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Then the waves are in no mood to bear a ship and cormorants dash back from sea and bring their throaty roars to the shore; waterhens more used to waterways play on dry land——a sign for herons to forsake the marshes and weave their way high in the sky. And you can readily predict impending gales by shooting stars that blaze their way through the night sky and leave a white trail printed there.

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Then a crow, strutting the deserted shore, proclaims in its mean caw, Rain, rain, and then more rain. High in the skies Nisus comes into view, a sparrowhawk, and Scylla pays the price for that lock of reddish hair she stole. The skies of Germany resounded with the din of war, weird stirrings caused the Alps to tremble. The rivers ground to a halt, gaping holes appeared, and in the sanctuary carved ivories began to weep the tears of mourning and bronzes to perspire.

The Po, king river, swept away in raging rushes across the open plains whole plantations, cattle and their stalls, lines — Book One 23 swept all away. That was a time when entrails, carefully scrutinized, showed nothing but the worst and wellsprings spouted blood all day and hill towns howled all night with wolves. More than enough, and long ago, we paid in blood for the lies Laomedon told at Troy. Look here, the east is up in arms; look there, hostilities in Germany.

Lesson one. The ways to propagate a tree are many. Now there are other ways, found out by trial and error. How often have we seen the bough of one tree turned into another, and none the worse for wear——the pear transformed to issue apples, the plum branch blushing with its stonehard cherries? So, come on, countrymen, and learn the character of every species, make wild fruits sweeter through your care, and let no land lie waste. Not that I could ever hope to feature all things in my verses—— not even if I had a hundred mouths, as many ways of speech, and a voice as strong as iron.

Stand by me now——as we proceed along the shoreline, land close to hand. And even these, grafted to another or set carefully in a well-worked bed, lines 51—79 Book Two 29 will outgrow their wildwood ways and with attentive care will toe the line of what you have laid down for them. And, yes, through grafting, the shaggy strawberry dispenses walnuts, and barren planes have borne a healthy pick of apples, chestnut trees have sponsored beeches, and pear blossom whitened manna ash, while underneath an elm sows have prospered on a feed of acorns. These are not straightforward acts, grafting and implanting.

You see, when buds develop inside the bark and split its skin a narrow pocket forms right on the knot. But knot-free trunks you cut back all the way and into the solid bole you etch deep wedges. Some suit a fertile soil, some a lighter sort. Psythian makes best raisin-wine, while Lagean leaves you footless——just like that!

Not that every soil can bear all types of things. Willows grow by river banks, alders root in swampy depths, the mountain ash on stony heights. None but the Indies grow ebony, none but Arabia its sticks of incense. What need is there for me——because you know already——to mention fragrant resin exuded by the balsam or the pods of evergreen acacia?

No wind can make it shed its leaves, its blossom has a stubborn hold. The Medes use it to cure foul odours in the mouth and treat shortness of breath in older people. No, nor Bactra, nor the Indies, nor Arabia and all its sands opulent with incense. Twice cattle calve every year and twice the apple trees present their plenty. Is there any need for me to mention the seas that wash above it and below, lines — Book Two 33 or its great lakes——you, Larius, the greatest of them all, or Benacus with crashing waves, just like a sea?

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  5. Deep in the veins of this land silver shows, and copper mines; its rivers run rich with gold. Hail to thee, Italy, holy mother of all that grows, mother of men——in your honour I plunge into material and measures prized in days of old, daring to divulge the hallowed sources and sing a hymn to works and days through the towns of Rome. First that rugged country, those mean slopes, stony soil, shallow loam, a world of brambles—— a happy home for long-lived olives. One sure sign of such a place is oleaster in profusion, its berries veritably blanketing the ground.

    Their nestlings left, their mothers made for high sky, but those once straggly acres blossom now behind your team. A shortfall? A surplus? The tip of the tongue of anyone who takes on to try it 36 Book Two lines — will tell the tale, his turned-up mouth squirming with the taste. Preserve me from such profusions, or such excess when new shoots show! A glance will tell black earth, or whatever colour it turns out to be. Keep all this in mind. A crumbly soil is best of all——broken down by grace of frosts and freezing winds, and the ongoing toil of diggers who have worked the plot, perch by perch and rood by rood.

    But those whose eyes watch everything miss nothing.

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    Let all the avenues be equal, not only so an idle eye might linger on the view but because no other method gets the earth to give in matching measures and grants the boughs free rein and the run of air. But trees need to be driven deeper, and none more than the dun must oak which holds its head to heaven, with as much above the ground as its roots below delve into the pits of Tartarus.

    Far and wide it spreads its sturdy boughs, its branches hanging, and in their midst its trunk, the mainstay of its massive shade. When the like of this occurs, plants give up the ghost.

    So, too, Ausonian settlers——who came from Troy—— recited their rough-hewn verse to entertain the masses, and put on scary masks cut out of bark and called on you, Bacchus, in rousing song, and in your honour dangled from the tips of pines tender tokens. Time and again, year on year, vines bow beneath a cloud and sink into the grip of undergrowth——ever more to do!

    Just as apples, as soon as they have sensed a surge of strength along their trunks, stretch quickly for the stars all on their own—— they need no helping hand from us. And all the while wild woodlands teem with fruits, and the preserves of birds blaze with blood-red berries. Have men still second thoughts about setting seeds and the attendant cares?

    What ties me to the theme of bigger trees? Yews are best for the Ituraean bows. If they but knew! There are glades and greenwoods, lairs of game, young men wed to meagre fare but born and built for work. For those with wants he feels a sorrow, not envy for the ones with none. Others rush in rowboats into uncharted waters, and race to take up arms, they work their way into the inner courts and chambers of the king.

    This man aspires to the sack of Rome itself, all its poor hearths and homes, just so he might imbibe from cups inlaid with gems and sleep beneath the coverings of an emperor. That man stockpiles a fortune while he broods on buried treasure. A countryman cleaves earth with his crooked plough. Such is the labour of his life. So he sustains his native land and those who follow in his footsteps; so he supports a team of oxen and keeps cattle in good order.

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    Horses, too, must be subjected to a course of similar selection. On whatever ones you plan to keep for breeding bestow particular attention from the start. Roans and chestnuts are to be preferred, duns and greys to be avoided. His hooves resound as they eat up the ground and spit it out again. The wheels are turning so quickly they burn.

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    On their backs they feel the clammy breath of their pursuers. It was Erichthonius who hatched the thought of harnessing four horses to a chariot and standing up as it sped him along, a conqueror.

    Extreme Enduro - Road to the Sky

    Concern for sires dwindles then and the care for mares increases. This is the pest that Juno conjured once, that time, her ire incensed, she turned into a heifer Io, daughter of Inachus. Time and time again, let them drag an empty waggon, one so light it leaves hardly a track or trace in dust. And so, with one last look, he takes leave of his ancestral realm and then begins to work out hard, with unrelenting exercise, and beds down for the night on rock with only thorny leaves and pointy sedge to eat.

    Pushing, pushing himself, channelling rage into his horns by charging trees, so he assails the air, preparing for the fray by pawing ground and scattering the clods. What possessed them, only Venus, the day his own team turned on him at Potniae and gobbled Glaucus, limb by limb? Nor roaring Ascanius.


    Enough of herds of cows and horses——the last half of my task remains: my report of sheep and goats, woolly ewes and straggly nannies. If we tend these as carefully as sheep equal good will come of them despite the high prices Milesian wool dyed with Tyrian reds will fetch. You know those Libyan shepherds? Should I go on about them in my verses—— their grazing-grounds and huts in settlements scattered here and everywhere?

    The African herd brings with him all he owns, hearth and home, his weaponry, a hound from Amyclae, a quiver from Crete. And never once can Sun sneak through that washy desolation—— not when he rides to reach the heights of heaven, no, nor when his team draws him to dip into the reddening brine. And suddenly, in running rivers, the water grows a skin of bone. The wave can bear wheels rimmed with iron; what once was home to sterns of ships plays host to broad-beamed waggons.