The Works of Virgil (Dryden)/Pastorals (Dryden)/Book 4

Illustration of Pastoral 4, "Sicilian Muse begin a loftier strain!"

The Fourth Pastoral.




The Poet celebrates the Birth-day of Saloninus, the Son of Pollio, born in the Consulship of his Father, after the taking of Salonæ, a City in Dalmatia. Many of the Verses are translated from one of the Sybils, who prophesie of our Saviour's Birth.

SIcilian Muse begin a loftier strain!
Though lowly Shrubs and Trees that shade the Plain,
Delight not all; Sicilian Muse, prepare
To make the vocal Woods deserve a Consul's care.
The last great Age, foretold by sacred Rhymes,5
Renews its finish'd Course, Saturnian times
Rowl round again, and mighty years, begun
From their first Orb, in radiant Circles run.
The base degenerate Iron-off-spring ends;
A golden Progeny from Heav'n descends;10

O chast Lucina speed the Mother's pains,
And haste the glorious Birth; thy own Apollo reigns!
The lovely Boy, with his auspicious Face,
Shall Pollio's Consulship and Triumph grace;
Majestick Months set out with him to their appointed Race.15
The Father banish'd Virtue shall restore,
And Crimes shall threat the guilty world no more.
The Son shall lead the life of Gods, and be
By Gods and Heroes seen, and Gods and Heroes see.
The jarring Nations he in peace shall bind,20
And with paternal Virtues rule Mankind.
Unbidden Earth shall wreathing Ivy bring,
And fragrant Herbs (the promises of Spring)
As her first Off'rings to her Infant King.
The Goats with strutting Dugs shall homeward speed,25
And lowing Herds, secure from Lyons feed.
His Cradle shall with rising Flow'rs be crown'd;
The Serpents Brood shall die: the sacred ground
Shall Weeds and pois'nous Plants refuse to bear,
Each common Bush shall Syrian Roses wear.30
But when Heroick Verse his Youth shall raise,
And form it to Hereditary Praise;
Unlabour'd Harvests shall the Fields adorn,
And cluster'd Grapes shall blush on every Thorn.
The knotted Oaks shall show'rs of Honey weep,35
And through the Matted Grass the liquid Cold shall creep.

Yet, of old Fraud some footsteps shall remain,
The Merchant still shall plough the deep for gain:
Great Cities shall with Walls be compass'd round;
And sharpen'd Shares shall vex the fruitful ground.40
Another Typhis shall new Seas explore,
Another Argos land the Chiefs, upon th' Iberian Shore.
Another Helen other Wars create,
And great Achilles urge the Trojan Fate:
But when to ripen'd Man-hood he shall grow,45
The greedy Sailer shall the Seas forego;
No Keel shall cut the Waves for foreign Ware;
For every Soil shall every Product bear.
The labouring Hind his Oxen shall disjoyn,
No Plow shall hurt the Glebe, no Pruning-hook the Vine:50
Nor Wooll shall in dissembled Colours shine.
But the luxurious Father of the Fold,
With native Purple, or unborrow'd Gold,
Beneath his pompous Fleece shall proudly sweat:55
And under Tyrian Robes the Lamb shall bleat.
The Fates, when they this happy Web have spun,
Shall bless the sacred Clue, and bid it smoothly run.
Mature in years, to ready Honours move,
O of Cœlestial Seed! O foster Son of Jove! 60
See, lab'ring Nature calls thee to sustain
The nodding Frame of Heav'n, and Earth, and Main;
See to their Base restor'd, Earth, Seas, and Air,
And joyful Ages from behind, in crowding Ranks appear.

To sing thy Praise, wou'd Heav'n my breath prolong,
Infusing Spirits worthy such a Song;66
Not Thracian Orpheus should transcend my Layes,
Nor Linus crown'd with never-fading Bayes:
Though each his Heav'nly Parent shou'd inspire;
The Muse instruct the Voice, and Phœbus tune the Lyre.
Shou'd Pan contend in Verse, and thou my Theme,71
Arcadian Judges shou'd their God condemn.
Begin, auspicious Boy, to cast about
Thy Infant Eyes, and with a smile, thy Mother single out;
Thy Mother well deserves that short delight,75
The nauseous Qualms of ten long Months and Travel to requite.
Then smile; the frowning Infant's Doom is read,
No God shall crown the Board, nor Goddess bless the Bed.

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