“the shining days when the world was new”: Virgil Greets the Spring

From the second of Virgil’s Georgics, translated by David Ferry:

It’s spring that adorns the woods and groves with leaves;
In spring the soil, desiring seed, is tumid,
And then the omnipotent father god descends
In showers from the sky and enters into
The joyful bridal body of the earth,
His greatness and her greatness in their union
Bringing to life the life waiting to live.
Birdsong is heard in every secluded thicket,
And all the beasts of the field have become aware
That love’s appointed days have come again.
The generous earth is ready to give birth
And the meadows ungirdle for Zephyr’s warming breezes;
The tender dew is there on everything;
The new grass dares entrust itself to the news
Suns of the new days and the little tendrils
Of the young vines have no fear of a South Wind coming
Nor of a North Wind from a stormy sky;
The vine brings forth its buds; its leaves unfold.
I think it must have been that just such days
As these were the shining days when the world was new;
Everywhere it was spring, the whole world over;
The East Wind held in check its winter winds;
The beasts drank in the light of that first dawn;
The first men, born of the earth, raised up their heads
From the stony ground; the woods were stocked with game,
And the first stars came out in the sky above.
Nor could the tender plants endure their lot
If spring’s relief were not to intervene
Between the heat of summer and winter’s cold.

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2 replies »

  1. Yeah there’s some idiosyncrasy in Ferry’s translation, but it’s the best I’ve found in English too. Dryden’s seems nice but feels more Dryden than Virgil, & trapped in the 17th C. Ferry’s feels pretty timeless.

    Liked by 1 person

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