To Mr E - on his translation of and commentaries on Martial


O Thou, whom Poesy abhors, Whom Prose has turned out of doors; Heards't thou yon groan? - proceed no further! 'Twas laurell'd Martial calling, Murther!

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Tam Dean Burn

About this work

This is a poem by Robert Burns. It was written in 1787 and is read here by Tam Dean Burn.

Themes for this poem

humour poetry unhappiness

Selected for 29 September

James Elphinston's translations of Martial came in for criticism both from Dr Johnson and the Bard. Johnson found in them, 'too much folly for madness... too much madness for folly...'. And Burns was equally scathing about them in letters to Mrs Dunlop and 'Clarinda'. To know Latin is not necessarily to know poetry! Here, enclosed with that note to Nancy McLehose, is one poet's verdict on another - a commentary that needs no translation.

Donny O'Rourke

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