THE shepherd Corydon burned for fair Alexis, his master's darling, and found no hope: only among the thick shady-topped beeches he would continually come, and there alone utter in idle passion these artless words to the hills and woods.
O cruel Alexis, carest thou naught for my songs? hast no pity on us? thou wilt be my death at the last. Now even the cattle woo the shade and coolness, now even the green lizards hide in the thorn brakes; and Thestylis is bruising garlic and wild thyme, strong-smelling herbs for the mowers wearied with the fierce heat: but for all my company, as I trace thy footsteps, the copses ring with crickets jarring under the blazing sun. Was it not better to bear Amaryllis with all her sour displeasures and haughty scorns? or Menalcas, though he were dark, though thou wert white? O fair boy, trust not overmuch to colour; creamy privet-blossoms fall, dark hyacinths are gathered. I am scorned of thee, nor dost thou ask what I am, Alexis, how rich in flocks, how abounding in snowy milk. A thousand lambs of mine wander on Sicilian hills: fresh milk fails me not at midsummer nor in the frost. I sing as he was wont when be called his oxen home, Amphion of Dirce in Actaean Aracynthus. Neither am I so foul to view: of late I saw myself on the shore, when the sea stood in windless calm; I will not fear Daphnis in thy judgment, if the mirror cannot lie. Ah that thou wouldst but care to be with me in the rough country, to dwell in low cots, to shoot the deer, or drive a flock of kids to the green mallow bed. With me in the woods together thou shalt copy Pan in singing; Pan first taught to join with wax the row of reeds: Pan is guardian if the sheep and of the shepherds. Nor let it repent thee to run thy tender lip along the reeds: to know this same art what did Amyntas leave undone? I have a pipe joined of
seven unequal hemlock-stalks, a gift that Damoetas once gave me, and said as he died: Now hath it thee for second master. Damoetas said it: stupid Amyntas was jealous. Furthermore two fawns, and in a perilous ravine I found them, with skin even yet white-dappled, drain a ewe's udders twice a day; and I keep them for thee. This long time Thestylis begs them to take away from me, and she shall, since our gifts are graceless in thine eyes. Come hither, O fair boy; for thee lo! the Nymphs bring baskets full of lilies; for thee the white Naiad plucks pale violets and poppy heads, and adds the narcissus and the fragrant anise-flower, and entwining them with casia and other sweet-scented herbs, spangles soft hyacinth-posies with yellow marigold. Myself will gather quinces with delicate silvery bloom, and the chestnuts that my Amaryllis loved, and waxen plums withal: this fruit likewise shall have his honour: and you will I pluck, O laurels, and thee, bordering myrtle, since so set you mingle your fragrant sweets. Thou art a country boor, O Corydon! nor does Alexis heed thy gifts: nor if the contest be of gifts may Iollas yield to thee. Alas, alas, what have I brought on my luckless head? I have loosed the tempest on my blossoms, woe's me, and the wild boars on my crystal springs. From whom fliest thou, ah infatuate? Gods likewise have dwelt in the woodland, and Paris of Dardania. Pallas may keep by herself the fortresses that she built: us before all else let the woodland satisfy. The grim lioness pursues the wolf, the wolf in turn the she-goat; the wanton she-goat pursues the flowering cytisus; as Corydon does thee, O Alexis, each drawn by his own delight. See, the bullocks return with the ploughs tilted from the yoke, and the sinking sun doubles the lengthening shadows: yet me love burns; for what bound may be set to love? Ah Corydon, Corydon, what madness has caught thee? thy vine hangs half unpruned on her leaf-laden elm. Nay but rather at least something of all that daily work needs, set thou to weave of osiers or soft rushes: if he disdains thee, thou wilt find another Alexis.