Horace, from Ars Potica, "Art of Poetry". c. 16-13 BC
Old-school techniques on noding for the Ages:
"Whatever lessons you teach, let them be brief,
so that receptive spirits will quickly perceive and faithfully retain what you have said.
Everything superfluous seeps out of the well-stocked mind.
The centuries of elders drive away whatever is without serious value;
the high and mighty Ramnes keep their distance from gloomy poems...
He gets every vote who combines the useful with the pleasant,
and who, at the same time he pleases the reader, also instructs him. That book will earn money for
the Sosii, this one will cross the sea and extend immeasurably the life of a famous writer."
"Most of us poets deceive ourselves by an illusion of correct procedure. I
work at achieving brevity; instead I become obscure. Striving for smoothness, vigor and spirit escape me. One poet, promising
the sublime, delivers pomposity. Another creeps along the ground, overly cautious and too much frightened of the gale.
Whoever wishes to vary a single subject in some strange and wonderful way, paints a dolphin into a forest and a boar onto the
high seas. The avoidance of blame leads to error if there is an absence of art."
"Pick a subject, writers, equal to your strength and take some time to consider what your shoulders should refuse and what they
can bear. Neither eloquence nor clear organization will forsake one who has chosen a subject within his capabilities. Unless I
am mistaken this will be the special excellence and delight of good organization‚ that the author of the promised poem,
enamored of one subject and scornful of another, says now what ought to be said now and both postpones and omits a great
deal for the present."
"Just as forests change their leaves year by year and the first drop to the ground, so the old generation of words perishes, and
new ones, like the rising tide of the young, flourish and grow strong. We, and everything that is ours, are destined to die;
whether Neptune, hospitably received on land, keeps our fleets safe from the north winds, a task worthy of a king, or a marsh,
barren for a long time, and suitable for oars, nourishes nearby cities and feels the heavy plough, or a river has changed its
course that was hostile to crops and has discovered a better route to follow, all things mortal will perish; much less will the glory
and grace of language remain alive. Many terms will be born again that by now have sunk into oblivion, and many that are now
held in respect will die out if that is what use should dictate in whose power is the judgment and the law and the rule of speech."
"It is not enough for poems to be "beautiful"; they must also yield delight and guide the listener's spirit wherever they wish. As
human faces laugh with those who are laughing, so they weep with those who are weeping. If you wish me to cry, you must first
feel grief yourself, then your misfortunes, O Telephus or Peleus, will injure me. If you speak ineptly assigned words, I shall
either sleep or laugh... Sad words are fitting for the gloomy face, words full of threats for the angry one, playful words for the
amused face, serious words for the stern one. For Nature first forms us within so as to respond to every kind of fortune. She
delights us or impels us to anger or knocks us to the ground and torments us with oppressive grief. Afterward she expresses the
emotions of the spirit with language as their interpreter."