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‘The golden age’

The golden age was first; when Man yet new, 
No rule but uncorrupted reason knew: 
And, with a native bent, did good pursue. 
Unforc’d by punishment, un-aw’d by fear, 
His words were simple, and his soul sincere; 
Needless was written law, where none opprest: 
The law of Man was written in his breast: 
No suppliant crowds before the judge appear’d, 
No court erected yet, nor cause was heard: 
But all was safe, for conscience was their guard. 
The mountain-trees in distant prospect please, 
E’re yet the pine descended to the seas: 
E’re sails were spread, new oceans to explore: 
And happy mortals, unconcern’d for more, 
Confin’d their wishes to their native shore. 
No walls were yet; nor fence, nor mote, nor mound, 
Nor drum was heard, nor trumpet’s angry sound: 
Nor swords were forg’d; but void of care and crime, 
The soft creation slept away their time. 
The teeming Earth, yet guiltless of the plough, 
And unprovok’d, did fruitful stores allow: 
Content with food, which Nature freely bred, 
On wildings and on strawberries they fed; 
Cornels and bramble-berries gave the rest, 
And falling acorns furnish’d out a feast. 
The flow’rs unsown, in fields and meadows reign’d: 
And Western winds immortal spring maintain’d. 
In following years, the bearded corn ensu’d 
From Earth unask’d, nor was that Earth renew’d. 
From veins of vallies, milk and nectar broke; 
And honey sweating through the pores of oak.

Source: Translation of ‘The golden age’ from Ovid’s Metamorphoses,
translated by Sir Samuel Garth, John Dryden et al., 1717. Copyright free.