Egloghe (I, 1-4)

[Iohannes De Virgillio Danti Alagherii. Carmen]

 Pyeridum vox alma, novis qui cantibus orbem 
mulces letifluum, vitali tollere ramo 
dum cupis, evolvens triplicis confinia sortis 
indita pro meritis animarum, sontibus Orcum, 
astripetis Lethen, epyphebia regna beatis, 
tanta quid heu semper iactabis seria vulgo, 
et nos pallentes nichil ex te vate legemus? 
Ante quidem cythara pandum delphyna movebit 
Davus et ambigue Sphyngos problemata solvet, 
Tartareum preceps quam gens ydiota figuret 
et segreta poli vix experata Platoni: 
que tamen in triviis nunquam digesta coaxat 
comicomus nebulo, qui Flaccum pelleret orbe. 
'Non loquor his, ymo studio callentibus', inquis. 
Carmine sed laico: clerus vulgaria tempnit, 
et si non varient, cum sint ydiomata mille. 
Preterea nullus, quos inter es agmine sextus, 
nec quem consequeris celo, sermone forensi 
descripsit. Quare, censor liberrime vatum, 
fabor, si fandi paulum concedis habenas. 
Nec margaritas profliga prodigus apris, 
nec preme Castalias indigna veste sorores; 
at, precor, ore cie que te distinguere possint 
carmine vatisono, sorti comunis utrique. 
Et iam multa tuis lucem narratibus orant: 
dic age quo petiit Iovis armiger astra volatu, 
dic age quos flores, que lilia fregit arator, 
dic Frigios damas laceratos dente molosso, 
dic Ligurum montes et classes Parthenopeas, 
carmine quo possis Alcide tangere Gades 
et quo te refluus relegens mirabitur Hyster, 
et Pharos et quondam regnum te noscet Helysse. 
Si te fama iuvat, parvo te limite septum 
non contentus eris, nec vulgo iudice tolli. 
En ego iam primus, si dignum duxeris esse, 
clericus Aonidum, vocalis verna Maronis, 
promere gimnasiis te delectabor ovantum 
inclita Peneis redolentem tempora sertis, 
ut prevectus equo sibi plaudit preco sonorus 
festa trophea ducis populo pretendere leto. 
Iam michi bellisonis horrent clangoribus aures: 
quid pater Apeninus hiat? quid concitat equor 
Tirrenum Nereus? quid Mars infrendet utroque? 
Tange chelim, tantos hominum compesce labores. 
Ni canis hec, alios ad te pendendo, poeta 
omnibus ut solus dicas, indicta manebunt. 
Si tamen Eridani michi spem mediamne dedisti 
quod visare notis me dignareris amicis, 
nec piget enerves numeros legisse priorem 
quos strepit arguto temerarius anser olori, 
respondere velis, aut solvere vota, magister. 
[Giovanni del Virgilio to Dante Alighieri. Eclogue I].

Sacred voice of the Pierides who with unwonted songs dost sweeten 
the stagnant world, as with life-giving branch thou longest to upraise it,  
unfolding the regions of threefold fate assigned according to  
deserts of souls, Orcus to the guilty, Lethe to them 
that seek the stars, the realms above the sun to the blest;  
such weighty themes why wilt thou still cast to the vulgar,  
while we pale students shall read nought from thee as bard?  
Sooner shalt thou stir the curving dolphin with the harp,  
and Davus solve the riddles of equivocating Sphinx,  
than that unlettered folk shall figure the precipice of Tartarus  
and secrets of the pole scarce unsphered by Plato. Yet these are  
the very themes which are croaked forth, all undigested, at street corners
by some buffoon with comic actor's shock of hair who would have  
driven Flaccus from the world. "Not to such I speak but rather to those skilled
in study," thou sayst. Ay, but in laic verse! Clerks scorn the vernaculars,
even though they varied not, whereas there are a thousand idioms.  
Besides, not one of those amongst whom thou makest a sixth in the band,
nor him whom thou art following to heaven wrote in the language  
of the market-place. Wherefore, thou freest critic of the bards, 
I too will speak if thou yield the reins of speech a moment: 
Cast not in prodigality thy pearls before the swine, nor load  
the Castalian sisters with a garb unworthy of them;  
but I pray thee summon utterance which may out-single thee, 
with bard-like song common to either lot. And even now 
many themes implore the light from thy discourse.
Come tell thou what the flight wherein the bearer of Jove's weapons
sought the stars; come tell what were the flowers, what the lilies, that
the Ploughman crushed; tell of the Phrygian does torn by the stag-hound's
tooth; tell of the mountains of Liguria and the Parthenopaean fleets,  
in verse whereby thou mayst reach the Alceian's Gades  
and whereby Ister may flow back and read and wonder at thee,  
and Pharos and once Elissa's realm may know thee. If fame  
delight thee thou wilt not accept to be hedged in narrow confine,  
nor to be extolled by the judgment of the common folk.  
Lo I, taking the lead if thou deem me worthy,  
clerk of the Aonides, vocal attendant upon Maro, shall rejoice  
to present thee to the applauding schools, thine illustrious temples  
redolent with Peneian garlands; even as the herald mounted
on his steed exults to proclaim, with ringing voice,  
to the rejoicing people the festal triumphs of the General.  
E'en now my ears are shuddering with warlike clang.  
For what is Father Apennine agape? Wherefore stirs Nereus  
the Tyrrhenian sea? Wherefore doth Mars champ upon either side?  
Touch thou the shell, allay these mighty toils of men.  
If thou sing not these themes, but keepest all other poets in suspense,  
they will be left untold by all that thou alone mayst tell. But if  
-- O thou who art embraced on either side by Eridanus' stream --  
thou didst erst give me hope that thou wouldst deign to visit me  
with friendly script, and if thou art not galled to have first read  
the feeble numbers which in temerity the goose is cackling at the  
clear-toned swan, graciously answer me or grant my wish, O master.