Argument: "The following poetical contest betwixt Thyrsis and Corydon, related by Meliboeus, is an imitation of the fifth and eighth Idylliums of Theocritus. Some fanciful commentators imagine that under these shepherds are represented Gallus or Pollio, or Cebes and Alexander, and that Meliboeus is Virgil himself. But there are not sufficient grounds for this conjecture. This pastoral is introduced with a pretty rural adventure" 1:123.
MELIBOEUS. CORYDON. THYRSIS.
By chance beneath an ilex' darksome shade
That whisper'd with the breeze was Daphnis laid;
Their flocks while Corydon and Thyrsis join'd,
These milky goats, and those the fleecy kind;
Both blooming youths, and both of Arcady,
Both skill'd alike to sing and to reply.
Thither my goat, the father of the fold,
While close I fenc'd my myrtles from the cold,
Rambling had stray'd; I Daphnis sitting spy'd,
He saw me too, and Hither haste, he cry'd,
Safe is thy goat and kids; one idle hour,
Come, waste with me beneath this cooling bow'r:
Here Mincius gently winding through the meads,
Fringes his banks with grass and bending reeds,
Hither thy herds at eve to drink will come,
While from yon' sacred oak bees swarming hum.
What could I do? Alcippe was not near,
Nor Phillis to the stalls my lambs to bear;
Great was the strife betwixt the tuneful swains,
And bent on pleasure I forgot my gains;
In sweet alternate numbers they began,
(So bade the Nine) and thus the contest ran.
Give me the lays, nymphs of th' inspiring springs!
Which Codrus, rival of Apollo, sings!
But if too weak to reach his flights divine,
My useless pipe I'll hang on yonder pine.
Ye swains, your rising bard with ivy deck,
Till Codrus' heart malign with envy break;
Or if pernicious praise his tongue bestow,
To guard from harms with baccar bind my brow.
This bristly head, these branching horns I send,
Delia! and Mycon at thy shrine shall bend;
If still the chace with such success be crown'd,
In marble shalt thou stand, with purple buskins bound.
Priapus! cakes and milk alone expect,
Small is the garden which you now protect!
But if the teeming ewes increase my fold,
Thy marble statue chang'd shall shine in polish'd gold.
O Galatea! nymph than swans more bright,
More sweet than thyme, more fair than ivy white.
When pastur'd herds at evening seek the stall,
Haste to my arms! nor scorn thy lover's call!
May I appear than wither'd weeds more vile,
Or bitter herbage of Sardinia's isle,
If a year's length exceeds this tedious day;
Homeward ye well-fed goats (for shame) away!
Ye mossy founts, and grass more soft than sleep,
Who still, with boughs o'er-hung, your coolness keep,
Defend my fainting flocks! the heats are near,
And bursting gems on the glad vine appear.
Here ever glowing hearths, embrown the posts,
Here blazing pines expel the pinching frosts,
Here cold and Boreas' blasts we dread no more,
Than wolves the sheep, or torrent streams the shore.
Here junipers and prickly chesnuts see,
Lo! scatter'd fruits lie under every tree;
All nature smiles; but should Alexis go
From these blest hills, ev'n streams would cease to flow.
Parch'd are the plains, the wither'd herbage dies,
Bacchus to hills their viny shade denies;
Let Phillis come, fresh greens will deck the grove,
In joyful showers descend prolific Jove.
Alcides, poplar; Venus, myrtle groves;
Bacchus, the vine; the laurel, Phoebus loves;
Phillis the hazels; while they gain her praise,
Myrtle to them shall yield, and Phoebus' bays.
Loveliest in walks the pine, the ash in woods,
Firs on the mountains, poplars in the floods;
Fair Lycidas, revisit oft' my field,
Pine, poplar, fir, and ash to thee shall yield!
Thus Thyrsis strove, but vanquish'd were his strains;
And Corydon without a rival reigns.