Argument: "The poet introduces his friend and patron Gallus, lying under a solitary rock in Arcadia, bewailing the inconstancy of his mistress Lycoris, by whom is meant the beautiful Citheris, a most celebrated actress, that left him to follow some officer into Germany. He describes the rural deities coming to visit Gallus in his distress, and last of all Apollo himself, who all endeavour in vain to comfort him" 1:157.
Aid the last labour of my rural muse,
'Tis Gallus asks, auspicious Arethuse!
But then such pity-moving strains impart,
Such numbers as may touch Lycoris' heart;
Yet once more, tuneful nymph, thy succour bring!
What bard for Gallus can refuse to sing?
So while beneath Sicilian seas you glide,
May Doris ne'er pollute your purer tide!
With Gallus' hapless love begin the lay,
While browze the goats the tender-budding spray;
Nor to the deaf our mournful notes we sing,
Each wood shall with responsive echoes ring.
Where were ye, Naiads! in what lawn or grove,
When Gallus pin'd with unregarded love?
For not by Aganippe's spring ye play'd,
Nor Pindus' verdant hill your steps delay'd;
For him lamented every laurel grove;
The very tamariscs wept his hapless love;
His woes ev'n pine-topt Maenalus bemoan'd,
Thro' all his caverns the dark mountain groan'd;
And cold Lycaeum's rocks bewail'd his fate,
As sad beneath a lonely cliff he sate.
Around him stood his flock in dumb surprize,
A shepherd's lowly name I ne'er despise,—
Nor thou, sweet bard, disdain fair flocks to guide,
Adonis fed them by the river's side.
The heavy hind to him, and goat-herd haste,
And old Menalcas wet with wint'ry mast;
All of his love enquire; Apollo came;—
"Why glows my Gallus' breast with fruitless flame?
To seek another youth thy false one flies,
Thro' martial terrors and inclement skies."—
Shaking the rustic honours of his brow,
The lilly tall, and fennel's branching bough,
Sylvanus came; and Pan, Arcadia's pride,
With vermil-hues, and blushing elder dy'd:
"Ah! why indulge, he cries, thy boundless grief,
Think'st thou that love will heed, or bring relief?
Nor tears can love suffice, nor showers the grass,
Nor leaves the goat, nor flowers the honied race."
Sad Gallus then. — Yet O Arcadian swains,
Ye best artificers of soothing strains!
Tune your soft reeds, and teach your rocks my woes,
So shall my shade in sweeter rest repose;
O that your birth and bus'ness had been mine,
To feed the flock, and prune the spreading vine!
There some soft solace to my amorous mind,
Some Phillis or Amyntas I should find,
(What if the boy's smooth skin be brown to view,
Dark is the hyacinth and violet's hue)
There as we lay the vine's thick shades beneath,
The boy should sing, and Phillis twine the wreath.
Here cooling fountains roll thro' flow'ry meads,
Here woods, Lycoris! lift their verdant heads,
Here could I wear my careless life away,
And in thy arms insensibly decay.
Instead of that, me frantic love detains,
'Mid foes, and deathful darts, and bloody plains:
While you, and can my soul the tale believe,
Far from your country, lonely wand'ring leave,
Me, me your lover, barbarous fugitive!
Seek the rough Alps, where snows eternal shine,
And joyless borders of the frozen Rhine.
Ah! may no cold e'er blast my dearest maid,
Nor pointed ice thy tender feet invade!
I go, I go, Chalcidian strains to suit
To the soft sounds of the Sicilian flute!
'Tis fix'd! — to mazes of the tangled wood,
Where cavern'd monsters roam in quest of blood,
Abandon'd will I fly, to feed my flame
Alone, and on the trees inscribe her name;
Fast as the groves in stately growth improve,
By pow'r congenial will increase my love.—
Mean while on summits of Lycaeum hoar,
With the light nymphs I'll chase the furious boar,
Nor me shall frosts forbid with horn and hound
Parthenia's echoing forests to surround.
Now, now, thro' sounding woods I seem to go,
Twanging my arrows from the Parthian bow:
As if these sports my wounded breast could heal,
Or that fell god for mortal pangs would feel!
But now, again no more the woodland maids,
Nor pastoral songs delight — Farewel, ye shades—
No toils of ours the cruel god can change,
Tho' lost in frozen desarts we should range,
Tho' we should drink where chilling Hebrus flows,
Endure bleak winter's blasts, and Thracian snows;
Or on hot India's plains our flocks should feed,
Where the parch'd elm declines his sickening head;
Beneath fierce glowing Cancer's fiery beams,
Far from cool breezes and refreshing streams.
Love over all maintains resistless sway,
And let us love's all-conquering power obey.
Thus, as a basket's rushy frame he wove,
Your bard, ye muses, sung the pains of love.
May Gallus view the song with partial eyes,
For whom each hour my flames of friendship rise,
Fast as when vernal gales their influence spread,
The verdant alder lifts his blooming head.
But haste, unwholsome to the loitering swain
The shades are found, and hurtful to the grain;
Ev'n juniper's sweet shade, whose leaves around
Fragrance diffuse, at eve are noxious found.
Homeward, ye well fed goats, now sinks the day,
Lo, glittering Hesper comes! my goats away.