페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

The people's looks are different as their kings;
Some sparkle bright, and glitter in their wings;
Others look loathsome and diseased with sloth,
Like a faint traveller, whose dusty mouth
Grows dry with heat, and spits a maukish froth.
The first are best-
From their o'erflowing combs you 'll often press
Pure luscious sweets that, mingling in the glass,
Correct the harshness of the racy juice,
And a rich flavour through the wine diffuse:
But when they sport abroad and rove from home,
And leave the cooling hive, and quit the’unfinish'd

comb,
Their airy ramblings are with ease confined;
Clip their kings' wings, and if they stay behind
No bold usurper dares invade their right,
Nor sound a march, nor give the sign for flight.
Let flowery banks entice them to their cells,
And gardens all perfumed with native smells,
Where carved Priapus has his fix'd abode,
The robber's terror, and the scarecrow god.
Wild thyme and pine-trees from the barren hill
Transplant, and nurse them in the neighbouring soil;
Set fruit-trees round, nor e'er indulge thy sloth,
But water them, and urge their shady growth.

And here, perhaps, were not I giving o'er, And striking sail, and making to the shore, I'd show what art the gardener's toils require, Why rosy pæstum blushes twice a year, What streams the verdant succory supply, And how the thirsty plant drinks rivers dry; What with a cheerful green does parsley grace, And writhes the bellying cucumber along the twist

ed grass ;

[ocr errors]

For once

herbs among

Nor would I pass the soft acanthus o'er,
Ivy nor myrtle-trees, that love the shore;
Nor daffodils, that late from earth’s slow womb
Unrumple their swoln buds, and show their yellow

I saw in the Tarentine vale, [bloom.
Where slow Galesus drench'd the washy soil,
An old Corician yeoman, who had got
A few neglected acres to his lot,
Where neither corn nor pasture graced the field,
Nor would the vine her purple harvest yield,
But savoury

the thorns were found, Vervain and poppy-flowers his garden crown'd, And drooping lilies whiten’d all the ground. Bless'd with these riches, he could empires slight, And when he rested from his toils at night, The earth unpurchased dainties would afford, And his own garden furnish out his board. The spring did first his opening roses blow, First ripening autumn bent his fruitful bough: When piercing colds had burst the brittle stone, And freezing rivers stiffen'd as they run, He then would průne the tenderest of his trees, Chide the late spring and lingering western breeze; His bees first swarm’d, and made his vessels foam With the rich squeezing of the juicy comb. Here lindens and the sappy pine increased; Here, when gay flowers his smiling orchard dress'd, As many blossoms as the spring could show, So many dangling apples mellow'd on the bough. In rows his elms and knotty pear-trees bloom, And thorns, ennobled now to bear a plum; And spreading plane-trees, where, supinely laid, He now enjoys the cool, and quaffs beneath the shade:

But these for want of room I must omit,
And leave for future poets to recite.

Now I'll proceed their natures to declare,
Which Jove himself did on the bees confer;
Because, invited by the timbrel's sound,
Lodged in a cave the almighty babe they found,
And the young god nursed kindly under ground.

Of all the wing’d inhabitants of air These only make their young the public care ; In well-disposed societies they live, And laws and statutes regulate their hive, Nor stray, like others, unconfined abroad, But know set stations, and a fix'd abode: Each, provident of cold, in summer flies [plies, Through fields and wodels, to seek for new supAnd in the common stock wlades his thighs. Some watch the food, some in the meadows ply, Taste every bud, add suck gach blossom dry; Whilst others, labouring in their cells at home, Temper Narcissus' clammy tears with gum, For the first groundwork of the golden comb; On this they found their waxen works, and raise The yellow fabric on its glewy base. Some educate the young, or hatch the seed With vital warmth, and future nations breed; Whilst others thicken all the slimy dews, And into purest honey work the juice, Then fill the hollows of the comb, and swell With luscious nectar every flowing cell. By turns they watch, by turns with curious

eyes Survey the heavens, and search the clouded skies, To find out breeding storms, and tell what tempests

rise ;

By turns they ease the loaden swarms, or drive
The drone, a lazy insect, from their hive;
The work is warmly plied through all the cells,
And strong with thyme the new-made honey smells.

So in their caves the brawny Cyclops sweat, When with huge strokes the stubborn wedge they

beat, And all the unshapen thunderbolt complete; Alternately their hammers rise and fall, Whilst griping tongs turn round the glowing ball; With puffing bellows some the flames increase, And some in waters dip the hissing mass ; Their beaten anvils dreadfully resound, And Ætna shakes all o’er, and thunders under

ground. Thus, if great things we may with small compare, The busy swarms their different labours share: Desire of profit urges all degrees; The aged insects, by experience wise, Attend the comb, and fashion every part, And shape the waxen fret-work out with art: The young at night, returning from their toils, Bring home their thighs clogg'd with the meadows' On lavender and saffron buds they feed, [spoils : On bending osiers and the balmy reed ; From purple violets and the teil they bring Their gather'd sweets, and rifle all the spring.

All work together, all together rest: The morning still renews their labours past; Then all rush out, their different tasks pursue, Sit on the bloom, and suck the ripening dew. Again, when evening warns them to their home, With weary wings and heavy thighs they come, And crowd about the chink, and mix a drowsy hum;

None range

Into their cells at length they gently creep,
There all the night their peaceful station keep,
Wrapp'd up in silence, and dissolved in sleep.

abroad when winds and storms are
Nor trust their bodies to a faithless sky, [nigh,
But make small journeys with a careful wing,
And fly to water at a neighbouring spring ;
And, lest their airy bodies should be cast
In restless whirls, the sport of every blast,
They carry stones to poise them in their flight,
As ballast keeps the’ unsteady vessel right.

But of all customs that the bees can boast, 'Tis this may challenge admiration most, That none will Hymen's softer joys approve, Nor waste their spirits in luxurious love, But all a long virginity maintain, And bring forth young without a mother's pain : From herbs and flowers they pick each tender bee, And cull from plants a buzzing progeny; From these they choose out subjects, and create A little monarch of the rising state, Then build wax-kingdoms for the infant prince, And form a palace for his residence.

But often in their journeys, as they fly, On flints they tear their silken wings, or lie Grovelling beneath their flowery load, and die. Thus love of honey can an insect fire, And in a fly such generous thoughts inspire. Yet by repeopling their decaying state, [date, Though seven short springs conclude their vital Their ancient stocks eternally remain, [reign. And in an endless race their children's children

No prostrate vassal of the East can more With slavish fear his mighty prince adore;

« 이전계속 »