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The Misanthrope -- Moliere

Guest poem submitted by Seema Pai, an excerpt from:
(Poem #1643) The Misanthrope
 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.

 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.
-- Moliere
 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!


37 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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HI, nice poem thanks, those words remembers me once when I said to a exfriend, because he betrayed me and said to him something similar.
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