escorting Juno, blue and he himself trod on Ganymedes’ heels, she on those of Iris.
spacer“And now the twin arrays were visible in the liquid air, and the kings were beginning to mingle in fraternal strife, when of a sudden Cerberus, who had until now separated Dis from his foe, sprang forth and began to provoke the battle. Immediately the Phrygian boy came to meet the rabid dog and tossed him a morsel drugged with meal by way of food. blue Next the whole company hurled themselves from their positions to join the fray, and they drenched the heavenly battlefields with their blood until Jupiter, now burning with wrath, used his blazing lightning to thrust his hateful brother and his black populace back into their habitual shadows.
spacer“My models represent these battle-lines. But lo, the sun has disappeared into the ocean. I’ll tell you the rest tomorrow, Phyllis.”

THE SEVENTH ECLOGUE blue

spacerBreathed upon by Aurora’s shining horses, our horizon once more grew pale, when Phyllis with her shepherd, and the shepherd with his Phyllis, embracing each other, raced to the peak of a shady mountain, where a fountain, bright with clear water, overleapt the low margin of its mossy rim and watered the fields below with a downhill stream. And there, propped up on a soft hillock fed by the nearby water, they thought upon sweet love. And after much kissing thus spoke Amyntas:
spacer“Why not encircle my temples with Venus’ myrtle, Phyllis? Or why is the glory of your head, that golden sun, not fragrant with the perfume of the Orontes? These are times to be given over to my rejoicing and your triumph, for we are now thrice, even four times blessed. Our harvest-time is at hand, blue after all our sufferings: let us celebrate the honor of this festive day. In praise of Venus, in praise of sweet Love, let us sing a responsive song to my gentle piping. Behold, armed Cupid is sitting right in your little eyes, cocking an eager ear to our words. Oh, lest he grow wrathy, let us pay him well-earned praises with our grateful murmurs. Here, here by these limpid waters and echoing rock let us build our altars, heaped with greenery, giving offerings of roses and the incense of Araby. blue For who torments my heart with gentle flames, teaching me to forget the uncouth ways of the countryside and pursue lofty aspirations, if not you, handsome Cupid? Who has taught me to lead the nimble dances, make waxen Pan-pipes, and drink from ponds on the twin mountain-peaks, if not you, most kindly god? Who has taught me to mingle tears with laughter, add laughter to my tears, and prayers to my groans, groaning to my little prayers, unless it was you, little quiver-bearing boy? Who taught me to sway Phyllis, far surpassing the other nymphs, by my dutifulness, and to enjoy the pleasures of this blessed life, if not you, sweetest of the Loves.?
spacer “Phyllis, why are you not helping me build this grassy altar? Oh bring your quick hands, bring violets, bring prayers. Alas, too late! For the lad has shot his missiles from your eyes at my lips, as your delays arouse his anger. For since he sees a single heart beating in the two of us, he shoots at me in my innocence, so that you will be touched by my suffering. Oh Phyllis, pray remove my wound and your pain with a hundred kisses: that’s the only cure. You giggle? Do you think I am complaining of an imaginary shrt, and that no divinity resides in your eyes? Look in the fountain’s water, so that your own eyes can see the god in themselves, ruling his kingdom most firmly. Oh, but rather keep away from the crystal waters, lest perhaps the god shoot his weapons at you too, by means of your eyes. blue The beauty of Narcissus blue perished when he imbibed love through his own eyes: because water is a soft thing, it reflects beams unbroken; they are powerful, being direct. That water will serve to illustrate my point, which drew Thyodamas’ lad into its stream.”
spacerTo which girl responded, “Darling, give me your lips, you will be healed. Now all the irritation of your swollen wound will be assuaged by a hundred kisses. But afterwards I shall close my eyes, lest the winged boy from Mt. Ida rage at you some more.” But Amyntas besought her with a gentle voice:
spacer “Let it not be, Phyllis, that I am deprived of your eyes: rather, let day go without its sun, the night without its stars, for your light brightens the light and the dark shadows. Let my lips be pierced by constant arrows: it is pleasant to live so that your lips remove my pain with constant kisses, thus it is sweet to die. When Amyntas reclines with you on this grassy couch, watching your fair eyes, and your mouth as you speak, what mortal is happier than me alone? The man whose hound pursues the timid hare by its scent? blue Or he who spreads his snares for birds, or his nets for stags? They chase after uncertain things, Amyntas pursues the sure. Or the man who holds public office? Cares always plague him, while Amyntas is always at play. Or the man who runs off in his fragile boat to the rich Indies? He fears rocks, land, and winds, while Amyntas lives in security. Or the man who amasses great money from interest, or whose enthusiasm is for feeding his belly? Both wither, the one by disease, the other by dread; Amyntas is healthy, and at peace. Or the man who follows the drum, rejoicing in battle? He has bloody hands; Amyntas’ are clean. Or the man who engages in courtroom wrangling? He speaks with a hired tongue, Amyntas says what he thinks. The physician? Or he who shakes the sacred pulpit? Offering much sound advice twice over, the preacher does little in accordance with the right. The other kills with impunity; Amyntas shudders at them both. Or he who fawns upon princes, the courtier resplendent in his scarlet? He encounters envious tongues and hard storms, while Amyntas is ignorant of the bite of unbecoming jealousy. Or he who wields a scepter, and dictates laws to his humble subjects? If he be pious, he is a slave to his people; if not, he hates them. Amyntas neither hates nor serves any people. Oh what mortal, what man is happier than me alone?
spacer“But see, the sun has hidden itself in western waters, Phyllis. Let us lead our double flock to the barns.”

THE EIGHTH ECLOGUE blue

spacerPhoebus had lit the horizon with his shining gold, when Phyllis scattered her tender lambs in the empty valleys, and Amyntas interspersed his yearling sheep, he who honored Phyllis alone, he who was alone honored by Phyllis. And after faithful Amyntas sat down with his girl on the unmown grass, under the cover of a spreading ash, he said such things as these: “Once resounding Echo heard men’s words in these dales and gave her answers: by loud shouting I want to make the girl transform what I say, unless perchance she has retired to some high ridge. AM. Pray attend, daughter of Juno, let us now engage in playful talk. ECHO Let us walk. blue AM. Into the woods? You’ll find me there tomorrow, pretty little godling. EC. Coming? AM. I’ll come with my Phyllis, to whom I am dear, and to whom my love I vow. EC. The sow. AM. You value her so cheap, when she is so dear to me? She is the fairest flower in our plot. EC. She’s not. AM. I’m no Narcissus, I am praising Phyllis. Nor am I jealous of her ascendency. EC. I see. AM. So what folly makes you slander my nymph’s reputation? She is so adorable. EC. Bile. AM. So take two hundred drinks of bile. Let there be praises of my girl throughout all the countryside. EC. Far and wide. AM. For she is full of wit, full of celestial virtue and novel splendor’s glare. EC. I’m aware. AM. Should Phyllis die, what a heap of sorrow to you would belong? EC. Swan song. AM. What makes you love my darling creature? EC. Her nature. AM. Oh true, but she has Minerva’s artful attributes. EC. Beyond dispute. AM. She has the comely face of Venus. EC. Keenness. AM. Oh sonorous maiden, pray say no more about her fiery eye. EC. Why? AM. Alas, when first, unaware, by her brilliance I burned unhappily... EC. Happily. AM. Now, when thrice or four times over she has removed the things most tedious in savage love’s affrays... EC. Delays. AM. But will anyone live more happily than I, when I have taken Phyllis as my mate? EC. Too late. AM. Indeed, will a second full moon its globe uncover... EC. It will take cover. AM. ...before she comes into my arms as a bride? EC. She’ll not abide. AM. Where? Or what will make her leave? EC. Quarrels, I believe. AM. Will her mother grow angry at me and take her away, or will her dad? EC. Too bad. AM. Will fair Phyllis die? EC. Aye. AM. Tell me pray, is she about to forsake our love. EC. She will remove. AM. So you think I am to be deprived of such a sun’s bright light? EC. Too right. AM. Lying and chattering prophetess, take yourself off to the forest, a good destiny I shall have. EC. I’ll take my leave. AM. May you go hang, along with your lunacy, madwoman.
spacer “Come tell me, little honey-drop, my hope, my sweet little eye, will a baleful fate snatch you from me, or me from you? Ah holy gods, mother Venus, playful Cupid, and you too, Juno, patroness of marriage, avert this evil from us! What would Avernus gain, if it were to swallow our souls in its greedy maw before their time? Our planting has not yet thrust up its green shoots, and it is the height of impiety to put the sickle to unripe crops. But Jupiter in his fairness directs our destiny. So, pretty one, regain your fearless spirits, and let it be our pleasure to spend our days at play. Everything rejoices along with us, and everything welcomes our sportiveness as best it can: the Titan with unusual sunshine, the sky with its dew, the air with little puffs of breeze, the grove with its dancing leaves, the grass with its verdure, our sheep with their bleating, streams with plashing bubbles, birds with their noisy chatter, kidlings with their frisking, wasps with their heavy buzz, flies with their lighter murmuring, the frog with its croak, gnats with their buzzing dance, harmless snakes with their hiss, kine with their lowing. Why list them all? The orchards resound with cicadas; and if these have increased the number of their segments, nevertheless the land of Boeotia once called them the Hyantes, blue when they had not yet lost their human form. They lived in happiness, being farmers dwelling in valleys overlooked by the twin peaks of the sacred mountain. blue But when they chanced to hear the Pierian sisters hard by Phocis’ abundant stream, they were so moved by love, and by the learned Muses’ peaceful music, that they tarried for whole months by Helicon’s waters. At length they came to annoy Phoebus and the Muses with their own unschooled song, forgetful of their lot, and of their fields, which needed tilling. But when winter raged with its snowy south wind, they retreated to their huts, driven off the high hill by cold. And when they wished to assuage their urgent hunger with a morsel, they perceived that Ceres’ gift was wanting from the countryside, nor were their fields laden with crops. What to do? They went into mourning, and while their zeal for eating raged on they remembered their longing, and regretted having followed the Muses. But the Muses came to the aid of these poor farmers, and did not allow them to perish, by changing their shape at the point of death. Everyone’s lips grew into thick skin, they used their mouths no more. Pipes hung from their breasts, capable of making sound, and of licking up the dew; at the same time their arms and legs acquired knotty joints, their hips grew unbending, their spines were encased in carapaces. In their ancient way, they sing and dance about during the warm months, but when the cold returns they go back to their caves: that they would sing all the more readily, the nymphs named them cicadas. But hey, what about me? This fable is aimed at poets!
spacer“The sun is hidden by the sea, Phyllis, let us go find our cottage.”

Finis

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