Littera me pavit nec quid sit littera novi:
In libris vixi nec sum studiosior inde;
Exedi Musas nec adhuc tamen ipsa profeci.
Moððe word fræt me þæt þuhte
wrætlicu wyrd þa ic þæt wundor gefrægn
þæt se wyrm forswealg wera gied sumes
þeof In þystro þrymfæstne cwide
þæs strangan staþol stælgiest ne wæs
wihte þy gleawra þe he þam wordū swealg ·
Grande merveille me sembloit
que ceste mite qui embloit
— ainsi com larron dans la nuit —
les mots qu’un clerc ot escrit.
Le dis mange il non seulement
mais le lieu prent il ensement.
Eimy! eimy! par son chemin
cil gobe reliure et parchemin!
Cil engloutit, sans plus ne mains,
tout le labeur de l’escrivain
qui si durement traveilloit
les vers, et les rimes tailloit,
ad fin que soyez plus encline
a escouter la bonne doctrine.
Si de bons livres voulez lire,
ceste beste devrez maudire —
ce truant, ce voleur qui ose
devorer texte, rubriche et glose!
Qu’il avalasse chaque page,
il ne se fera mie plus sage!
Translated by Raymond Ohl
Letters have nourished me, but I know not what letters are. I have lived in books, but am no more studious thereby. I have devoured the Muses, and yet so far have not myself made progress.
Translated by Paull Franklin Baum
A moth ate words. To me it seemed
a remarkable fate, when I learned of the marvel,
that the worm had swallowed the speech of a man,
a thief in the night, a renowned saying
and its place itself. Though he swallowed the word
the thieving stranger was no whit the wiser.
Translated by Samantha Pious
To me it seemed a wondrous thing
a little moth went plundering
— as though a burglar in the night —
the words a lettered man did write.
Not only does it eat his speech
it even takes the place in which
the speech was given, going through
the parchment and the binding too,
devouring all the craft and art
of the scribe, who worked so hard
to scan the verse, to find the rhymes,
that you might be inclined to mind
the teachings crammed in every line.
If you want to read good books,
you ought to curse that beast, that crook,
that greedy moth who dares to scoff
the text, the heading, and the gloss!
Still, swallow though he may, he’s dumb
and won’t grow wiser by a crumb!