Forty-nine of us, forty-eight men and one woman, lay on the green waiting for the spike to open. We were too tired to talk much. We just sprawled about exhaustedly, with home-made cigarettes sticking out of our scrubby faces.
Other themes, which else had charmed with song some idle fancy, are now all trite. Who knows not pitiless Eurystheus, or the altars of detested Busiris? I must essay a path whereby I, too, may rise from earth and fly victorious on the lips of men. I first, if life but remain, will return to my country, bringing the Muses with me in triumph from the Aonian peak; first I will bring back to you, Mantua, the palms of Idumaea, and on the green plain will set up a temple in marble beside the water, where great Mincius wanders in lazy windings and fringes his banks with slender reeds.
In the midst I will have Caesar, and he shall possess the shrine. In his honour I, a victor resplendent in Tyrian purple, will drive a hundred four-horse chariots beside the stream. For me all Greece will leave Alpheus [Olympia] and the groves of Molorcus [Nemea], to compete in the foot race and with the brutal boxing glove.
My brows graced with leaves of cut olive, I myself will award the prizes. Even now I long to escort the stately procession to the shrine and witness the slaughter of steers; and see how Britons raise the crimson curtain they Blood toil tears and sweat essay woven into.
Without your inspiration my mind can essay no lofty theme; arise then, break with slow delay!
The best-formed cow is fierce looking, her head ugly, her neck thick, and her dewlaps hanging down from chin to legs.
Moreover, her long flank has no limit; all points are large, even the feet; and under the crooked horns are shaggy ears.
The age to bear motherhood and lawful wedlock ends before the tenth year, and begins after the fourth; the rest of their life is neither fit for breeding nor strong for the plough.
Meantime, while lusty youth still abides in the herds, let loose the males; be first to send your cattle to mate, and supply stock after stock by breeding.
Ever will there be some cows whose mould you would wish to change; ever, I pray, renew them, and, lest too late you regret your losses, keep in advance, and year by year choose new stock for the herd. Only, upon those whom you mean to rear for the hope of the race, be sure to spend special pains, even from their early youth.
From the first, the foal of a noble breed steps higher in the fields and brings down his feet lightly. Boldly he leads the way, braves threatening rivers, entrusts himself to an untried bridge, and stars not at idle sounds.
His neck is high, his head clean-cut, his belly short, his back plump, and his gallant chest is rich in muscles. Good colours are bay and grey; the worst, white and dun.
Again, should he but hear afar the clash of arms, he cannot keep his place; he pricks up his ears, quivers his limbs, and snorting rolls beneath his nostrils the gathered fire.
His mane is thick and, as he tosses it, falls back on his right shoulder. A double ridge runs along his loins; his hoof scoops out the ground, and the solid horn gives it a deep ring.
Such was Cyllarus, tamed by the reins of Amyclaean Pollux, and those whose fame Greek poets recount, the two steeds of Mars, and the pair of the great Achilles. The aged stallion is cold to passion, and he vainly struggles with a thankless task; when he comes to the fray his ardour is futile — as when a great fire rages in the stubble, but there is not strength in it.
Therefore note above all their spirit and years; then, other merits and the stock of their sires, the grief each shows at defeat or the pride in victory.
On they press with circling lash, bending forward to slacken rein; fiercely flies the glowing wheel. Now sinking low, now raised aloft, they seem to be borne through empty air and to soar skyward.
No rest, not stay is there; but a cloud of yellow sand mounts aloft, and they are wet with the foam and the breath of those in pursuit: Erichthonius first dared to couple four steeds to the car, and to stand victorious over the flying wheels.Essays Related to Blood, Toil, And Sweat.
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