Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): from The Importance of Being Earnest

Translated by Timothy Adès

A: tristia fata iubent: similis fit femina matri:
    non fit vir similis (tristia fata!) suae.
J: nonne sapis? A: pulchro modulor! sat vera loquela est:
    haud nimium veram suavibus esse decet.
J: quippe salis taedet. coepit iam quisque lepores:
    occurrit lepidus, quicquid inibis iter.
    laeditur immenso lepidorum publica damno
    res. date, di, stultis posse manere! A: manent.
J: nosse velim certe. quo more loquuntur? A: inepti?
    de lepidis. J: o mens stulta et inepta gregis!
Algernon: All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That’s his.
Jack: Is that clever?
Algernon: It is perfectly phrased! And quite as true as any observation in civilised life should be.
Jack: I am sick to death of cleverness. Everybody is clever nowadays. You can’t go anywhere without meeting clever people. The thing has become an absolute public nuisance. I wish to goodness we had a few fools left.
Algernon: We have.
Jack: I should extremely like to meet them. What do they talk about?
Algernon: The fools? Oh, about the clever people, of course.
Jack: What fools.
Translation: Copyright © Timothy Adès

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