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Thoughts Online Magazine
Collected Articles on Culture & Politics
Book Review: Satires of Horace, A.M. Juster 
15th-Oct-2008 09:57 pm
It's a form of poetry in Latin, and most of the translations either make it heavy and clanking, as if Horace was attempting to write philosophy, or try desperately to make it witty, even if they have to push the jokes into the text.

Here's a different approach: a recognizably English poem with rhyming couplets that is actually a pleasure to read, and has those twists of phrase that Horace was so good at, echoing in your mind after you put the book down. No samples will do it sufficient justice, but I'm going to try anyway:

Alas! Despite remaining unaware
of adverse consequences, we endure
this rule inflicted on ourselves! For sure,
There's no one born without some faults; the best
possess those less substantial than the rest.
As is fair, any worthwhile friend will balance
my deficiencies against my talents,
and if he wants my friendship, he'll place weight
upon my qualities that compensate
for my shortcomings -- if, in fact, they do!

I'm going to quit typing. I began and ended this selection from Satire 3 with unfinished couplets (and it was a wrench to get them out) -- but the poem flows on so beautifully I find I'm reading it aloud just for the sounds.

Worth getting: The Satires of Horace. Check out the more erudite review on the page, but know that the book is as light as a lemon meringue, with the same mixture of tart and sweet.
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