But if you plough the good ground at the solstice,1
you will reap sitting, grasping a thin crop in your hand, binding the sheaves awry, dust-covered, not glad at all; so you will bring all home in a basket and not many will admire you. Yet the will of Zeus who holds the aegis is different at different times; and it is hard for mortal men to tell it;
for if you should plough late, you may find this remedy—when the cuckoo first calls2
in the leaves of the oak and makes men glad all over the boundless earth, if Zeus should send rain on the third day and not cease until it rises neither above an ox's hoof nor falls short of it,
then the late-plougher will vie with the early. Keep all this well in mind, and fail not to mark grey spring as it comes and the season of rain.
Pass by the smithy and its crowded lounge in winter time when the cold keeps men from field work,—
for then an industrious man can greatly prosper his house—lest bitter winter catch you helpless and poor, and you chafe a swollen foot with a shrunk hand.
The idle man who waits on empty hope, lacking a livelihood, lays to heart mischief-making; it is not a wholesome hope that accompanies a needy man who lolls at ease while he has no sure livelihood.