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Michelangelo: the poet

September 22, 2011

File:Michelangelo by Giulio Bonasone.jpg

Many people don’t realize that beyond being a sculptor and painter Michelangelo was also a poet.  Though Michelangelo took great pride in his artwork he had a much more humble view of his poetry calling it, “something foolish”.  Michelangelo wrote over 300 poems.  Many of his most impressive sonnets were written to his close friend Vittoria Colonna, one of his greatest loves and one of his most intelligent colleagues. Along with his poems of admiration and devotion are poems of a spiritual and mystical nature. 

When the prime mover of many sighs
Heaven took through death from out her earthly place,
Nature, that never made so fair a face,
Remained ashamed, and tears were in all eyes.
O fate, unheeding my impassioned cries!
O hopes fallacious! O thou spirit of grace,
Where art thou now? Earth holds in its embrace
Thy lovely limbs, thy holy thoughts the skies.
Vainly did cruel death attempt to stay
The rumor of thy virtuous renown,
That Lethe’s waters could not wash away!
A thousand leaves, since he hath stricken thee down,
Speak of thee, not to thee could Heaven convey,
Except through death, a refuge and a crown.

Translated into English by H.W. Longfellow (1807-1882).

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