Eclogue X: Gallus’s Love

Eclogue X: Gallus’s Love is in Eclogues.

Arethusa, Sicilian Muse, allow me this last labour:
a few verses must be sung for my Gallus,
yet such as Lycoris herself may read. Who’d deny songs
for Gallus? If you’d not have briny Doris mix her stream
with yours, when you glide beneath Sicilian waves,
begin: let’s speak of Gallus’s anxious love,
while the snub-nosed goats crop the tender thickets.
We don’t sing to deaf ears, the woods echo it all.
Naiad girls, what groves or glades did you inhabit,
when Gallus was dying of unrequited love?
For the ridges of Parnassus, or Pindus,
or Aonian Aganippe did not delay you.
Even the laurels, even the tamarisks wept for him,
Even pine-clad Maenalus, and the rocks of cold Lycaeus
wept as he lay beneath a lonely cliff.
The sheep are standing round (they aren’t ashamed of us,
don’t be ashamed of them, divine poet:
even lovely Adonis grazed sheep by the stream):
and the shepherd came, and the tardy swineherds,
Menalcas came, wet from soaking the winter acorns.
All ask: ‘Where is this love of yours from?’ Apollo came:
‘Gallus what madness is this?’ he said, ‘Lycoris your lover
follows another through the snows and the rough camps.’
Silvanus came with rustic honours on his brow,
waving his fennel flowers and tall lilies.
Arcady’s god, Pan, came, whom we saw ourselves,
red with vermilion and crimson elderberries:
‘Is there no end to it?’ he said. ‘Love doesn’t care for this:
Love’s not sated with tears, nor the grass with streams,
the bees with clover, or the goats with leaves.’
But Gallus said sadly: ‘Still you Arcadians will sing
this tale to your hills, only Arcadians are skilled in song.
O, if one day your flutes should tell of my love,
how gently then my bones would rest,
and if only I’d been one of you, the guardian of one
of your flocks, or a vine-dresser among your ripe grapes.
Surely whether Phyllis were my passion, or Amyntas,
or whoever (what if Amyntas is dark? Violets
and hyacinths are dark.) she’d by lying with me,
among the willows, under the creeping vine:
Phyllis plucking garlands for me, Amyntas singing.
Here are cold springs, Lycoris, here are soft meadows,
here are the woods: here eternity itself to be spent with you.
Now a mad passion for the cruel god of war keeps me armed,
in the middle of weapons and hostile forces:
you far from your homeland ( would it were not for me
to credit such tales) ah! hard heart you gaze at Alpine snows
and the frozen Rhine, without me, and alone. Ah! May the frosts
do you no harm! May sharp ice not cut your tender feet!
I’ll go and play my songs composed in Chalcidian metre,
on a Sicilian shepherds pipe. I’d rather, for sure,
suffer, among the wild creatures’ dens,
in the woods, and carve my passion on tender trees.
They’ll grow, and you my passions will also grow.
Then I’ll wander with the Nymphs over Maenalus,
or hunt fierce wild boar. No frosts will deter me
from circling the glades of Parthenius with the hounds.
Even now I seem to pass over cliffs and through echoing
groves: I joy in shooting Cydonian arrows from Parthian bows,
as if this might be a cure for my madness,
or the god might learn how to soften human sorrows.
Now once more neither Hamadryads, nor songs please me:
once more you yourselves vanish from me, you woodlands.
No labour of ours can alter that god, not even
if we drink the Hebrus in the heart of winter,
and endure the Thracian snows with wintry rain,
not even if we drive the Ethiopian sheep, to and fro,
under Cancer, while dying bark withers on tall elms.
Love conquers all: and let us give way to Love.’
Divine Muses, it will be enough for your poet to have sung
these verses, while he sits and weaves a basket of slender hibiscus:
you will make these songs seem greatest of all to Gallus,
Gallus, for whom my love grows hour by hour,
as the green alder shoots in the freshness of spring.
Let’s rise, the shade’s often harmful to singers,
the juniper’s shade is harmful, and shade hurts the harvest.
Hesperus is here, home you sated goats: go home.