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This poem is taken from PN Review 25, Volume 8 Number 5, May - June 1982.

The Fourth Georgic (translated by Robert Wells) Virgil

LET me sweeten my poem with honey for its theme
The gift of the sky. Permit me now; Maecenas,
To present for your entertainment a miniature state:
I will give an account of its fierce-hearted leaders,
Its orderly tribes, their manners, their pursuits, their wars.
Is the subject too slight? Who will slight a poet's pains
If gods do not grudge him and Apollo hears his call?

First you must settle on a place to put the hives-
Look for a sheltered spot, not used for grazing.
Wind prevents bees from carrying home their food;
Sheep and goats beat the flowers down; wandering cattle
Scatter field-dew and wear the rich turf thin.
Keep away the lizards with bright green scaly backs
And harmful birds like the bee-eater and the swallow,
Its breast-feathers stained by Procne's hand for a sign.
These do great damage, snatching the bees from flight-
...


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