With wrestling and turnings and twists
in the battle of words to contend,
O come and behold what the two
antagonist poets can do,
Whose mouths are the swiftest to teach
grand language and filings of speech:
For now of their wits is the sternest
encounter commencing in earnest.
Ye two, put up your prayers before ye start.
Demeter, mistress, nourisher of my soul,
O make me worthy of thy mystic rites!
DIONYSUS (to EURIPIDES)
Now put on incense, you.
Excuse me, no;
My vows are paid to other gods than these.
What, a new coinage of your own?
Pray then to them, those private gods of yours.
Ether, my pasture, volubly-rolling tongue,
Intelligent wit and critic nostrils keen,
O well and neatly may I trounce his plays!
We also are yearning from these to be learning
Some stately measure, some majestic grand
Movement telling of conflicts nigh.
Now for battle arrayed they stand,
Tongues embittered, and anger high.
Each has got a venturesome will,
Each an eager and nimble mind;
One will wield, with artistic skill,
Clearcut phrases, and wit refined;
Then the other, with words defiant,
Stern and strong, like an angry giant
Laying on with uprooted trees,
Soon will scatter a world of these
Now then, commence your arguments,
and mind you both display
True wit, not metaphors, nor things
which any fool could say.
As for myself, good people all,
I'll tell you by-and-by
My own poetic worth and claims;
but first of all I'll try
To show how this portentous quack
beguiled the silly fools
Whose tastes were nurtured, ere he came,
in Phrynichus's schools.
He'd bring some single mourner on,
seated and veiled, 'twould be
Achilles, say, or Niobe
-the face you could not see-
An empty show of tragic woe,
who uttered not one thing.