Well, my poor ploughman, and what ails thee now?
Thy furrow lies not even as of yore:
They fellows leave behind thy lagging plough,
As the flock leaves a ewe whose feet are sore:
By noon and midday what will be thy plight
If now, so soon, thy coulter fails to bite?
Hewn from hard rocks, untired at set of sun,
Milo, didst ne'er regret some absent one?
Not I. What time have workers for regret?
Hath love ne'er kept thee from thy slumbers yet?
Nay, heaven forbid! If once the cat taste cream!
Milo, these ten days love hath been my dream.
You drain your wine, while vinegar's scarce with me.
--Hence since last spring untrimmed my borders be.
And what lass flouts thee?
She whom we heard play
Amongst Hippocoon's reapers yesterday.
Your sins have found you out--you're e'en served right:
You'll clasp a corn-crake in your arms all night.
You laugh: but headstrong Love is blind no less
Than Plutus: talking big is foolishness.
I don't talk big. But lay the corn-ears low
And sing the while some love-song--easier so
Will seem your toil: you used to sing, I know.
Maids of Pieria, of my slim lass sing!
One touch of yours ennobles everything. [Sings.]
My sweet! on thy complexion men remark;
Call thee shrunk, swart: I call thee olive-brown.
Violets and pencilled hyacinths are dark,
Yet first of flowers they're chosen for a crown.
As goats pursue the clover, wolves the goat,
And cranes the ploughman, upon thee I dote.
Had I but Croesus' wealth, we twain should stand,
Gold-sculptured, in Love's temple: thou should'st play
Thy pipe, a rose or apple in thy hand,
I flaunt my minstrel's robe and sandals gay.
Bombyca! twinkling ebony are thy feet,
Honey thy mouth, thy ways none knows how sweet!
Fine verses can this unknown herdsman make--
How shone the artist in each measured line!
Why, lad, that beard grew on thee by mistake!
List to this stave, by Lytierse the divine. [Sings.]
O rich in fruit and cornblade: be this field
Tilled well, Demeter, and fair fruitage yield!
Bind the sheaves, reapers: lest one, passing, say--
'A fig for these, they're never worth their pay.'
Let the mown swathes look northward, ye who mow,
Or westward--for the ears grow fattest so.
Avoid a noontide nap, ye threshing men:
The chaff flies thickest from the corn-ears then.
Wake when the lark wakes; when he slumbers, close
Your work, ye reapers: and at noontide doze.
Boys, the frogs' life for me! They need not him
Who fills the flagon, for in drink they swim.
Better boil herbs, thou toiler after gain,
Than, splitting cummin, split thy hand in twain.
This that I've sung thee, ploughman, is a tune
For men to sing that swelter in the sun.
Thy meagre love-tale is a thing to croon
In thy mamma's ear when her dreams are done.