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But if thy labor from the cultur'd plain
255 Nor thou th' unvalued bean and vetch disdain, Wait till Boötes' lingering beams descend, And ’mid hoar frosts thy patient toil extend.
For this the golden sun the earth divides, And, wheeld thro' twelve bright signs, his chariot guides.
260 Five zones the heav'n surround : the centre glows With fire unquench’d, and suns without repose : At each extreme the poles in tempest tost Dark with thick show'rs, and unremitting frost :
246 Le sainfoin dure plusieurs années : le millet, au contraire, veut être semé tous les ans.—De Lille.
252 Ariadne, daughter of Minos, king of Crete. At the celebration of her nuptials with Bacchus, in the island of Naxos, where she was abandoned by Theseus, Venus presented her with a crown, which was translated to the hea.
253 Maia is one of the Pleiades: the poet puts a part for the whole. He speaks here against sowing too early; and we are informed by Columella that it was an old proverb amongst the farmers, that an early sowing often deceives our expectations, but seldom a late one.-Martyn.
Too early sowing is apt in this country to produce much straw and little wheat.-T. A. Knight.
255 Pelusium is a town of Egypt, which gives name to one of the seven mouths of the Nile : the best lentils are said to grow in that country.–Martyn.
257 Boötes, a northern constellation, near the tail of the Great Bear. Arcturus (in this constellation) sets, according to Columella, on the 29th of October.–Martyn.
Between the poles and blazing zone confined 265
280 And here when first the Sun's hot coursers breathe, Late Vesper lights his evening star beneath.
Experience hence the doubtful storm fore-learns, When best to sow, when best to reap, discerns.
271 Virgil says that the North Pole is elevated, because that only is visible to us; and, for the contrary reason, he calls the Southern Pole depressed.
275 Virgil no doubt had in view Homer's description of the northern constellations on the shield of Achilles.
The Pleiads, Hyads, with the northern team,
Pope.—Martyn. 277 Virgil here alludes to that doctrine of Epicurus, that the sun might possibly revive and perish daily; and in line 280,
* There bright Aurora beams returning day,' he proposes the contrary doctrine ; that the sun lights another hemisphere when he leaves our horizon. Lucretius mentions both opinions.-Martyn.
Oar the false wave, or trust with fleets the flood, 285 Or timely fell the pine that crown’d the wood.
Thus observation reads the starry sphere, And fourfold parts, as seasons change, the year. Swains shelter'd from the shower at leisure frame Works that serener skies impatient claim ; 290 Scoop troughs from trees, or mark each hoarded heap, Or head the two-horn'd forks, or brand the sheep; Point the sharp stake, or edge the blunted share, For flexile vines the willowy wreath prepare; Light baskets weave with pliant osier twined, 295 Now parch the grain, and now with millstones grind.
E’en 'mid high feasts to holy leisure giv'n, Earth claims a part, nor fears offended Heav'n: Then drain the dikes, snare birds, and fire the thorn, And lave the bleating flock, and fence the corn. 300 Then oft the peasant balancing his loads, The sluggish mule beneath his burden goads; Brings pitch and millstones home for barter'd oil, And fruit, cheap produce of his native soil.
Nor less the lunar orb with prescient ray 305 Marks for each varying work th' appropriate day. Avoid the fifth, it gave pale Orcus birth, The Furies and nefarious brood of Earth, Cous, Iapetus, Typhæus bold,
309 And the leagued brethren 'gainst the gods enroll’d; Thrice their strain'd strength had Ossa on Pelion laid, And heaved on Ossa all th’ Olympian shade; But Jove indignant as the structure grew, Thrice, thund'ring, thrice the mountain mass o'erthrew.
296 The Romans kiln-dried their corn before grinding, from its being considered more salubrious, and in conformity with an ordinance.-De Lille.-Stawell.
303 A l'égard de la poix, les Romains en faisoient grand usage pour goudronner les vases où ils gardoient le miel et le vin. -De Lille.
Seventh from the tenth, the hours propitious shine,
The night to many a work advantage yields,
But reap beneath the sun thy golden wheat,
335 Springs from its load, and leaves its cares behind ;
321 Pliny observes that a dewy night is fittest for mowing. ---Martyn.
327 Must is the new wine before fermentation. We find in Columella that it was usual to boil some of the must, till a fourth part, or a third, or even 'sometimes half, was evaporated ; and this was put into some sorts of wine, to make them keep. Columella recommends the sweetest must for this purpose.—Martyn.
330 This was the common practice throughout the East; and that humane text of Scripture, · Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn,' is a plain allusion to it.Warton.
331 This precept is taken from Hesiod. According to Pliny, Cincinnatus was found ploughing naked when the dictatorship was announced to him.--- Martyn.
As when the deep-stor'd ships their anchor cast,
Why should I mark each storm, and starry sign, 345
E’en in mid-harvest, while the jocund swain Pluck'd from the brittle stalk the golden grain, Oft have I seen the war of winds contend, And prone on earth th' infuriate storm descend, Waste far and wide, and, by the roots uptorn, 355 The heavy harvest sweep through ether borne, As the light straw, and rapid stubble fly In dark’ning whirlwinds round the wintry sky. Column on column, clouds by tempest driven, Sweep from the sea, and darken all the heaven: 360 Down rushes ether deluging with rain The labors of the ox, and joyful grain ; The dikes o’erflow, the flooded channels roar, Vext ocean's foaming billows rock the shore: The Thunderer, throned in clouds, with darkness crown'd,
365 Bares his red arm, and flashes lightnings round.
365 This description is very sublime, but is excelled by the storm in the 18th Psalm : God is described flying on the wings of the wind : 'He made darkness his secret place : his position round about him with dark water; and thick clouds