Friday, March 13, 2015


You Like Being Considered Obscure

Marc-Antoine Muret (1526-1585), "In Paulum" (i.e. "Against Paulus"), in The Iuvenilia of Marc-Antoine Muret. With a translation, introduction, notes, and commentary by Kirk M. Summers (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2006), pp. 114-117 (indentation of the Latin altered by me from lines 6 to 10):
Recently I looked over the poems you had written,
and I swear I read them three and four times.
And yet, I wasn't able to understand what they mean.
You're in the habit of writing so obscurely, Paulus.
For, so far as I can tell, you stuff your verses with words
you've taken from the Sibylline books, words that were
already too old in the days of Cato.
You like being considered obscure,
as if you've shrouded everything in a mist.
This is your only mistake, Paulus, that when you send your poems,
you should also send a philologist.

Quae tu condideras, inspexi carmina nuper,
    Lectaque sunt, fateor, terque quaterque mihi;
Nec tamen evalui cognoscere quid sibi vellent.
    Usque adeo obscure scribere, Paule, soles.
Nam tu verba, puto, ex libris accepta Sibyllae,
    Quaeque Catonis erant tempore prisca nimis,
Versibus infercis gaudesque obscurus haberi
    Et velut inducta singula nube tegis:
Errasti hoc tantum, quod mittens carmina, Paule,
    Debueras una mittere grammaticum.
Hat tip: Ian Jackson.

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