THIS last labour, Arethusa, grant to me: verses must be sung for my Gallus, few, yet such as Lycoris' self may read: who would deny verses to Gallus? So, when thou slidest under Sicilian waters, may bitter Doris not mingle her wave with thine. Begin; let us tell of Gallus' weary loves, while the flat-nosed she-goats crop the tender bushes. We sing not to deaf ears; the forests repeat all.
What woods or what lawns held you, Naiad girls, while Gallus pined in love's tyranny? for not on Parnassus, for not on Pindus' slopes did you linger, nor by Aonian Aganippe. Him even laurels, even tamarisks wept: him, as he lay beneath a lonely cliff, even Maenalus with his crown of pines wept, and the rocks of chill Lycaeus. The sheep too stand round; nor are they ashamed of us, nor be thou ashamed of thy flock, O divine poet: even fair Adonis pastured sheep by the river. Came too the keeper of the sheep: slow-pacing came the swineherds: dripping from the winter acorns Menalcas came. All ask, Whence this love of thine?' Apollo came: Gallus, why this madness? he said: thy love Lycoris amid the snows and amid the rough camp has followed another. Came too Silvanus with rustic bravery on his head, shaking his blossomed fennels and large lilies. Pan god of Arcady came, whom our eyes have seen, red with blood-stained elderberries and vermilion. Shall there be a limit? he said: Love recks not aught of this. Neither is cruel Love satiated with tears, nor the grasses with the rills, nor bees with cytisus, nor she-goats with leafage. But sadly he: Yet you will be singing, O Arcadians., to your hills of this: alone Arcadians are skilled to sing. Ah how softly then may my ashes rest, if your pipe once may tell of my loves. And would God I had been one of you, and yours been the flock I kept or the ripe grapes of my vintage! surely Phyllis, were it so, or Amyntas, or whosoever
were my passion (what then, if Amyntas be swarthy? violets too are dark and dark are hyacinths) would lie with me among the osiers beneath a trailing vine: Phyllis would pluck me coronals, Amyntas would sing. Here are chill springs, here soft meadows, O Lycoris: here the woodland: here with wasting time I too at thy side would waste away. Now a mad passion holds thee down among the hard War-god's arms, encircled by weapons and confronting foes. Thou, far from home (let me not quite believe it!) alone, without me, ah cruel, lookest on Alpine snows and the frosts of the Rhine. Ah may the frosts not hurt thee! Ah may the rough ice not cut thy delicate feet! I will be gone, and the songs I fashioned in Chalcidian verse I will set to the Sicilian shepherd's reed: resolved in the woods among the wild beasts' dens, to embrace endurance, and to cut my loves on the tender trees; with their growth you, O loves, will grow. Meanwhile I will range Maenalus amid the rout of Nymphs, or hunt the keen wild boar; no rigour of cold shall forbid me to encircle Parthenian glades with my bounds. Even now I think I pass among rock; and echoing groves, and delight to speed the Cydonian arrows from a Parthian bow: as if this could be healing of our madness, or that God could learn to soften at mortal griefs! Now neither Hamadryads once more nor songs themselves delight us: once more, O forests, yourselves retire. Him toils of ours cannot change; neither if in the mid-frosts we drink of Hebrus and abide the rainy winter among Sithonian snows; nor if while the dying bark scorches on the lofty elm, we guide Aethiopian sheep beneath the tropic. Love conquers all: let us too yield to Love.
This shall suffice, goddesses of Pieria, that your poet has sung while he sate and wove a basket of slim mallow shoots: you will make this precious for Gallus: for Gallus, love of whom grows in me as fast every hour as the green alder shoots up when spring is young. Let us arise; the shade is wont to be heavy on singers: the juniper shade is heavy: shade too hurts the corn. Go home full-fed, the Evening Star comes, go, my she-goats.