On a Foolish Astrologer
You fool, why search the high stars to discover
your wife’s behavior while she’s on the ground?
Why look so high? Below is what you fear.
While you inspect the sky for what she’s doing,
she’s done exactly as she pleased down here.
De Astrologo Ridiculo
by Sir Thomas More
Quid inter alta, stulte, quaeris sydera
In humo manentis coniugis mores tuae?
Quid alta spectas? infra id est cui tu times.
Dum iam tu, agat quid illa, quaeris in polo,
Haec quae libebat interim egit in solo.
Translated by Susan McLean
Sir Thomas More (1478-1535), Lord Chancellor of England and the author of Utopia, was known for both his erudition and his sense of humor. He reportedly made jokes even at his own execution. As a young man, More translated many Greek epigrams into Latin, as well as composing Latin epigrams of his own.
Susan McLean teaches English at Southwest Minnesota State University. Her first poetry book, The Best Disguise, won the 2009 Richard Wilbur Award and was published by the University of Evansville Press. Her translations of Latin poetry have appeared in Arion, Literary Imagination, Subtropics, Two Lines, and elsewhere.