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"Were once inhabited by fauns and nymphs
"Produced beneath their shades, and a rude race
"Of men, the progeny uncouth of elms
"And knotted oaks. They no refinement knew
"Of laws or manners civilized, to yoke
"The steer, with forecast provident to store
"The hoarded grain, or manage what they had,
"But browsed like beasts upon the leafy boughs, 360
"Or fed voracious on their hunted prey.
"An exile from Olympus, and expelled
"His native realm by thunder-bearing Jove,
"First Saturn came. He from the mountains drew
"This herd of men untractable and fierce,
"And gave them laws; and called his hiding-place,
"This growth of forests, Latium. Such the peace
"His land possessed, the golden age was then,
"So famed in story; till by slow degrees
"Far other times, and of far different hue, 370
"Succeeded, thirst of gold and thirst of blood.
"Then came Ausonian bands, and armed hosts
"From Sicily; and Latium often changed
"Her master and her name. At length arose
'' Kings, of whom Tybris of gigantic form
"Was chief; and we Italians since have called
"The river by his name; thus Albula
"(So was the country called in ancient days)
"Was quite forgot. Me from my native land
"An exile, through the dangerous ocean driven, 380
"Resistless fortune and relentless fate
"Placed where thou seest me. Phcebus, and
"The nymph Carmentis, with maternal care
"Attendant on my wanderings, fixed me here."
[Ten lines omitted.]
He said, and showed him the Tarpeian rock, And the rude spot where now the capitol Stands all magnificent and bright with gold, Then overgrown with thorns. And yet even then The swains beheld that sacred scene with awe;
The grove, the rock, inspired religious fear. 390
"This grove (he said) that crowns the lofty top
"Of this fair hill, some deity, we know,
"Inhabits, but what deity we doubt.
"The Arcadians speak of Jupiter himself,
"That they have often seen him, shaking here
"His gloomy aegis, while the thunder-storms
"Came rolling all around him. Turn thine eyes,
"Behold that ruin; those dismantled walls,
"Where once two towns, Janiculum ,
"By Janus this, and that by Saturn built, 400 "Saturnia." Such discourse brought them beneath The roof of poor Evander; thence they saw,
Where now the proud and stately Forum stands, The grazing herds wide scattered o'er the field. Soon as he entered—" Hercules," he said,
"Victorious Hercules, on this threshold trod,
"These walls contained him, humble as they are.
"Dare to despise magnificence, my friend,
"Prove thy divine descent by worth divine,
"Nor view with haughty scorn this mean abode."
So saying, he led /Eneas by the hand, And placed him on a cushion stuffed with leaves, Spread with the skin of a Lybistian bear.
[The Episode of Venus and Vulcan omitted 1
While thus in Lemnos Vulcan was employed.
Awakened by the gentle dawn of day,
And the shrill song of birds beneath the eaves
Of his low mansion, old Evander rose.
His tunic and the sandals on his feet,
And his good sword well girded to his side,
A panther's skin dependent from his left,
And over his right shoulder thrown aslant,
Thus was he clad. Two mastiffs followed him,
His whole retinue and his nightly guard.
The winter night now well-nigh worn away,
The wakeful cock proclaimed approaching day,
When Simulus, poor tenant of a farm
Of narrowest limits, heard the shrill alarm,
Yawned, stretched his limbs, and anxious to provide
Against the pangs of hunger unsupplied,
By slow degrees his tattered bed forsook,
And poking in the dark, explored the nook
Where embers slept with ashes heaped around,
And with burnt finger-ends the treasure found.
It chanced that from a brand beneath his nose,
Sure proof of latent fire, some smoke arose;
When trimming with a pin the incrusted tow,
And stooping it towards the coals below,
He toils, with cheeks distended, to excite
The lingering flame, and gains at length a light.
With prudent heed he spreads his hand before
The quivering lamp, and opes his granary door.
Small was his stock, but taking for the day
A measured stint of twice eight pounds away,
With these his mill he seeks. A shelf at hand,
Fixt in the wall, affords his lamp a stand:Then baring both his arms, a sleeveless coat
He girds, the rough exuviae of a goat;And with a rubber, for that use designed,
Cleansing his mill within, begins to grind:Each hand has its employ; labouring amain,
This turns the winch, while that supplies the grain.
The stone revolving rapidly, now glows,
And the bruised coin a mealy current flows;
While he, to make his heavy labour light.
Tasks oft his left hand to relieve his right;And chants with rudest accent, to beguile
His ceaseless toil, as rude a strain the while.
And now "Dame Cybale, come forth !" he cries;But Cybale, still slumbering, nought replies.
From Afric she, the swain's sole serving-maid,
Whose face and form alike her birth betrayed;
With woolly locks, lips tumid, sable skin,
Wide bosom, udders flaccid, belly thin,
Legs slender, broad and most misshapen feet,
Chapped into chinks, and parched with solar heat.
Such, summoned oft, she came; at his command
Fresh fuel heaped, the sleeping embers fanned,
And made in haste her simmering skillet steam,
Replenished newly from the neighbouring stream.
The labours of the mill performed, a sieve
The mingled flour and bran must next receive,
Which shaken oft, shoots Ceres through refined,
And better dressed, her husks all left behind.
This done, at once his future plain repast,
Unleavened, on a shaven board he cast,
With tepid lymph first largely soaked it all,
Then gathered it with both hands to a ball,
And spreading it again with both hands wide,
With sprinkled salt the stiffened mass supplied;
At length, the stubborn substance, duly wrought,
Takes from his palms impressed the shape it ought,
Becomes an orb, and quartered into shares,
The faithful mark of just division bears.
Last, on his hearth it finds convenient space,
For Cybale before had swept the place,
And there, with tiles and embers overspread,
She leaves it,—reeking in its sultry bed.
Nor Simulus, while Vulcan thus, alone,
His part performed, proves heedless of his own,
But sedulous, not merely to subdue
His hunger, but to please his palate too,
Prepares more savoury food. His chimney-side
Could boast no gammon, salted well, and dried,
And hooked behind him: but sufficient store
Of bundled anise, and a cheese it bore;
A broad round cheese, which, through its centre strung
With a tough broom-twig, in the corner hung;
The prudent hero therefore, with address
And quick despatch, now seeks another mess.
Close to his cottage lay a garden-ground,
With reeds and osiers sparely girt around;
Small was the spot, but liberal to produce,
Nor wanted aught that serves a peasant's use; 80
And sometimes even the rich would borrow thence,
Although its tillage was his sole expense.
For oft, as from his toils abroad he ceased,
Home-bound by weather or some stated feast,
His debt of culture here he duly paid,
And only left the plough to wield the spade.
He knew to give each plant the soil it needs,
To drill the ground, and cover close the seeds;
And could with ease compel the wanton rill
To turn, and wind, obedient to his will. 90
There flourished starwort, and the branching beet,
The sorel acid, and the mallow sweet,
The skirret, and the leek's aspiring kind,
The noxious poppy—quencher of the mind!
Salubrious sequel of a sumptuous board,
The lettuce, and the long huge-bellied gourd;
But these (for none his appetite controlled
With stricter sway) the thrifty rustic sold;
With broom-twigs neatly bound, each kind apart
He bore them ever to the public mart; 100
Whence, laden still, but with a lighter load,
Of cash well earned, he took his homeward road,
Expending seldom, ere he quitted Rome,
His gains, in flesh-meat for a feast at home.
There, at no cost, on onions rank and red,
Or the curled endive's bitter leaf, he fed:
On scallions sliced, or with a sensual gust
On rockets—foul provocatives of lust;
Nor even shunned, with smarting gums, to press
Nasturtium, pungent face-distorting mess! 110
Some such regale, now also in his thought,
With hasty steps his garden-ground he sought:
There delving with his hands, he first displaced
Four plants of garlick, large, and rooted fast;
The tender tops of parsley next he culls,
Then the old rue-bush shudders as he pulls,
And coriander last to these succeeds,
That hangs on slightest threads her trembling seeds.
Placed near his sprightly fire he now demands
The mortar at his sable servant's hands; 120
When stripping all his garlick first, he tore
The exterior coats, and cast them on the floor,
Then cast away with like contempt the skin,
Flimsier concealment of the cloves within.
These searched, and perfect found, he one by one
Rinsed, and disposed within the hollow stone;
Salt added, and a lump of salted cheese,
With his injected herbs he covered these,
And tucking with his left his tunic tight,
And seizing fast the pestle with his right, 130
The garlick bruising first he soon expressed,
And mixed the various juices of the rest.
He grinds, and by degrees his herbs below,
Lost in each other, their own powers forego,
And with the cheese in compound, to the sight
Nor wholly green appear, nor wholly white.
His nostrils oft the forceful fume resent;
He cursed full oft his dinner for its scent,
Or with wry faces, wiping as he spoke
The trickling tears, cried—" Vengeance on the smoke!" 140
The work proceeds: not roughly turns he now
The pestle, but in circles smooth and slow;
With cautious hand that grudges what it spills,
Some drops of olive-oil he next instils;
Then vinegar with caution scarcely less;
And gathering to a ball the medley mess,
Last, with two fingers frugally applied,
Sweeps the small remnant from the mortar's side:
And thus, complete in figure and in kind,
Obtains at length the Salad he designed. 150
And now black Cybale before him stands,
The cake drawn newly glowing in her hands:
He glad receives it, chasing far away
All fears of famine for the passing day;
His legs enclosed in buskins, and his head
In its tough casque of leather, forth he led
And yoked his steers, a dull obedient pair,
Then drove afield, and plunged the pointed share.
June 8, 1799.
FROM OVID. OVID. TRIST. Lib. V. Eleg. Xlt.
Scribis, ut oblectem.
You bid me write to amuse the tedious hours,
And save from withering my poetic powers.
Hard is the task, my friend, for verse should flow
From the free mind, not fettered down by woe.
Restless amidst unceasing tempests tossed,
Whoe'er has cause for sorrow, I have most.