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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Author’s Ambition
By Persius (34–62 A.D.)
 
Translation of William Cranston Lawton

WE write, locked in,—one prose, another verse;
Of lofty style, that may be panted forth
With liberal lung. Yes, to the folk, some day,
Spruce in your fresh new toga, all in white,
Wearing your birthday ring, from some high seat        5
These things you hope to read, after your throat
Is gargled clear with trills, yourself o’ercome,
With swimming eyes! The sturdy Romans then,
Losing all dignity of mien and voice,
You’d fain see quivering, while the verses glide        10
Into their bones; their marrow tickled by
The rippling strain!
                What! an old man like you
Would gather tidbits up for alien ears,
Yourself, at last wearied, to cry “Enough”?
So much for pallor and austerity!        15
Oh, evil day! Is then your knowledge worth
So little, unless others know you know?
  But it is pleasant to be pointed at
With the forefinger, and to hear, “That’s he!
Ay, there he goes!” Would you not like to be        20
By a full hundred curly-headed boys
Conned as their lesson?
                    Lo, the heroic sons
Of Romulus sit at their wine, full-fed,
To hear the tale of sacred Poesy.
Some fellow, with a hyacinthine robe        25
Over his shoulders, with a snuffling lisp
Utters some mawkish stuff, of Phyllises,
Hypsipylas, or whate’er heroines
By bard bewailed. The gentry add their praise;—
And now the poet’s dust is happy? Now        30
The stone is resting lighter on his bones?
The humbler guests applaud; and from his tomb
And blessed ashes and his Manes now
Shall not the violets spring?
 
 
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