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Ye nimble, honey-making bees,
The flowers are in their prime; Come, now, and taste the little buds
Of sweetly breathing thyme;
Of tender poppies all so fair,
Or bits of raisin sweet,
Or down that decks the apple tribe,
Or fragrant violet :
Come, nibble on, your vessels store
With honey while you can,
In order that the hive-protecting,
May have a tasting for himself;
And that the hand so rude,
That cuts away the combs, may leave
For yourselves a little food.
Translation of W. HAT
FROM THE GREEK OF ANTIPHILUS.
O beautiful bee homestead,
With many a waxen cell,
Self-built-for hanging, so it seems-
That airy citadel!
An unbought blessing to man's life,
Which neither plow nor hoe,
Nor axe nor crooked sickle,
Is needed to bestow;
A tiny vessel-and no more
Wherein the busy bee
From its small boily liquid sweets
Rejoice, ye blessed creatures !
Regaling while ye rove,
Winged workers of nectareous food,
On all the flowers ye love.
Translation of JOHN WILSON.
FROM THE GREEK OF XICIAS, 280 D. C.
Spring-betokening bee !
Yellow bee, so mad for love
Of early-blooming flowers-
Till thy waxen cell be full.
Fair fall thy work and thee,
Buzzing round the sweetly-smelling
Garden plots and bowers.
FROM THE FOURTH GEORGIC OP VIRGIL
First, seek a station where no ruthless gale
Dares the still hive and sheltered bees assail :
Lest they homeward droop, o'erdone with toil,
Inclement blasts their loaded flight despoil ;
Far from the sheep that wasted earth devour,
The wanton bird that bounds from flower to flower;
Heifers whose roving steps the meadow bruise,
And dash from springing herbs nectareous dews.
There let no lizard, armed with burnished scale,
Merops, or bird of prey, their wall assail,
Nor Progne haunt, whose conscious plumes attest
The blood-stained hand imprinted on her breast.
These widely waste, and, seiz'd upon the wing,
To feed their nest, the bee in triumph bring.
But there let pools invite with moss array'd,
Clear fount and rill that purls along the glade,
Palms o'er their porch a grateful gloom extend,
And the wild olive's shelt'ring boughs defend.
There where new kings the swarms at spring-tide lead,
And bursting myriads gladden all the mead,
Dim banks at noon may lure to cool repose,
And trees with hospitable arms inclose.
If sleep the stagnant pools, or currents flow,
Huge stones and willows ’mid the water throw;
That if a breeze across their passage sweep,
And headlong drive the loiterer to the dep,
On many a bridge the bee may safely stand,
And his wet plumes to summer suns expand.
There all her sweets let savory exhale,
Thyme breathe her soul of fragrance on the gale
In dulcet streams her roots green casia lave,
And beds of violets drink at will the wave.
Alike, if hollow cork their fabric form,
Or flexile twigs inclose the settled swarm;
With narrow entrance guard the shelter'd cell,
And summer suns and winter blasts repel.
Dire each extreme; or winter cakes with cold,
Or summer melts the comb to fluid gold.
Hence not in vain the bees their domes prepare,
And smear the chinks that open to the air;
With flowers and fucus close each pervious pore
With wax cement, and thicken o’er and o’er.
Stor’d for this use they live the clammy dew,
And load their garners with tenacious glue,
As birdlime thick, or pitch that slow distils
In loitering drops on Ida's pine-crowned hills:
And oft, 'tis said, they delve beneath the earth,
And nurse in gloomy caves their hidden birth,
Amid the crumbling stone's dark concave dwell,
Or hang in hollow trees their airy cell.
Thou aid their toil! with mud their walls o'erlay,
And lightly shade the roof with leafy spray.
There let no yew its baleful shadow cast,
Nor crabs on glowing embers taint the blast.
Far from their roof deep fens that poison breathe,
Thick fogs that float from bed of mud beneath,
Caves from whose depth redoubled echoes rise,
And rock on rock in circling shout replies.
Now when the sun beneath the realms of night
Dark winter drives, and robes the heavens with light,
The bees o'er hill and dale, from flow'r to flow'r,
In grove and lawn the purple spring devour,
Sip on the wing, and, lightly bursting, lave
Their airy plumage in its undimpled wave.
Ah, fav’rite scenes! but now with gather'd sail
I seek the shore, nor trust th' inviting gale ;
Else had my song your charms at leisure trac'd,
And all the garden's varied arts embrac'd ;
Sung, twice each year, how Prestan roses blow,
How endive drinks the rill that purls below,
How twisting gourds pursue their mazy way,
Swell as they creep, and widen into day ;
How verdant celery decks its humid bed,
How late-blown flow'rets round narcissus spread;
The lithe acanthus, and the ivy hoar,
And myrtle blooming on the sea-beat shore.
Yes, I remember where Galasus leads
His flood dark-winding through the golden meads,
Where proud Ebalia's tow'rs o'erlook the plain,
Once I beheld an old Corcyrian swain;
Lord of a little spot, by all disdain'd,
Where never lab’ring yoke subsistence gain'd,
Where never shepherd gave his flock to feed,
Nor Bacchus dar'd to trust th’ ungrateful mead,
He there with scanty herbs the bushes crown'd,
And planted lilies, vervains, poppies round;
Nor envied kings, when late, at twilight close,
Beneath his peaceful shed he sought repose,
And culld from earth, with changeful plenty stor’d,
Th' unpurchas'd feasts that pild his varied board.
At spring-tide first he pluck'd the full-blown rose,
From autumn first the ripen'd apple chose;
And e’en when winter split the rocks with cold,
And chain’d the o'erhanging torrent as it rollid,
His blooming hyacinths, ne'er known to fail,
Shed scents unborrow'd of the vernal gale,
As 'mid their rifled beds he wound his way,
Chid the slow sun, and zephyr's long delay.
Hence first his bees new swarms unnumber'd gave,
And press'd from richest combs the golden wave;
Limes round his haunts diffus'd a grateful shade,
And verdant pines with many a cone array'd;
And every bud that gemm’d the vernal spray,
Swell'd into fruit beneath th' autumnal ray.
He lofty elms, transpos d in order, plac'd,
Luxuriant pears at will his alleys gracd,
And grafted thorns that blushing plumes display'd,
And plains that stretch'd o'er summer feasts their shade.
Ah! fav’rite scenes ! to other bards resign'd,
I leave your charms, and trace my task assign'd.
To each his part; age claims th' entrusted care
To rear the palace, and the dome repair ;
The young, returning home at dead of night,
Faint, droop beneath the thyme that loads their flight.
Where'er a willow waves, or arbute grows,
Or casia scents the gale, or crocus glows,
Or hyacinth unfolds its purple hue,
Flow'r, shrub, and grove, for them their sweets renew.
Alike they labor, and alike repose;
Forth from their gates each morn the nation flows;
And when pale twilight, from the wasted mead,
Bids the tir'd race, o'ercharg'd with spoil, recede,
They seek their roof, their drooping frame revive,
And shake with ceaseless hum the crowded hive.
Deep calm succeeds, each laid within his cell,
Where sleep and peace without a murmur dwell.
If tempests low'r, or blustering Eurus sound,
Prescient they creep their city walls around,
Sip the pure rill that near their portal springs,
And bound their wary flight in narrower rings,
And with light pebbles, like a balanc'd boat,
Pois'd through the air on even pinions float.
Not Lydia's sons, nor Parthia's peopled shore
Mede, or Egyptian, thus their king adore.
He lives and moves through all th' accordant soul-
He dies, and by his death dissolves the whole;
Rage and fierce war their wondrous fabric tear,
Scatter their combs, and waste in wild despair.
He guards their works, his looks deep rev’rence draws,
Crowds swarm on crowds, and hum their loud applause,
Bear ’mid the press of battle on their wing,
And, proud to perish, die around their king.
Hence to the bee some sages have assign'd
A portion of the God, and heavenly mind;
For God goes forth, and spreads throughout the whole-
Heaven, earth, and sea, the universal soul;
Each at its birth from him all beings share,
Both man and brute, the breath of vital air.
There all returns, and loos’d from earthly chain,
Fly whence they sprung, and rest in God again,
Spurn at the grave, and fearless of decay,
Live 'mid the host of heaven, and star th’ ethereal way.
If wintry dearth thy prescient fears create,
Or rouse thy pity for their ruin'd state;
With thymy odors scent their smoking halls,
And fill th' unpeopled cells that load their walls.
There oft, unseen, dark newts insidious prey,