. . . may I delight in the rural fields
And the little brooks that make their way through valleys
And in obscurity love the woods and rivers.
--from the second Georgic
John Dryden called Virgil's Georgics, written between 37-30 BCE, "the best poem by the best poet." The poem, newly translated by the poet and translator David Ferry, is one of the great songs, maybe the greatest we have, of human accomplishment in difficult--and beautiful--circumstances, and in the context of all we share in nature.
The Georgics celebrates the crops, trees, and animals, and, above all, the human beings who care for them. It takes the form of teaching about this care: the tilling of fields, the tending of vines, the raising of the cattle and the bees. There's joy in the detail of Virgil's descriptions of work well done, and ecstatic joy in his praise of the very life of things, and passionate commiseration too, because of the vulnerability of men and all other creatures, with all they have to contend with: storms, and plagues, and wars, and all mischance.
"David Ferry’s translation of the enchanting ‘Georgics’ is for poetry lovers like a drink of water from a country spring on a summer day. It’s refreshing, invigorating, almost intoxicating in the pleasure of discovery it offers . . . [The ‘Georgics’] may well, in its vividness, in its exactitude, be [Ferry’s] most winning and impressive translation yet . . . To glorify, to sing of things just as they are, was Virgil’s great task in the ‘Georgics.’ Ferry’s task has been to present to the modern English reader Virgil’s great and affecting poem in all its grandeur and simplicity." –Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times
From the Inside Flap