Bust of Marcus Valerius Martial, Calatayud (BŪlbilis).

Five Ancient Poems on Literary Critics

A Good Reason

You wonder why I never ask you if youíve read my book?
    Iím not one of those narcissistic bores
who fishes around for praise with such a thinly baited hook.
    Besides, Iím worried youíll ask if Iíve read yours.

(Epigrams V.73)

The Way It Is

You gladly take work as a reviewer, Myron,
but then find fault with every book you read.
You have to learn to moderate your opinion:
you canít be totally honest and succeed.


Short Enough?

You call my epigrams verbose and lacking in concision
    while you yourself write nothing. Wise decision.


Price Tag

You praise long-dead authors rapturously;
the living ones you savage or ignore,
but since your praise canít grant immortality
I really donít think itís worth dying for.


Everyoneís A Critic

Dad, you asked to read my poems, but now, five pages in,
    I see the sighs and stifled yawns begin.
I understand long, complex poems donít interest everyone,
    so this short oneís for you. (Thatís it. Youíre done.)


Adapted from the Latin of Martial by

Brooke Clark

If you have any comments on these poems, Brooke Clark would be pleased to hear from you.