Invocation Before The 'Georgics'
by Luke Milbourne (1649-1720)
Published in The Life Of Dryden by Samuel Johnson

THE invocation before the 'Georgics' is here inserted from Mr. Milbourne's version, that according to his own proposal, his verses may be compared with those which he censures:—

'What makes the richest tilth, beneath what signs
To plough, and when to match your elms and vines;
What care with flocks and what with herds agrees,
And all the management of frugal bees,
I sing, Maecenas! Ye immensely clear,
Vast orbs of light which guide the rolling year;
Bacchus, and mother Ceres, if by you
We fattening corn for hungry mast pursue,
If, taught by you, we first the cluster prest,
And thin cold streams with spritely juice refresht,
Ye fawns the present numens of the field,
Wood nymphs and fawns, your kind assistance yield,
Your gifts I sing! and thou, at whose feared stroke
From rending earth the fiery courser broke,
Great Neptune, O assist my artful song!
And thou to whom the woods and groves belong,
Whose snowy heifers on her flowery plains
In mighty herds the Caean Isle maintains!
Pan, happy shepherd, if thy cares divine,
E'er to improve thy Maenalus incline;
Leave thy Lycaean wood and native grove,
And with thy lucky smiles our work approve!
Be Pallas too, sweet oil's inventor, kind;
And he, who first the crooked plough designed!
Sylvanus, god of all the woods appear,
Whose hands a new-drawn tender cypress bear!
Ye gods and goddesses who e'er with love,
Would guard our pastures, and our fields improve!
You, who new plants from unsown lands supply;
And with condensing clouds obscure the sky,
And drop 'em softly thence in fruitful showers,
Assist my enterprise, ye gentler powers!

And thou, great Caesar! though we know not yet
Among what gods thou'lt fix thy lofty seat,
Whether thou'lt be the kind tutelar god
Of thy own Rome; or with thy awful nod,
Guide the vast world, while thy great hand shall bear
The fruits and seasons of the turning year,
And thy bright brows thy mother's myrtles wear:
Whether thou'lt all the boundless ocean sway,
And seamen only to thyself shall pray,
Thule, the farthest island, kneel to thee,
And, that then mayst her son by marriage be,
Tethys will for the happy purchase yield
To make a dowry of her watery field;
Whether thou'lt add to heaven a brighter sign,
And o'er the summer months serenely shine;
Where between Cancer and Erigone,
There yet remains a spacious room for thee.
Where the hot Scorpion too his arms declines,
And more to thee than half his arch resigns;
Whatever thou'lt be; for sure the realms below
No just pretence to thy command can show:
No such ambition sways thy vast desires,
Though Greece her own Elysian fields admires.
And now, at last, contented Proserpine
Can all her mother's earnest prayers decline.
Whatever thou'lt be. O guide our gentle course,
And with thy smiles our bold attempts enforce;
With me the unknowing rustics' wants relieve,
And, though on earth, our sacred vows receive!'
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