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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 Song of Thyrsis
By Theocritus (fl. Third Century B.C.)
 
Translation of Andrew Lang

BEGIN, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  1
  Thyrsis of Ætna am I, and this is the voice of Thyrsis. Where, ah! where were ye when Daphnis was languishing; ye Nymphs, where were ye? By Peneus’s beautiful dells, or by dells of Pindus? for surely ye dwelt not by the great stream of the river Anapus, nor on the watch-tower of Ætna, nor by the sacred water of Acis.  2
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  3
 
  For him the jackals, for him the wolves did cry; for him did even the lion out of the forest lament. Kine and bulls by his feet right many, and heifers plenty, with the young calves, bewailed him.  4
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  5
 
  Came Hermes first from the hill, and said, “Daphnis, who is it that torments thee; child, whom dost thou love with so great desire?” The neatherds came, and the shepherds; the goatherds came: all they asked what ailed him. Came also Priapus,—  6
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  7
 
  And said: “Unhappy Daphnis, wherefore dost thou languish, while for thee the maiden by all the fountains, through all the glades, is fleeting in search of thee? Ah! thou art too laggard a lover, and thou nothing availest! A neatherd wert thou named, and now thou art like the goatherd:  8
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  9
 
  “For the goatherd, when he marks the young goats at their pastime, looks on with yearning eyes, and fain would be even as they; and thou, when thou beholdest the laughter of maidens, dost gaze with yearning eyes, for that thou dost not join their dances.”  10
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  11
 
  Yet these the herdsman answered not again, but he bare his bitter love to the end; yea, to the fated end he bare it.  12
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  13
  Ay, but she too came, the sweetly smiling Cypris; craftily smiling she came, yet keeping her heavy anger: and she spake, saying: “Daphnis, methinks thou didst boast that wouldst throw Love a fall: nay, is it not thyself that hast been thrown by grievous Love?”  14
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  15
 
  But to her Daphnis answered again: “Implacable Cypris, Cypris terrible, Cypris of mortals detested, already dost thou deem that my latest sun has set; nay, Daphnis even in Hades shall prove great sorrow to Love.  16
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  17
 
  “Where it is told how the herdsman with Cypris— Get thee to Ida, get thee to Anchises! There are oak-trees—here only galingale blows; here sweetly hum the bees about the hives!  18
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  19
 
  “Thine Adonis, too, is in his bloom; for he herds the sheep and slays the hares, and he chases all the wild beasts. Nay, go and confront Diomedes again, and say ‘The herdsman Daphnis I conquered: do thou join battle with me.’  20
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  21
 
  “Ye wolves, ye jackals, and ye bears in the mountain caves, farewell! The herdsman Daphnis ye never shall see again, no more in the dells, no more in the groves, no more in the woodlands. Farewell, Arethusa; ye rivers, good-night, that pour down Thymbris your beautiful waters.  22
  Begin, ye Muses dear, begin the pastoral song!  23
 
  “That Daphnis am I who here do herd the kine, Daphnis who water here the bulls and calves.  24
 
  “O Pan, Pan! whether thou art on the high hills of Lycæus, or rangest mighty Mænalus, haste hither to the Sicilian isle! Leave the tomb of Helice, leave that high cairn of the son of Lycaon, which seems wondrous fair, even in the eyes of the blessed.  25
  Give o’er, ye Muses, come, give o’er the pastoral song!  26
 
  “Come hither, my prince, and take this fair pipe, honey-breathed with wax-topped joints; and well it fits thy lip: for verily I, even I, by Love am now haled to Hades.  27
  Give o’er, ye Muses, come, give o’er the pastoral song!  28
 
  “Now violets bear, ye brambles; ye thorns, bear violets; and let fair narcissus bloom on the boughs of juniper! Let all things with all be confounded;—from pines let men gather pears, for Daphnis is dying! Let the stag drag down the hounds, let owls from the hills contend in song with the nightingales.”  29
  Give o’er, ye Muses, come, give o’er the pastoral song!  30
 
  So Daphnis spake, and ended; but fain would Aphrodite have given him back to life. Nay, spun was all the thread that the Fates assigned; and Daphnis went down into the stream. The whirling wave closed over the man the Muses loved, the man not hated of the nymphs.  31
  Give o’er, ye Muses, come, give o’er the pastoral song!  32
 
 
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