Storms of Autumn: Georgics of Virgil, Book I., Verses 311-334

(Quid tempestates autumni et sidera dicam, etc.)

BUT how of the autumn stars and storms to sing,
Or all the sleepless vigilance owed of men
When the great heats pass, and the days are shortening ?
Or how of the deluge-laden springtime, when
Upon tender stalks, milk-full, and heads that sway
Light in the acre, falleth a swift dismay ?
Yea, I have seen, when harvest days are early
And the first reapers the golden fields among,
Shredding from slender stems the ripened barley,
Shock as of all the winds together flung
In battle ; then, the very stalks uptorn
By the furious hurricane aloft are borne,
And whirled into the blackness of the storm
The culms and the winged stubble. Or yet again,
Far over the deep, the clouds their squadrons form
And the mighty mass rolls inland foul with rain,
And, like a foe, the flood bursts out of the sky,
And the very aether topples from on high !
Lost now the happy labor of man and beast;
Nor seed nor furrow resists the whelming wave ;
The dikes are full, and the running streams increast
Till they roar again; and panteth each ocean cave
And inlet, and by night the vivid lance
Of the lightning in the Father’s hand doth glance.
Earth shakes as the boltdescends, wild creatures flee,
And slavish fear strikes into the heart of man.
But he, with his flaming sword, smites Rhodope
Or Athos, or the Acroceraunian
Peaks, while the rushing rainfall thicks the sky,
And the wood sighs loud in the gale, and the sea-sands cry.
H. W. Preston.