Marco Girolamo Vida

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'Tis not enough his verses to complete,
In measure, numbers, or determined feet;
Or render things by clear expression bright,
And set each object in a proper light;
To all, proportioned terms he must dispense,
And make the sound a picture of the sense.

Marco Girolamo Vida or Marcus Hieronymus Vida (1485September 27, 1566) was an Italian humanist, bishop and poet.



De Arte Poetica (1527)

Vida's Art of Poetry, translated into English verse by Christopher Pitt (1725)
  • Primus at ille labor versu tenuisse legentem
    Suspensum, incertumque dia qui denique rerum
    Eventus maneant.
    • As yet unfold the event on no pretense,
      'Tis your chief task to keep us in suspense.
      • Book I, line 98
  • Jam vero cum rem propones, nomine nunquam
    Prodere conveniet manifesto: semper opertis
    Indiciis, longe et verborum ambage petita
    Significant, umbraque obducunt: inde tamen, ceu
    Sublustri e nebula, rerum tralucet imago
    Clarius, et certis datur omnia cernere signis.
    Hinc si dura mihi passus dicendus Ulysses,
    Non ilium vero memorabo nomine, sed qui
    Et mores hominum multorum vidit et urbes
    Naufragus, eversae post saeva incendia Trojae,
    Addam alia, angustis complectens omnia dictis.
    • But ne'er the subject of your work proclaim
      In its own colors and its genuine name;
      Let it by distant tokens be conveyed,
      And wrapped in other words, and covered in their shade.
      At last the subject from the friendly shroud
      Bursts out, and shines the brighter from the cloud;
      Then the dissolving darkness breaks away,
      And every object glares in open day.
      Thus great Ulysses' toils were I to choose
      For the main theme that should employ my Muse,
      By his long labors of immortal fame
      Should shine my hero, but conceal his name;
      As one who, lost at sea, had nations seen,
      And marked their towns, their manners, and their men,
      Since Troy was leveled to the dust by Greece—
      Till a few lines epitomized the piece.
      • Book II, line 40
  • Saepe etiam memorandum inter ludicra memento,
    Permiscere aliquid breviter, mortalia corda
    Quod moveat, tangens humanae commoda vitae,
    Qodque olim jubeant natos meminisse parentes.
    • With gay descriptions sprinkle here and there
      Some grave instructive sentences with care,
      That touch on life, some moral good pursue,
      And give us virtue in a transient view;
      Rules, which the future sire may make his own,
      And point the golden precepts to his son.
      • Book II, line 278
Be sure from Nature never to depart;
To copy Nature is the task of art.
  • Praeterea haud lateat te nil conarier artem,
    Naturam nisi ut assimulet, propiusque sequatur.
    Hanc unam vates sibi proposuere magistram:
    Quicquid agunt, hujus semper vestigia servant.
    • Be sure, from nature never to depart;
      To copy nature is the task of art.
      The noblest poets own her sovereign sway,
      And ever follow where she leads the way.
      • Book II, line 455
  • Nec dubitem versus hirsuti saepe poetae
    Suspensus lustrare, et vestigare legendo,
    Sicubi se quaedam forte inter commoda versu
    Dicta meo ostendant, quae mox melioribus ipse
    Auspiciis proprios possim mihi vertere in usus,
    Detersa prorsus prisca rubigine scabra.
    • Nor would I scruple, with a due regard,
      To read sometimes a rude unpolished bard,
      Among whose labours I may find a line,
      Which from unsightly rust I may refine,
      And, with a better grace, adopt it into mine.
      • Book III, line 196
  • Idcirco si quando ducum referenda virumque
    Nomina dura nimis dictu, atque asperrima cultu,
    Illa aliqui, nunc addentes, nunc inde putantes
    Pauca minutatim, levant, ac mollia reddunt.
    • Thus when the names of heroes we declare,
      Names, whose unpolished sounds offend the ear,
      We add, or lop some branches which abound,
      Till the harsh accents are with smoothness crowned
      That mellows every word, and softens every sound.
      • Book III, line 320
  • Principio quoniam magni commercia coeli
    Numina concessere homini, cui carmina curae,
    Ipse Deum genitor divinam noluit artem
    Omnibus expositam vulgo, immeritisque patere:
    Atque ideo, turbam quo longe arceret inertem,
    Angustam esse viam voluit, paucisque licere.
    • When first to man the privilege was given
      To hold by verse an intercourse with Heaven,
      Unwilling that the immortal art should lie
      Cheap, and exposed to every vulgar eye,
      Great Jove, to drive away the groveling crowd,
      To narrow bounds confined the glorious road,
      For more exalted spirits to pursue,
      And left it open to the sacred few.
      • Book III, line 358
  • Haud satis est illis utcunque claudere versum,
    Et res verborum propria vi reddere claras;
    Omnia sed numeris vocum concordibus aptant,
    Atque sono, quaecunque canunt, imitantur.
    • 'Tis not enough his verses to complete,
      In measure, numbers, or determined feet;
      Or render things, by clear expression, bright,
      And set each object in a proper light:
      To all, proportioned terms he must dispense,
      And make the sound a picture of the sense.
  • Tunc longe sale saxa sonant, tunc et freta ventis
    Incipiunt agitata tumescere: littore fluctus
    Illidunt rauco.
    • While the hoarse ocean beats the sounding shore,
      Dashed from the strand, the flying waters roar.
      • Book III, line 388. Compare:
        • But when loud surges lash the sounding shore,
          The hoarse rough verse should like the torrent roar.
  • Gratantes plausu excipient: tua gloria coelo
    Succedet, nomenque tuum sinus ultimus orbis
    Audiet, ac nullo diffusum abolebitur aevo.
    • The vast applause shall reach the starry frame,
      No years, no ages shall obscure thy fame,
      And Earth's last ends shall hear thy darling name.
      • Book III, line 522
  • Ipse viam tantum potui docuisse repertam
    Aonas ad montes, longeque ostendere Musas
    Plaudentes celsae choreas in vertice rupis.
    • I only pointed out the paths that lead
      The panting youth to steep Parnassus' head,
      And showed the tuneful Muses from afar,
      Mixed in a solemn choir and dancing there.
      • Book III, line 533

Scacchia Ludus (1527)

  • Ludimus effigiem belli, simulataque veris
    Praelia, buxo acies fictas, et ludicra regna,
    Ut gemini inter se reges albusque, nigerque
    Pro laude oppositi certent bicoloribus armis.
    • I sing the form of war, the bloodless plain,
      Armies of ivory, and a mock campaign;
      How two bold kings in different armour veil'd,
      One black, one white, for conquest fought the field.
      • Vida's Game of Chess, opening lines
      • Compare:
        • Of armies on the chequer'd field array'd,
          And guiltless war in pleasing form display'd;
          When two bold kings contend with vain alarms,
          In ivory this, and that in ebon arms.

Quotes about Vida

Immortal Vida! on whose honoured brow
The poet's bays and critic's ivy grow;
Cremona now shall ever boast thy name
As next in place to Mantua, next in fame!
~ Alexander Pope
  • With sweeter notes each rising temple rung;
    A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung!
    Immortal Vida! on whose honoured brow
    The poet's bays and critic's ivy grow:
    Cremona now shall ever boast thy name,
    As next in place to Mantua, next in fame!

Works related to Marco Girolamo Vida on Wikisource Encyclopedic article on Marco Girolamo Vida on Wikipedia