Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pieridum Vates

One couplet I shall always remember from my desultory days of studying Latin is this, a comment directed from an exasperated Ovid to Cupid, from Amores, book I:

'Quis tibi, saeve puer, dedit hoc in carmina iuris?
Pieridum vates, non tua turba sumus..."

Which may be (very) loosely translated thus:

'Cruel boy, who put you in charge of poetry?
We are the Muses's men, not in your crowd...'

The reason I recall it now. A variation on Ovid's 'Pieridum', (a crystalline spring flowing through a mild valley in Macedonia once regarded by the Greeks as sacred to the Muse) was mentioned in the poem I was reading this morning on the display screen of my cellphone, between Stamford Station and Mamaroneck: Pope Alexander's Essay on Criticism:

A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring:
There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again..

I guess I have a hangover from the injustice I did to Homer in the piece I published last week, where I pretend to be Ulysses, and I invite you, dear reader, to participate in the whole feckless farce as my partner in crime, my faithful Penelope.

In an effort to placate Apollo, and the other angry, ambient powers of Creation who may be lurking in the shadows, interrupting my sleep, I would like add something to my blog a bit more circumspect in scope, a little less ambitious in effort.

Please accept my apologies Parnassus.

The Poet

The language that he used was plain,
As undistinguished as his face,
He mumbled in a monotone,
And, now and then, he lost his place.

Largely, he talked about himself,
As people do. I understand
His views on Life extended from
A callus on his writing hand.

The critics charged, “This garbage lacks
All pretense of Poetry—
Insisting words evoke no worlds,
They shed no light...” One could see

His powers were quite limited.
He evidently had bad eyes:
The sad result of too much sex
On sandy beaches at sunrise.

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