Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Muse Day: Virgil and his bees

Fired with enthusiasm following the success of the Big Green Leaf, I thought I'd get involved in yet another celebration: Garden Bloggers' Muse Day, which is the brainchild of Carolyn at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.
This is a poem, but it doesn't read like poetry, because it is a translation (not many people these days read Latin fluently, including me). It is from Virgil's Georgics. Virgil was born in 70BC near Mantua in Italy and the Georgics celebrate his love of country life and farming. This extract, from the fourth book, gives advice on keeping bees. It seemed to me to be appropriate, given that there is grave concern currently about the health of bees and issues such as Colony Collapse Disorder. And when I read it, I am transported to a sunny, scented Italy centuries ago.

Let clear springs be near, and moss-green pools, and a tiny brook stealing through the grass;
and let a palm or huge wild olive shade the porch, so that, when the new kings lead forth the early swarms in the spring they love, and the youth revel in their freedom from the combs, a bank nearby may tempt them to quit the heat and a tree in their path may hold them in its sheltering leafage.
In the midst of the water, whether it stand idle or flow onward, cast willows athwart and huge stones, that they may have many bridges whereon to halt and spread their wings to the summer sun, if haply the East wind has sprinkled the loiterers or with swift gust has plunged them in the flood.
Åll about let green cassia bloom, and wild thyme with fragrance far borne, and a wealth of strong-scented savory; and let violet-beds drink of the trickling spring.