Argument: "This is evidently an imitation of the [Greek characters] of Theocritus, and is very valuable not only for its poetical beauties, but likewise for the account it preserves to us of several superstitious rites and heathen notions of inchantment. The poet seems to have had an high idea of his composition by his introducing it in so lofty a strain, quorum stupefactae carmine lynces. The critics have been very much divided whether it is inscribed to Pollio or Augustus. Catrou pleads very strongly for Augustus; but Dr. Martyn largely examines this plea, and confutes it solidly. There is doubtless a great stress to be laid on Sola Sophocleo tua carmina digna cothurno. For tho' Augustus began a tragedy on the death of Ajax, (after Sophocles) yet this piece was never published, as many fine ones of Pollio were, who is highly celebrated by Horace for his dramatic excellence. Lib. II. Od. 1. Motum ex Metello, &c. The enchantments described in this Eclogue, are finely imitated in the Arcadio del Sannazora. Prosa 10." 1:133.
John Dryden: "In his Eighth Eclogue, he has innovated nothing; the former part of it being the Complaint and despair of a forsaken Lover: the latter, a Charm of an Enchantress, to renew a lost Affection. But the Complaint perhaps contains some Topicks which are above the Condition of his Persons; and our Author seems to have made his Herdsmen somewhat too Learn'd for their Profession: The Charms are also of the same nature, but both were Copied from Theocritus, and had receiv'd the applause of former Ages in their Original. There is a kind of Rusticity in all those pompous Verses; somewhat of a Holiday Shepherd strutting in his Country Buskins" Works of Virgil (1697) 2.
Charm'd with the songs of two contending swains,
The herds for wonder ceas'd to graze the plains,
In deep surprize the lynxes listening stood,
The rolling rivers stopt their headlong flood!
O Pollio! leading thy victorious bands
O'er deep Timavus' or Illyria's sands;
O when thy glorious deeds shall I rehearse,
When tell the world how matchless is thy verse,
Worthy the lofty stage of laurell'd Greece,
Great rival of majestic Sophocles!
With thee began my songs, with thee shall end;
The strains thyself commanded, O attend!
And mid the laurels which thy brows entwine,
Admit this humble ivy-wreath of mine.
Night, her unwholesome shadows scarce withdrew,
What time the cattle love to sip the dew,
Damon, against an olive's trunk reclin'd,
Thus pour'd the transports of his jealous mind.
Bright Lucifer arise! bring on the day,
While I deceiv'd by Nisa pine away,
To heav'n addressing my last pray'rs and tears,
Yet which of all the gods my sorrow hears?
Begin with me, my pipe, Maenalian strains.
Delightful Maenalus, 'mid echoing groves,
And vocal pines, still hears the shepherds' loves;
The rural warblings hears of skilful Pan,
Who first to tune neglected reeds began.
Fair Nisa Mopsus weds! O wond'rous mate,
Ye lovers! what may we not hope from fate?
Now gryphons join with mares! another year,
With hostile dogs shall drink the timid deer:
Thy bride comes forth! begin the festal rites!
The walnuts strew! prepare the nuptial lights!
O envied husband, now thy bliss is nigh,
Behold for thee bright Hesper mounts the sky.
O Nisa I congratulate thy choice!
Me you despise, my pipe, and artless voice,
My goats, my shaggy brows, my length of beard,
Nor think the gods your broken vows have heard.
Once with your mother to our fields you came,
For dewy apples — thence I date my flame;
The choicest fruit I pointed to your view,
Tho' young my raptur'd soul was fix'd on you!
The boughs I scarce could reach with little arms,
But then, ev'n then, could feel thy pow'rful charms.
O how I gaz'd in pleasing transport tost!
How glow'd my heart in sweet delusion lost!
I know thee, Love! on horrid Tmarus born,
Or from cold Rhodope's hard entrails torn,
Nurs'd in hot sands the Garamants among,
From human stock the savage never sprung.
Relentless love the mother taught of yore,
To bathe her hands in her own infant's gore;
O barbarous mother thirsting to destroy!
More cruel was the mother or the boy?
Both, both, alike delighted to destroy,
Th' unnat'ral mother and the ruthless boy.
Now hungry wolves let tim'rous lambkins chace,
Narcissus' flowers the barren alder grace,
Let blushing apples knotted oaks adorn,
Let liquid amber drop from every thorn!
Let owls contend with swans; our rural bard
To Orpheus or Arion be preferr'd!
Like Orpheus draw the listening trees along,
Or like Arion charm the finny throng.
Let the sea rush o'er all, in shoreless floods!
Take this last dying gift! — farewel, ye woods!
Nisa adieu! — from yon impending steep,
Headlong I'll plunge into the foamy deep!
Cease now, my pipe, now cease Maenalian strains.
Thus Damon mourn'd. Ye tuneful virgins tell
The swain's reply — Not all in all excel.
Bring water for the solemn rites design'd,
The altar's sides with holy fillets bind—
The strongest frankincense, rich vervain burn,
That mighty magic may to madness turn
My perjur'd love — 'Tis done — and nought remains
To crown the rites but all-inchanting strains.
Bring Daphnis, bring him from the town, my strains.
By strains pale Cynthia from her sphere descends,
Strains chang'd to brutes Ulysses' wondering friends,
Strains in the meadow, or the secret brake,
Can the deaf adder split, and venom'd snake.
Lo! first I round thy waxen image twist,
And closely bind this triple-colour'd list,
And three times round the altar walk; for three
Is a dear number to dread Hecate.
Haste, Amaryllis, ply thy busy hand;
Haste, quickly, knit the consecrated band,
And say 'tis knit at Venus' dread command;
In three close knots the mixing colours knit,
For ardent lovers such close bands befit.
As this same fire melts wax and hardens clay,
To others deaf, let him my love repay.
Crumble the sacred cake, let wither'd bays,
Inflam'd with liquid sulphur crackling blaze;
As Daphnis warms my bosom with desire,
May Daphnis burn in this consuming fire.
May Daphnis feel such strong, unanswer'd love,
As the fond heifer feels, thro' copse and grove,
Who seeks her beauteous bull, then tir'd and faint
On the green rushy bank lies down to pant,
Lost to herself and rolling on the ground,
Heedless of darksome night now clos'd around!
Ev'n thus, may disregarded Daphnis burn,
Pine to despair, nor I his flame return.
This vest the faithless traitor left behind,
Pledge of his love I give, to thee consign'd,
O sacred earth! thus plac'd beneath the door,
O may the precious pledge its lord restore!
These powerful, poisonous plants in Pontus dug,
(Pontus abounds in many a magic drug)
Sage Moeris gave; in dire enchantments brew'd,
Moeris his limbs with these has oft bedew'd,
Hence the fell sorcerer have I seen become
A wolf, and thro' wild forests howling roam,
With these from graves the starting spectres warn,
And whirl to distant fields the standing corn.
Take now these ashes from th' expiring wood,
And strew them, Amaryllis, o'er the flood;
But backward cast them, dare not look behind,
With these I'll strive to touch his harden'd mind;
But weak all art my Daphnis' breast to move,
For he nor charms regards, nor pow'rs above.
Lo! round the altar's sides what flames aspire!
The dying embers burst into a fire!
List! Hylax barks! O may it lucky prove!
But ah! how oft are we deceiv'd that love?
Can it be truth? my heart will Daphnis ease?
He comes, my Daphnis comes — Enchantments cease!