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    Eclogue IX

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    Chapter 9
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    LYCIDAS--MOERIS

    LYCIDAS
    Say whither, Moeris?- Make you for the town,
    Or on what errand bent?

    MOERIS

    O Lycidas,
    We have lived to see, what never yet we feared,
    An interloper own our little farm,
    And say, "Be off, you former husbandmen!
    These fields are mine." Now, cowed and out of heart,
    Since Fortune turns the whole world upside down,
    We are taking him- ill luck go with the same!-'
    These kids you see.

    LYCIDAS

    But surely I had heard
    That where the hills first draw from off the plain,
    And the high ridge with gentle slope descends,
    Down to the brook-side and the broken crests
    Of yonder veteran beeches, all the land
    Was by the songs of your Menalcas saved.

    MOERIS
    Heard it you had, and so the rumour ran,
    But 'mid the clash of arms, my Lycidas,
    Our songs avail no more than, as 'tis said,
    Doves of Dodona when an eagle comes.
    Nay, had I not, from hollow ilex-bole
    Warned by a raven on the left, cut short
    The rising feud, nor I, your Moeris here,
    No, nor Menalcas, were alive to-day.

    LYCIDAS
    Alack! could any of so foul a crime
    Be guilty? Ah! how nearly, thyself,
    Reft was the solace that we had in thee,
    Menalcas! Who then of the Nymphs had sung,
    Or who with flowering herbs bestrewn the ground,
    And o'er the fountains drawn a leafy veil?-
    Who sung the stave I filched from you that day
    To Amaryllis wending, our hearts' joy?-
    "While I am gone, 'tis but a little way,
    Feed, Tityrus, my goats, and, having fed,
    Drive to the drinking-pool, and, as you drive,
    Beware the he-goat; with his horn he butts."

    MOERIS
    Ay, or to Varus that half-finished lay,
    "Varus, thy name, so still our Mantua live-
    Mantua to poor Cremona all too near-
    Shall singing swans bear upward to the stars."

    LYCIDAS
    So may your swarms Cyrnean yew-trees shun,
    Your kine with cytisus their udders swell,
    Begin, if aught you have. The Muses made
    Me too a singer; I too have sung; the swains
    Call me a poet, but I believe them not:
    For naught of mine, or worthy Varius yet
    Or Cinna deem I, but account myself
    A cackling goose among melodious swans.

    MOERIS
    'Twas in my thought to do so, Lycidas;
    Even now was I revolving silently
    If this I could recall- no paltry song:
    "Come, Galatea, what pleasure is 't to play
    Amid the waves? Here glows the Spring, here earth
    Beside the streams pours forth a thousand flowers;
    Here the white poplar bends above the cave,
    And the lithe vine weaves shadowy covert: come,
    Leave the mad waves to beat upon the shore."

    LYCIDAS
    What of the strain I heard you singing once
    On a clear night alone? the notes I still
    Remember, could I but recall the words.

    MOERIS
    "Why, Daphnis, upward gazing, do you mark
    The ancient risings of the Signs? for look
    Where Dionean Caesar's star comes forth
    In heaven, to gladden all the fields with corn,
    And to the grape upon the sunny slopes
    Her colour bring! Now, the pears;
    So shall your children's children pluck their fruit.

    Time carries all things, even our wits, away.
    Oft, as a boy, I sang the sun to rest,
    But all those songs are from my memory fled,
    And even his voice is failing Moeris now;
    The wolves eyed Moeris first: but at your wish
    Menalcas will repeat them oft enow.

    LYCIDAS
    Your pleas but linger out my heart's desire:
    Now all the deep is into silence hushed,
    And all the murmuring breezes sunk to sleep.
    We are half-way thither, for Bianor's tomb
    Begins to show: here, Moeris, where the hinds
    Are lopping the thick leafage, let us sing.
    Set down the kids, yet shall we reach the town;
    Or, if we fear the night may gather rain
    Ere we arrive, then singing let us go,
    Our way to lighten; and, that we may thus
    Go singing, I will case you of this load.

    MOERIS
    Cease, boy, and get we to the work in hand:
    We shall sing better when himself is come.
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