If there be lack of art.

 

“Maxima pars vatum, pater et iuvenes patre digni,

decipimur specie recti. Brevis esse laboro,

obscurus fio; sectantem levia nervi

deficiunt animique; professus grandia turgent;

serpit humi tutus nimium timitusque procellae:

qui variare cupit rem prodigialiter unam,

delphinum silvis appingit, fluctibus aprum.

in vitium ducit culpae fuga, si caret arte.”

-Horace, ‘Ars Poetica’ (lines 24-31)

Or, should you not feel like making your own translation, try this:

“Most of us poets, O father and sons worthy of the father, deceive ourselves by the semblance of truth. Striving to be brief, I become obscure. Aiming at smoothness, I fail in force and fire. One promising grandeur, is bombastic; another over-cautious and fearful of the gale, creeps along the ground. The man who tries to vary a single subject in monstrous fashion is like a painter adding a dolphin to the woods, or a boar to the waves. Shunning a fault may lead to error, if there be lack of art.”

 

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