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You write two hundred lines a day, but don’t recite.
Varus, you are wise, if none too bright.

[Cum facias versus nulla non luce ducenos,
Vare, nihil recitas. Non sapis, atque sapis.]

Marcus Valerius Martial
Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 8, epigram 20 (8.20) (AD 94) [tr. McLean (2014)]

"To Varus." See also 2.88.

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Each day you make two hundred verses, sott,
But none recite: you're wise, and you are nott.
[16th C Manuscript]

You make two hundred verses in a trice;
But publish none: -- The man is mad and wise.
[tr. Hay (1755)]

You countless verses pen, each morn you rise;
Yet none recite: how witty, and how wise!
[tr. Elphinston (1782), Book 12, ep. 8]

Though you write two hundred verses every day, Varus, you recite nothing in public. You are unwise, and yet you are wise.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Varus writes facile verse and keeps it mum.
He's weakly garrulous, and wisely dumb.
[tr. Street (1907)]

Every day Varus writes
Scores of verses, I've heard:
But he never recites.
He's both wise and absurd.
[tr. Nixon (1911), "The Wisest Fool"]

Although no day passes but you compose two hundred verses, Varus, you recite none of them. You have no wit -- and yet are wise.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

You write a hundred lines a day?
That means a crazy brain.
And yet you publish none, you say;
That shows that you are sane.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921), "The Wise Fool"]

Varus, two hundred lines each day that flies
You write and burn. How foolish -- and how wise!
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), ep. 401]

Although you write two hundred lines
Of poetry each day,
You shun our constant plea to let us
Hear your poetry.
Two hundred verses every day,
And I, with luck, one line!
You can't be good, though very good
Of you, sir, to decline!
[tr. Marcellino (1968)]

Although you make two hundred verses every day, Varus, you never recite. You are a fool, and you are no fool.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

He turns out verses by the ton,
But never publishes a one.
He is too dumb to be a poet,
But wise enough in fact to know it.
[tr. Wills (2007)]

Though Varus daily sits and writes --
Two hundred lines! -- he neither tries
To publish verses nor recites.
He's not too witty, but he's wise.
[tr. Barth]

Added on 21-Jul-23 | Last updated 27-Nov-23
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‘Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print;
A Book’s a Book, altho’ there’s nothing in’t.

Lord Byron
George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
“English Bards and Scotch Reviewers,” l. 51ff (1809)
Added on 6-Jul-23 | Last updated 6-Jul-23
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Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can — if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong — to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition. In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist
“Cargo Cult Science,” commencement address, California Institute of Technology (1974)
Added on 22-Jan-20 | Last updated 22-Jan-20
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In the eyes of those lovers of perfection, a work is never finished — a word that for them has no sense — but abandoned; and this abandonment, whether to the flames or to the public (and which is the result of weariness or an obligation to deliver) is a kind of an accident to them, like the breaking off of a reflection, which fatigue, irritation, or something similar has made worthless.

[Aux yeux de ces amateurs d’inquiétude et de perfection, un ouvrage n’est jamais achevé, – mot qui pour eux n’a aucun sens, – mais abandonné ; et cet abandon, qui le livre aux flammes ou au public (et qu’il soit l’effet de la lassitude ou de l’obligation de livrer) est une sorte d’accident, comparable à la rupture d’une réflexion, que la fatigue, le fâcheux ou quelque sensation viennent rendre nulle.]

Paul Valéry (1871-1945) French poet, critic, author, polymath
“Au sujet du ‘Cimetière marin,'” La Nouvelle Revue Française (Mar 1933)

Often rendered as: "A poem is never finished, only abandoned."

Alt. trans.: "In the eyes of those who anxiously seek perfection, a work is never truly completed -- a word that for them has no sense -- but abandoned; and this abandonment, of the book to the fire or to the public, whether due to weariness or to a need to deliver it for publication, is a sort of accident, comparable to the letting-go of an idea that has become so tiring or annoying that one has lost all interest in it." [tr. Maggio]

In the same vein, in "Recollections," Valery wrote: "A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations."

Also attributed to W. H. Auden, Oscar Wilde, and Jean Cocteau, For more discussion of the origin of this phrase, see here.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Mar-19
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