The Works of Virgil (Dryden)/Pastorals (Dryden)/Book 1

The Works of Virgil (Dryden) by Virgil, translated by John Dryden
The First Pastoral, or Tityrus and Melibœus
Eclogue 1, line 1 "Beneath the Shade which Beechen Boughs diffuse"

Virgil's Pastorals.

The First Pastoral.


Tityrus and Melibœus.


The Occasion of the first Pastoral was this. When Augustus had setled himself in the Roman Empire, that he might reward his Veteran Troops for their past Service, he distributed among 'em all the Lands that lay about Cremona and Mantua: turning out the right Owners for having sided with his Enemies. Virgil was a Sufferer among the rest; who afterwards recover'd his Estate by Mecænas's Intercession, and as an Instance of his Gratitude compos'd the following Pastoral; where he sets out his own Good Fortune in the Person of Tityrus, and the Calamities of his Mantuan Neighbours in the Character of Melibœus.


BEneath the Shade which Beechen Boughs diffuse,

You Tity'rus entertain your Silvan Muse:
Round the wide World in Banishment we rome,
Forc'd from our pleasing Fields and Native Home:

While stretch'd at Ease you sing your happy Loves:5
And Amarillis fills the shady Groves.


These blessings, Friend, a Deity bestow'd:

For never can I deem him less than God.
The tender Firstlings of my Woolly breed
Shall on his holy Altar often bleed.10
He gave my Kine to graze the Flow'ry Plain:
And to my Pipe renew'd the Rural Strain.


I envy not your Fortune, but admire,

That while the raging Sword and wastful Fire
Destroy the wretched Neighbourhood around,15
No Hostile Arms approach your happy ground.
Far diff'rent is my Fate: my feeble Goats
With pains I drive from their forsaken Cotes.
And this you see I scarcely drag along,
Who yeaning on the Rocks has left her Young;20
(The Hope and Promise of my failing Fold:)
My loss by dire Portents the Gods foretold:
For had I not been blind I might have seen
Yon riven Oak, the fairest of the Green,
And the hoarse Raven, on the blasted Bough,25
By croaking from the left presag'd the coming Blow.
But tell me, Tityrus, what Heav'nly Power
Preserv'd your Fortunes in that fatal Hour?


Fool that I was, I thought Imperial Rome

Like Mantua, where on Market-days we come,30
And thether drive our tender Lambs from home.
So Kids and Whelps their Sires and Dams express:
And so the Great I measur'd by the Less.
But Country Towns, compar'd with her, appear
Like Shrubs, when lofty Cypresses are near.35


What great Occasion call'd you hence to Rome?


Freedom, which came at length, tho' slow to come:

Nor did my Search of Liberty begin,
Till my black Hairs were chang'd upon my Chin.
Nor Amarillis wou'd vouchsafe a look,40
Till Galeatea's meaner bonds I broke.
Till then a helpless, hopeless, homely Swain,
I sought not freedom, nor aspir'd to Gain:
Tho' many a Victim from my Folds was bought,
And many a Cheese to Country Markets brought,45
Yet all the little that I got, I spent,
And still return'd as empty as I went.


We stood amaz'd to see your Mistress mourn;

Unknowing that she pin'd for your return:
We wonder'd why she kept her Fruit, so long,50
For whom so late th' ungather'd Apples hung.

But now the Wonder ceases, since I see
She kept them only, Tityrus, for thee.
For thee the bubling Springs appear'd to mourn,
And whisp'ring Pines made Vows for thy return.55


What shou'd I do! while here I was enchain'd,

No glimpse of Godlike Liberty remain'd?
Nor cou'd I hope in any place but there,
To find a God so present to my Pray'r.
There first the Youth of Heav'nly Birth I view'd;60
For whom our Monthly Victims are renew'd.
He heard my Vows, and graciously decreed
My Grounds to be restor'd, my former Flocks to feed.


O Fortunate Old Man! whose Farm remains

For you sufficient, and requites your pains,65
Tho' Rushes overspread the Neighb'ring Plains.
Tho' here the Marshy Grounds approach your Fields,
And there the Soil a stony Harvest yields.
Your teeming Ewes shall no strange Meadows try,
Nor fear a Rott from tainted Company.70
Behold yon bord'ring Fence of Sallow Trees
Is fraught with Flow'rs, the Flow'rs are fraught with Bees:
The buisie Bees with a soft murm'ring Strain
Invite to gentle sleep the lab'ring Swain.
While from the Neighb'ring Rock, with rural Songs,75
The Pruner's Voice the pleasing Dream prolongs;

Stock-Doves and Turtles tell their Am'rous pain,
And from the lofty Elms of Love complain.


Th' Inhabitants of Seas and Skies shall change,

And Fish on shoar and Stags in Air shall range,80
The banish'd Parthian dwell on Arar's brink,
And the blue German shall the Tigris drink:
E'er I, forsaking Gratitude and Truth,
Forget the Figure of that Godlike Youth.


But we must beg our Bread in Climes unknown,85

Beneath the scorching or the freezing Zone.
And some to far Oaxis shall be sold;
Or try the Lybian Heat, or Scythian Cold.
The rest among the Britains be confin'd;
A Race of Men from all the World dis-join'd.90
O must the wretched Exiles ever mourn,
Nor after length of rowling Years return?
Are we condemn'd by Fate's unjust Decree,
No more our Houses and our Homes to see?
Or shall we mount again the Rural Throne,95
And rule the Country Kingdoms, once our own!
Did we for these Barbarians plant and sow,
On these, on these, our happy Fields bestow?
Good Heav'n, what dire Effects from Civil Discord flow!
Now let me graff my Pears, and prune the Vine;100
The Fruit is theirs, the Labour only mine.

Farewel my Pastures, my Paternal Stock,
My fruitful Fields, and my more fruitful Flock!
No more, my Goats, shall I behold you climb
The steepy Cliffs, or crop the flowry Thyme!105
No more, extended in the Grot below,
Shall see you browzing on the Mountain's brow
The prickly Shrubs; and after on the bare,
Lean down the deep Abyss, and hang in Air.109
No more my Sheep shall sip the Morning Dew;
No more my Song shall please the Rural Crue:
Adieu, my tuneful Pipe! and all the World adieu!


This Night, at least, with me forget your Care;

Chesnuts and Curds and Cream shall be your fare:
The Carpet-ground shall be with Leaves o'erspread;115
And Boughs shall weave a Cov'ring for your Head.
For see yon sunny Hill the Shade extends;
And curling Smoke from Cottages ascends.

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