G IS FOR GREEN FINGER’D VIRGIL

Here’s a poem written  over 2000 years old,  by Publius Virgilius Maro, otherwise known as the roman poet Virgil who was born 70 BC and died 19 BC.  It’s freely translated by M. E. Rose in ‘Green Finger’d Virgil’ from the Pickpocket Books series No. 9 ISBN 1873422105.

AN OLD MAN AND HIS GARDEN

I remember once, under the towers of Tarentum,

Between two yellow fields,

I saw an old man with a few acres of soil,

Unfit for ploughing, or vinyards,

Or even for grazing cattle,

Yet among the scrub he had planted a real garden.

Even when ice held fast robust little brooks, and broke the teeth of rocks,

Under his sheltering walls he had hyacinths blooming.

His the first roses in spring, the first apples in autumn.

He could transplant grown trees and have them fruiting.

There were pear trees, plum trees, lime trees, laurestines

And guarding them all a sheltering column of elms.

What a gardener – and what a bee-keeper too!

But I must get back to farming

And leave other poets to tell this kind of story.

 

 

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