Qualiter ambo simul paucis habitavimus horis
non fugit ex oculis, dum manet ista dies.
misimus o quotiens timidis epigrammata chartis!
et tua, ne recreer, pagina muta silet.
quis, rogo, reddat eas taciti quas perdimus horas?
tempora non revocat lux levis atque fugax.
dic homo note meus: quid agis? quid, amice, recurris?
si tua rura colis, cur mea vota neges?
scribe vacans animo, refer alta poemata versu
et quasi ruris agrum me cole voce, melo.
per thoraca meum ducas, precor, oris aratrum,
ut linguae sulcus sint sata nostra tuus,
pectoris unde seges gravidis animetur aristis,
pullulet et nostrum farra novale ferax.
nam mihi si loqueris, bone vir pietatis opimae
exsuperas labiis dulcia mella favis,
plusque liquore placet quem fert oleagina suco,
suavius et recreat quam quod aroma reflat.
cum Aspasio pariter caris patre, fratre Leone
longa stante die, dulcis amice, vale.
(Venantius Fortunatus 7.12.103-122)
How often we exchanged verses on hesitant paper, yet your page is silent now and unspeaking to give me no refreshment! Who, I ask, is to restore the hours we have lost in silence? Each day’s light is frail and fleeting, never recalling time past. Tell me, my good friend, how are you and how do you spend your time? If you are working the land, why do you refuse my requests? Write when you have the free time, send me fine poems in verse, and work on me too, like a field, with voice and with song. Drive, I pray, through my chest the plow of your words so that my field of grain is the furrow of your tongue, so that the harvest of my heart springs to life with swelling ears, and my fallow teems with fertile crops. For if you speak to me, good sir, rich in kindness, you surpass sweet honey with your honeycomb lips, and that liquor gives more pleasure than the oil the olive tree gives and more sweetly refreshes than the scent of a perfume. Along with dear Aspasius, your father, and your brother Leo, sweet friend, fare well for many a day. (tr. Michael Roberts)