A Farmer of the Augustan Age Perused in Virgil's golden page The story of the secret won From Proteus by Cyrene's son-- How the dank sea-god showed the swain Means to restore his hives again. More briefly, how a slaughtered bull Breeds honey by the bellyful. The egregious rustic put to death A bull by stopping of its breath, Disposed the carcass in a shed With fragrant herbs and branches spread, And, having well performed the charm, Sat down to wait the promised swarm. Nor waited long. The God of Day Impartial, quickening with his ray Evil and good alike, beheld The carcass--and the carcass swelled. Big with new birth the belly heaves Beneath its screen of scented leaves. Past any doubt, the bull conceives! The farmer bids men bring more hives To house the profit that arrives; Prepares on pan and key and kettle, Sweet music that shall make 'em settle; But when to crown the work he goes, Gods! What a stink salutes his nose! Where are the honest toilers? Where The gravid mistress of their care? A busy scene, indeed, he sees, But not a sign or sound of bees. Worms of the riper grave unhid By any kindly coffin-lid, Obscene and shameless to the light, Seethe in insatiate appetite, Through putrid offal, while above The hissing blow-fly seeks his love, Whose offspring, supping where they supt, Consume corruption twice corrupt.