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The Herdsmen.

BATTUS. CORYDON.

BATTUS.
Who owns these cattle, Corydon? Philondas? Prythee say.

CORYDON.
No, AEgon: and he gave them me to tend while he’s away.

BATTUS.
Dost milk them in the gloaming, when none is nigh to see?

CORYDON.
The old man brings the calves to suck, and keeps an eye on me.

BATTUS.
And to what region then hath flown the cattle’s rightful lord?

CORYDON.
Hast thou not heard? With Milo he vanished Elis-ward.

BATTUS.
How! was the wrestler’s oil e’er yet so much as seen by him?

CORYDON.
Men say he rivals Heracles in lustiness of limb.

BATTUS.
I’m Polydeuces’ match (or so my mother says) and more.

CORYDON.
So off he started; with a spade, and of these ewes a score.

BATTUS.
This Milo will be teaching wolves how they should raven next.

CORYDON.
And by these bellowings his kine proclaim how sore they’re vexed.

BATTUS.
Poor kine! they’ve found their master a sorry knave indeed.

CORYDON.
They’re poor enough, I grant you: they have not heart to feed.

BATTUS.
Look at that heifer! sure there’s naught, save bare bones, left of her.
Pray, does she browse on dewdrops, as doth the grasshopper?

CORYDON.
Not she, by heaven! She pastures now by AEsarus’ glades,
And handfuls fair I pluck her there of young and green grass-blades;
Now bounds about Latymnus, that gathering-place of shades.

BATTUS.
That bull again, the red one, my word but he is lean!
I wish the Sybarite burghers aye may offer to the queen
Of heaven as pitiful a beast: those burghers are so mean!

CORYDON.
Yet to the Salt Lake’s edges I drive him, I can swear;
Up Physcus, up Neaethus’ side he lacks not victual there,
With dittany and endive and foxglove for his fare.

BATTUS.
Well, well! I pity AEgon. His cattle, go they must
To rack and ruin, all because vain-glory was his lust.
The pipe that erst he fashioned is doubtless scored with rust?

CORYDON.
Nay, by the Nymphs! That pipe he left to me, the self-same day
He made for Pisa: I am too a minstrel in my way:
Well the flute-part in ‘Pyrrhus’ and in ‘Glauca’ can I play.
I sing too ‘Here’s to Croton’ and ’Zacynthus O ‘tis fair,’
And ’Eastward to Lacinium:’ the bruiser Milo there
His single self ate eighty loaves; there also did he pull
Down from its mountain-dwelling, by one hoof grasped, a bull,
And gave it Amaryllis: the maidens screamed with fright;
As for the owner of the bull he only laughed outright.

BATTUS.
Sweet Amaryllis! thou alone, though dead, art unforgot.
Dearer than thou, whose light is quenched, my very goats are not.
Oh for the all-unkindly fate that’s fallen to my lot!

CORYDON.
Cheer up, brave lad! tomorrow may ease thee of thy pain:
Aye for the living are there hopes, past’ hoping are the slain:
And now Zeus sends us sunshine, and now he sends us rain.

BATTUS.
I’m better. Beat those young ones off! E’en now their teeth attack
That olive’s shoots, the graceless brutes! Back, with your white face,
back!

CORYDON.
Back to thy hill, Cymaetha! Great Pan, how deaf thou art!
I shall be with thee presently, and in the end thou’lt smart.
I warn thee, keep thy distance. Look, up she creeps again!
Oh were my hare-crook in nay hand, I’d give it to her then!

BATTUS.
For heaven’s sake, Corydon, look here! Just now a bramble-spike
Ran, there, into my instep and oh how deep they strike,
Those lancewood-shafts! A murrain light on that calf, I say!
I got it gaping after her. Canst thou discern it, pray?

CORYDON.
Ay, ay; and here I have it, safe in my finger-nails.

BATTUS.
Eh! at how slight a matter how tall a warrior quails!

CORYDON.
Ne’er range the hill-crest, Battus, all sandal-less and bare:
Because the thistle and the thorn lift aye their plumed heads there.

BATTUS.
Say, Corydon, does that old man we wot of (tell me please!)
Still haunt the dark-browed little girl whom once he used to tease?

CORYDON.
Ay my poor boy, that doth he: I saw them yesterday
Down by the byre; and, trust me, loving enough were they.

BATTUS.
Well done, my veteran light-o’-love! In deeming thee mere man,
I wronged thy sire: some Satyr he, or an uncouth-limbed Pan.