Les Bucoliques ("Book of Bucolics")

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First Edition

Paris, Grasset, 1958.


Et ego in Arcadia... And I too, in Arcadia, did I look after goats with Menalcas and did I look for the lost he-goat, and I threw buzzing stones skillfully enough to avoid the wanderer... On the hills of Provence, in the ravines of Baume Sourne, deep down the gorges of Passe-Temps, often did I follow my brother Paul, who was the last goatherd in l'Etoile.
He would carry a high crook made of cade, formosum paribus nodis atque aere, and like Menalcas he knew how to play the mouth organ, which is nothing but improved panpipes: instead of calamos conjungere plures, and Pan instituit, I had bought it for him in a junk shop in Aubagne: the metal welding replaced the tawny wax, but the thin copper tongues would produce poignantly melancholy sounds.
I would visit him very frequently in his scrubland kingdom: nobody would ever know where to find him. I would look for him, sometimes guided by the remote sound of his mouth organ; often by the smell of the he-goat at spring time; always by my brotherly tenderness, more reliable than a water divining pendulum.
Such a translation into French verse of the BUCOLIQUES ("BOOK OF BUCOLICS") – which might well be the fiftieth, is excused for it does not lay claim to scholarship: it is a translation by the brother of a shepherd who helped the quavering mother goat, treated the hoof of the he-goat, picked all Virgil's plants and saw the golden moon rising across the olive tree branches.