Munuscula

William Strutt, Peace
William Strutt, Peace

At tibi prima, puer, nullo munuscula cultu
errantes hederas passim cum baccare tellus
mixtaque ridenti colocasia fundet acantho.
ipsae lacte domum referent distenta capellae
ubera nec magnos metuent armenta leones;
ipsa tibi blandos fundent cunabula flores.
occidet et serpens et fallax herba veneni
occidet; Assyrium vulgo nascetur amomum.
at simul heroum laudes et facta parentis
iam legere et quae sit poteris cognoscere virtus,
molli paulatim flavescet campus arista
incultisque rubens pendebit sentibus uva
et durae quercus sudabunt roscida mella.
pauca tamen suberunt priscae vestigia fraudis,
quae temptare Thetin ratibus, quae cingere muris
oppida, quae iubeant telluri infindere sulcos.
alter erit tum Tiphys et altera quae vehat Argo
delectos heroas; erunt etiam altera bella
atque iterum ad Troiam magnus mittetur Achilles.
(Vergil, Ecl. 4.18-36)

For you, little child, spontaneously, as first gifts,
the earth will lavish creeping ivy and foxglove,
everywhere, and Egyptian lilies with smiling acanthus.
Goats will come home by themselves with udders full
of milk, nor will the oxen fear the lion’s might.
Your very cradle will flower with buds to caress you.
The serpent will die as well as poison’s treacherous plant,
and everywhere Assyrian balsam will come to bloom.
And when you have learned to read the praises of heroes and deeds
of your own father and know what manhood is, the plain,
little by little, will grow gold with waving grain,
and grapes will redden on the untended vine of the thorn,
and the hard oaks distill honey-dew from their barks.
Still, slight traces of our old iniquity
will make us tempt the sea in ships, fortify
our towns with walls, cut furrows in our soil.
There will be another Tiphys, another Argo’s
chosen crew, and there will be other wars,
and mighty Achilles will be dispatched once more to Troy.
(tr. Barbara Hughes Fowler)

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