The Georgics, Book One
by Publius Vergilius Maro
Ceres first arranged for mortal men to turn the earth
With iron at the time that acorns and arbutus berries
Failed in the sacred woods and holy oak groves supplied no food.
Soon, though, blight and weeds attacked the wheat – foul molds
Infected the stalks, and the useless thistle sent shock troops
Into the fields; the standing wheat dies, a rude forest of burs
And puncture vines springs up, poisonous darnel and
Sterile wild oats lord it over the once healthy furrows.
So, unless you pursue the weeds with a relentless hoe,
Scare off the birds with shouting, remove the shade from over-
Shadowed farmland with a pruning hook, and call down rain with prayers,
In vain, alas, you’ll stare at someone else’s heaps of grain
And relieve you own hunger by shaking oak trees in the woods.
Virgil’s Georgics, a New Verse Translation by Janet Lembke
© Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2005.