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Persius – One truth, and one don’t-you-wish-it-were-true

September 4, 2014

(from Satire 1, Book ll.; the starting Latin line number is 115)

                                        … And I mustn’t
Mutter a word? Not to myself? Not into a ditch? Not
Anywhere? Well, I will. I’ll bury it here. Little book,
I’ve seen this, seen it. There’s not one of them who doesn’t
Have ass’s ears! And this secret, this diminutive
Joke of mine I wouldn’t swap for all your Iliads.

(from Satire 5, Book ll.; the starting Latin line number is 95)

                             … It’s against reason, as
A little voice in your ear tells you, to let a man
Proceed with something he’s bound to make a mess of.
The self-evident law of man and nature limits
The actions of incompetents and half-wits.

Translations by W. S. Merwin (1961)

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