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If an epigram takes up a page, you skip it:
     Art counts for nothing, you prefer the snippet.
The markets have been ransacked for you, reader,
     Rich fare — and you want canapes instead!
I’m not concerned with the fastidious feeder:
     Give me the man who likes his basic bread.

[Consumpta est uno si lemmate pagina, transis,
Et breviora tibi, non meliora placent.
Dives et ex omni posita est instructa macello
Cena tibi, sed te mattea sola iuvat.
Non opus est nobis nimium lectore guloso;
Hunc volo, non fiat qui sine pane satur.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 59 (10.59) [tr. Michie (1972)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

If one sole epigram takes up a page,
You turn it o'er, and will not there engage:
Consulting not its worth, but your dear ease;
And not what's good, but what is short, does please.
I serve a feast with all the richest fare
The market yields; for tarts you only care.
My books not fram'd such liq'rish guests to treat,
But such as relish bread, and solid meat.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

If one small theme exhaust a page,
'Though fli'st upon the wings of rage,
To fewer words, tho' not more fine;
And met'st my matter, by the line.
A rich repast, from ev'ry stall,
We see upon thy palate pall.
We fear a sickly appetite,
Where tid-bits onely can delight.
Out oh! may I receive no guest
Who picks the tiny for the best.
His taste wills tand him more to sted,
Who makes no meal up without bread.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 3, ep. 11]

If one subject occupies a whole page, you pass over it; short epigrams, rather than good ones, seem to please you. A rich repast, consisting of every species of dish, is set before you, out only dainty bits gratify your taste. I do not covet a reader with such an over-nice palate; I want one that is not content to make a meal without bread.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

You have no patience for the page-long skit,
Your taste is ruled by brevity, not wit.
Ransack the mart, make you a banquet rare,
You'll pick the titbit from the bill of fare;
I have no use for suchy a dainty guest;
Who ekes his dinner out with bread is best.
[tr. Street (1907)]

If a column is taken up by a single subject, you skip it, and the shorter epigrams please you, not the better. A meal, rich and furnished from every market, has been placed before you, but only a dainty attracts you. I have no need of a reader too nice: I want him who is not satisfied without bread.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You like the shortest poems, not the best,
Tis those you always read -- and skip the rest;
I spread a varied banquet for your taste,
You take made dishes and the rest you waste.
And wrong your appetite, for truth to tell
A satisfying meal needs bread as well.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

You've read one epigram; the rest you skip;
Shortness, not sweetness suits your censorship.
A whole rich mart's outspread before your feet;
And yet a small tit-bit's your only treat.
I want no gluttonous reader, no, indeed!
Still I prefer one who on bread can feed.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924) ep. 554]

If a poem of mine fills up a page,
You pass it by. You'd rather read
The shorter, not the better ones.
A fear to answer every need,

Rich and varied, and supplied
With many viands widely drawn
From every shop is offered you,
And yet you glance at it with scorn,

The dainties only pleasing you.
Fussy reader, away! Instead
Give me a guest who with his meal
Must have some homely peasant bread.
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

A whole damned page crammed with verse -- so you yawn!
     If a poem's too long you move swiftly on;
"Shorter the better!" is your golden rule.
     But markets are scoured to make the tongue drool;
A groaning board's set -- rich sauces for days --
     And yet, dear reader, you want canapés?
But I don't hunger for diners so prude:
     Hail meat and potatoes -- screw finger food!
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

If just one poem fills a page, you skip it.
     The short ones please you, not the best. I serve
a lavish dinner culled from every market,
     but you are only pleased with the hors d'oeuvre.
A finicky reader's not for me; instead,
     I want one who's not full without some bread.
[tr. McLean (2014)]

Added on 16-Sep-22 | Last updated 16-Sep-22
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One must not always think that feeling is everything. Art is nothing without form.

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) French writer, novelist
Letter to Louise Colet (12 Aug 1846)
Added on 19-Mar-20 | Last updated 19-Mar-20
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