- Virgil, "Georgics" (BkI:43-70 Spring Ploughing)
In the early Spring, when icy waters flow from snowy hills,
and the crumbling soil loosens in a westerly breeze,
then I’d first have my oxen groaning over the driven plough,
and the blade gleaming, polished by the furrow.
The field that’s twice felt sun, and twice felt frost,
answers to the eager farmer’s prayer:
from it boundless harvest bursts the barns.
But before our iron ploughshare slices the untried levels,
let’s first know the winds, and the varying mood of the sky,
and note our native fields, and the qualities of the place,
and what each region grows and what it rejects.
Here, wheat, there, vines, flourish more happily:
trees elsewhere, and grasses, shoot up unasked for.
See how Tmolus sends us saffron fragrance,
India, ivory, the gentle Sabeans, their incense,
while the naked Chalybes send iron, Pontus rank
beaver-oil, Epirus the glories of her mares from Elis.
Nature has necessarily imposed these rules, eternal laws,
on certain places, since ancient times, when Deucalion
hurled stones out into the empty world,
from which a tough race of men was born.
Come: and let your strong oxen turn the earth’s rich soil,
right away, in the first months of the year,
and let the clods lie for dusty summer to bake them in full sun:
but if the earth has not been fertile it’s enough to lift it
in shallow furrows, beneath Arcturus: in the first case
so that the weeds don’t harm the rich crops, in the other,
so what little moisture there is doesn’t leave the barren sand.