DAPHNIS. MENALCAS. A 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.
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:--
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
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.
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.
Last updated January 14, 2019