When spring begins and the ice-locked streams begin To flow down from the snowy hills above And the clods begin to crumble in the breeze, The time has come for my groaning ox to drag My heavy plow across the fields, so that The plow blade shines as the furrow rubs against it. Not till the earth has been twice plowed, so twice Exposed to sun and twice to coolness will It yield what the farmer prays for; then will the barn Be full to bursting with the gathered grain, And yet if the field's unknown and new to us, Before our plow breaks open the soil at all, It's necessary to study the ways of the winds And the changing ways of the skies, and also to know The history of the planting in that ground, What crops will prosper there and what will not. In one place grain grows best, in another, vines; Another's good for the cultivation of trees; In still another the grain turns green unbidden.
From The Georgics of Virgil, translated by David Ferry. Copyright © 2005 by David Ferry. Reprinted with permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.