L.--Whither footest thou, Moeris? leads thy way townward?
M.--O Lycidas, we live to have come to this, what we never feared, that an intruder in our little fields should say, These are mine; hence with you, old freeholders! Now crushed and sorrowing, since all goes with Fortune's wheel, these kids (small joy may he have thereof!) we are sending to him.
L.--Surely I had heard that, where the hills begin to retire and lower their ridge in a soft slope, even to the waterside and the old beeches that now moulder atop, your Menalcas had saved all the land by his songs.
M.--You had; and so rumour ran. But songs of ours, Lycidas, have no more power among warring arms than Chaonian doves, as they say, when the eagle comes. Had not a raven from the hollow ilex on my left forewarned me to cut short my young suit as best I could, neither thy Moeris nor Menalcas himself were alive and here.
L.--Alas! can such wickedness come over any one? alas for thee and our comfort in thee, Menalcas, so nearly lost to us! Who would sing the nymphs? who strew the ground with blossoming plants, or train green shade over the springs? or those songs I caught of late from thee on thy way to our darling Amaryllis: Tityrus, while I return, (short is the way,) feed the she-goats; and drive them full-fed to drink, Tityrus; and amid the work, take heed of crossing the he-goat; he strikes with his horn.
M.--Nay these rather, which yet unfinished he sang to Varus: Varus, thy name, if but our Mantua survive, Mantua, ah too near a neighbour to unhappy Cremona, singing swans shall bear aloft to the stars.
L.--So may thy swarms shun yews of Corsica, so may
cytisus pasture swell the udders of thy kine, begin with what thou hast. Me also the maidens of Pieria have made a poet. I also have songs: even me the shepherds call a singer; but I believe them not. For, I think, I utter as yet nothing worthy of Varius or of Cinna, a cackling goose among these swans of song.
M.--So I do, Lycidas, and am thinking over silently with myself if I may avail to remember; and it is no mean song:
Come hither, O Galatea: what sport is among the waves? Here spring glows, here round the streams the ground breaks into many a flower; here the silver-white poplar leans over the cavern and trailing vines weave a covert of shade. Come hither; leave the mad billows to beat on the shore.
L.--How of what I once heard thee singing alone under the clear night? I remember the notes, had I the words sure:
Daphnis, why gaze upward on the ancient risings of the signs? lo the star of Caesar, Dione's child, has advanced, the star whereunder fields should rejoice in corn and the grape gather colour on sunny hills. Engraft thy pear-trees, Daphnis; thy children's children shall pluck their fruit.
M.--Time wastes all things, the mind too: often I remember how in boyhood I outwore long sunlit days in singing: now I have forgotten so many a song: Moeris is losing his voice too; wolves have caught first sight of Moeris; but yet Menalcas will repeat them to thee oft enough.
L.--Thy talking prolongs our desire: and now, see, all the mere is smooth and still, and all the windy murmur of the breeze, look, is sunk away. just from this point is half our road, for Bianor's tomb begins to show: here, where rustics strip the thick-leaved sprays, here, Moeris, let us sing; here set down thy kids; for all that, we shall reach the town. Or if we fear lest night ere then gather to rain, we may go singing all the way; so the road wearies the less: that we may go singing, I will lighten thee of this bundle.
M.--Cease thou further, O boy, and let us do our present business: when he is come himself, we will sing his songs better then.