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Virgil's Georgics

Virgil's Georgics

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 144
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  • Book Info
    Virgil's Georgics
    Book Description:

    Virgil'sGeorgicsis a paean to the earth and all that grows and grazes there. It is an ancient work, yet one that speaks to our times as powerfully as it did to the poet's. This unmatched translation presents the poem in an American idiom that is elegant and sensitive to the meaning and rhythm of the original. Janet Lembke brings a faithful version of Virgil's celebratory poem to modern readers who are interested in classic literature and who relish reading about animals and gardens.The wordgeorgicsmeans farming. Virgil was born to a farming family, and his poem gives specific instructions to Italian farmers along with a passionate message to care for the land and for the crops and animals that it sustains. TheGeorgicsis also a heartfelt cry for returning farmers and their families to land they had lost through a series of dispiriting political events. It is often considered the most technically accomplished and beautiful of all of Virgil's work.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13773-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)

    TheGeorgicsis a poem for our time. Though written more than two thousand years ago, it speaks to us just as it spoke to Virgil’s contemporaries. The poem not only gave specific instructions to Italian farmers but also passionately advocated caring without cease for the land and for the crops and animals it sustained. A message inhabits the instructions: only at our gravest peril do we fail to husband the resources on which our lives depend. That council is as valid for today and tomorrow as it was for long-gone yesterdays.

    Georgics—the word means “farming.” The poem is...

    (pp. 3-20)

    What makes the crops rejoice, Maecenas, under what stars

    to plow and marry the vines to their arbor of elms,

    what care the cattle need, what tending the flocks must have,

    how much practical knowledge to keep frugal bees—

    here I start my song. You, brightest luminaries of sky’s

    vast world who lead the onrolling year through the heavens,

    you, old Planter God, and you, generous Ceres, if earth

    by your gift exchanged wild acorns for plump grains of wheat

    and mingled ancient river water with her first-ever grapes;

    and you, guardian Gods of Fields and Folds, always present


    (pp. 21-39)

    I’ve sung the green gardens of earth and the stars in heaven.

    Now, Bacchus, you are my song and, with you, the trees that stand

    thick in the woods and the fruit of the slow-growing olive.

    Father of Wine-Making, come! Everything here overflows

    with your gifts. For you, the vines are laden in the vineyard,

    and the vintage foams in full-to-brimming vats.

    Come, Father of Wine-Making, tug off your boots, come with me

    to stomp the grapes and dye your bare legs purple in the raw juice.

    To begin with, nature is lavish in bringing forth trees.

    You can see...

    (pp. 40-59)

    You, we will sing, Goddess of Shepherds, and you, bright


    who fed Thessalian flocks, and you, Pan’s sacred woods and streams.

    Other poems, which may have beguiled idle minds with song,


    worn themes: who does not know of the king who set Hercules’


    or the altars of the man-slaying king whom Hercules killed?

    Who has not told of Hercules’ lost friend, of Latona’s Delos,

    the bride Centaurs fought for, and Pelops the horse-tamer, marked

    by an ivory shoulder? I must try for a new path on which I

    may rise from the earth and soar triumphant from...

    (pp. 60-78)

    The sky’s celestial gift of honey—now I’ll follow up

    with that. Maecenas, look with approval on this part as well.

    The wonder-stirring drama of a tiny state,

    its great-hearted leaders and the entire species’ habits

    and pursuits and swarms and battles—of these I shall tell you.

    Trivial the work, but hardly trivial the glory if

    unlucky powers so permit and Apollo heeds one’s prayers.

    First, you must seek a fixed abode for the bees, to which

    the winds may find no entry because the winds prevent them

    from bearing home their food; in which no sheep and headbutting...

    (pp. 79-104)
    (pp. 105-114)