Lucilius: R


The letter R…a cur enraged snarls it
more clearly than a man can.

You, whom I once honored as a fair man,
took sudden joy in cutting me with slander.
You gutted, plucked and stuffed me,
lambasted me with ridicule: because your verses
lay like wormfood on neglected shelves,
you publicly recited mine in a ruinous rasp.

And got away with it. I rushed at you
courageously, calling you a rotmouthed wretch,
a robber, a wrinkled rhinoceros. Now
that your poems again are read with mine,
you ask me to apologize. I won’t.
I made no error when I growled at you

in doggish. It’s not my fault
that R errs in its own name.

Translated by Janet Lembke

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