Prologue to the First Satire by Aulus Persius Flaccus

I never did on cleft Parnassus dream,
Nor taste the sacred Heliconian stream;
Nor can remember when my brain inspir’d
Was, by the Muses, into madness fir’d
My share in pale Pyrene I resign;
And claim not part in all the mighty Nine
Statues, with winding ivy crown’d, belong
To nobler poets, for a nobler song:
Heedless of verse, and hopeless of the crown,
Scarce half a wit, and more than half a clown,
Before the shrine I lay my rugged numbers down.
Who taught the parrot human notes to try,
Or with a voice endu’d of the chatt’ring pye?
‘Twas witty want, fierce hunger to appease:
Want taught their masters, and their masters these.
Let gain, that gilded bait, be hung on high,
The hungry witlings have it in their eye;
Pyes, crows, and daws, poetic presents bring:
You say they squeak; but they will swear they sing.

From: Dryden, John, The Miscellaneous Works of John Dryden, Esq.; containing all his Original Poems, Tales, and Translations, in Four Volumes. Volume the Fourth. 1767, J. and R. Tonson: London, p. 290.

Date: 1st century (original in Latin); 1693 (translation in English)

By: Aulus Persius Flaccus (34-62)

Translated by: John Dryden (1631-1700)

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