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This poem is taken from PN Review 184, Volume 35 Number 2, November - December 2008.

from Hesiod's Calendar Robert Saxton

This extract renders lines 383-617 of the Works and Days


XXVII

The farmer's life will make your fortune grow.
Start the harvest when the Pleiades start to rise.
Plough when the Sisters sink from autumn skies.
For forty nights these high-born girls lie low;

when the year rolls round, they swing into view again
as you work to sharpen your sickle-blade.
Wherever there's fertile land this law's obeyed -
in valley, on coastal strip, on inland plain.

To sow your seed, go naked - I'm serious.
Strip to your skin to plough, and strip to reap -
no better way to harvest Demeter's yield.

Strange though it sounds, this is no delirious
rite - it's expert practice. If you herd sheep,
be clothed; but not if your wealth's a golden field.
...


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