Nectar, vina, cibus, vestis, doctrina, facultas—
muneribus largis tu mihi, Gogo, sat es;
tu refluus Cicero, tu noster Apicius extas;
hinc satias verbis, pascis et inde cibis.
sed modo da veniam; bubla turgente quiesco,
nam fit lis uteri, si caro mixtra fremat.
hic, ubi bos recubat, fugiet, puto, pullus et anser;
cornibus et pinnis non furor aequus erit.
et modo iam somno languentia lumina claudo,
nam dormire meum carmina lenta probant.
(Venantius Fortunatus 7.2)

Nectar, wine, food, clothing, learning, and wit—with your generous presents, Gogo, you satisfy me. You are a Cicero reborn, an Apicius for our times; like one you gratify with words, like the other you nurture with food. But now, pray, pardon, because of beef not digested I’m calling a halt, for the belly is the site of dispute, if a mixture of meats growls complaints. Here, where the ox reclines, the chicken and goose will, I think, flee; between horns and feathers there will be no equal fight. But now I am closing my drowsy eyes in sleep; this playful poem gives proof of my sleepy state. (tr. Michael Roberts)



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)