Guest poem sent in by Vijay D'silva
(Poem #1269) The Common Collection of Distichs (Excerpts)
Libros lege. Read books. Liber I 18. Cum fueris felix, quae sunt aduersa caueto: Non eodem cursu respondent ultima primis. When fortune smiles, beware lest some ill strike; End and beginning often are unlike. Liber II 18. Insipiens esto, cum tempus postulat ipsum: Stultitiam simulare ioco, cum tempore laus est. To fit th' occasion laughable appear; 'T is sometimes wisdom folly's mask to wear. Liber III 18. Multa legas facito, tum lectis neglege multa; Nam miranda canunt, sed non credenda poetae. Read much and much of it forget: 'T is well T' admire but not believe what poets tell. Liber IV 18. Cum sapias animo, noli ridere senectam; Nam quoicumque seni puerilis sensus inhaeret. Flout not old age while thou dost sense possess; Age ever brings to all some childishness.
The Cato were proverbial couplets popular in teaching Latin. This is a translation due to Wayland Johnson Chase. We've been through quite a few parental advisory committee type poems. Apart from the line in the Monostich which appears as a prologue to the Distichs, I found nothing that I particularly liked. I started out by copying down a few tolerable couplets from each book (Liber) and discovered that I had copied the 18th from each so decided to restrict it to that. The entire set can be found at: [broken link] http://icg.harvard.edu/~chaucer/special/authors/cato/index.html Jaggi pointed out in poem #761 that the Desiderata is "not overly preachy" and Jaggi is an honourable man. Not so for me. The translation of the Cato is preachy preachy and dripping dripping. Barring the first line, I did not like it. What I did like was Chapter 43 of Don Quixote: ------ "With regard to the mode in which thou shouldst govern thy person and thy house, Sancho, the first charge I have to give thee is to be clean, and to cut thy nails, not letting them grow as some do, whose ignorance makes them fancy that long nails are an ornament to their hands" "Go not ungirt and loose, Sancho; for disordered attire is a sign of an unstable mind, unless indeed the slovenliness and slackness is to he set down to craft, as was the common opinion in the case of Julius Caesar." "Eat not garlic nor onions, lest they find out thy boorish origin by the smell; walk slowly and speak deliberately, but not in such a way as to make it seem thou art listening to thyself, for all affectation is bad." "Take care, Sancho, not to chew on both sides, and not to eruct in anybody's presence." "Eruct!" said Sancho; "I don't know what that means." "To eruct, Sancho," said Don Quixote, "means to belch, and that is one of the filthiest words in the Spanish language, though a very expressive one; and therefore nice folk have had recourse to the Latin, and instead of belch say eruct, and instead of belches say eructations; and if some do not understand these terms it matters little, for custom will bring them into use in the course of time, so that they will be readily understood; this is the way a language is enriched; custom and the public are all-powerful there." "In truth, senor," said Sancho, "one of the counsels and cautions I mean to bear in mind shall be this, not to belch, for I'm constantly doing it." "Eruct, Sancho, not belch," said Don Quixote. ------ On the 24th of March, I went to watch a production of Hamlet and returned wanting to send in Polonius' advice to Laertes. The next day I discovered that it has appeared just two days before and Milligan's 'Hamlet' appeared in my inbox that very day. Synchronicity! While searching for 'To thine ownself be true' I came across the Don Quixote excerpt. Getting it to masquerade as a poem seemed to be a long shot. The rest if I may say is a guest poem on minstrels. And that is one of the most pragmatic pieces of advice that I have come across. As Mr. Victor J. Menezes so wisely said at the IITB convocation in 2001 "My first piece of advice is brush your teeth regularly." Eruct - what a cool word! Vijay.