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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Rural Deities
By Tibullus (c. 55–19 B.C.)
 
Translation of James Cranstoun

THE FIELDS and rural gods are now my theme,
  Who made our sires for acorns cease to roam,
Taught them to build their log-huts beam by beam,
  And thatch with leafy boughs their humble home.
 
They trained the steer the bended yoke to bear,        5
  Placed wheels beneath the cart, and by degrees
Weaned man primeval from his savage fare,
  And bade the orchards smile with fruitful trees.
 
Then fertile gardens drank the watering wave;
  Then first the purple fruitage of the vine,        10
Pressed by fair feet, immortal nectar gave;
  Then water first was blent with generous wine.
 
The fields bear harvests, when the Dog-star’s heat
  Bids earth each year her golden honors shed;
And in spring’s lap bees gather honey sweet,        15
  And fill their combs from many a floral bed.
 
Returning from the plow, the weary swain
  First sang his rustic lays in measured tread,
And supper o’er, tried on oat-pipe some strain
  To play before his gods brow-chapleted.        20
 
He, vermil-stained, great Bacchus! first made bold
  To lead the untutored chorus on the floor,
And (valued prize!) from forth a numerous fold
  Received a goat to swell his household store.
 
Young hands first strung spring flow’rets in the fields,        25
  And with a wreath the ancient gods arrayed;
Here its soft fleece the tender lambkin yields,
  To form a task for many a tender maid.
 
Hence wool and distaffs fill the housewife’s room,
  And nimble thumbs deft spindles keep in play;        30
Hence maidens sing and ply the busy loom,
  Hence rings the web beneath the driven lay.
 
 
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