Art In Words: Poetry of Michelangelo

We all know Michelangelo Buonarroti as one of the greatest masters of sculpture in history. But fine art wasn’t enough for his passionate heart and he expressed his attitude towards the world in poetry as well. And here’s one of his wonderful pieces – The Artist And His Work.

How can that be, lady, which all men learn
By long experience? Shapes that seem alive,
Wrought in hard mountain marble, will survive
Their maker, whom the years to dust return!
Thus to effect cause yields. Art hath her turn,
And triumphs over Nature. I, who strive
With Sculpture, know this well; her wonders live
In spite of time and death, those tyrants stern.
So I can give long life to both of us
In either way, by colour or by stone,
Making the semblance of thy face and mine.
Centuries hence when both are buried, thus
Thy beauty and my sadness shall be shown,
And men shall say, ‘For her ’twas wise to pine.’ 

The original text:

michelangelo-01Com’esser, donna, può quel c’alcun vede
per lunga sperïenza, che più dura
l’immagin viva in pietra alpestra e dura
che ’l suo fattor, che gli anni in cener riede?
La causa a l’effetto inclina e cede,
onde dall’arte è vinta la natura.
I’ ’l so, che ’l pruovo in la bella scultura,
c’all’opra il tempo e morte non tien fede.
Dunche, posso ambo noi dar lunga vita
in qual sie modo, o di colore o sasso,
di noi sembrando l’uno e l’altro volto;
sì che mill’anni dopo la partita,
quante voi bella fusti e quant’io lasso
si veggia, e com’amarvi i’ non fu’ stolto.

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