Guest poem submitted by Seema Pai, an excerpt from:
(Poem #1643) The Misanthrope
ORONTE: ... In short, I am your servant. And now, dear friend, Since you have such fine judgement, I intend To please you, if I can, with a small sonnet I wrote not long ago. Please comment on it, And tell me whether I ought to publish it. ALCESTE: Sir, these are delicate matters; we all desire To be told that we've the true poetic fire. But once, to one whose name I shall not mention, I said, regarding some verse of his invention, That gentlemen should rigorously control That itch to write which often afflicts the soul; That one should curb the heady inclination To publicize one's little avocation; And that in showing off one's works of art One often plays a very clownish part. ... You're under no necessity to compose; Why you should wish to publish, heaven knows. There's no excuse for printing tedious rot Unless one writes for bread, as you do not. Resist temptation, then, I beg of you; Conceal your pastimes from the public view.
from "The Misanthrope" (1666). translated by Richard Wilbur (1965). Moliere was the pen-name of Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (1662-1673). This absolutely delightful exchange between Alceste, the misanthrope and the aspiring poet Oronte is from Richard Wilbur's translation of Moliere's play. I think translation is an underappreciated art that could be especially challenging when it comes to verse. This is from a book I own called 'Five Plays' by Moliere of which three are translated by Wilbur. I think the translation is absolutely brilliant as are the plays. After reading it, I wished I had the wit to respond so sharply to several acquaintances who chose to hunt me down (years after we lost touch) only to subject me to the fruits of their pursuits with a keyboard, MS-Word and an empty afternoon! Thanks, Seema