Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Two sonnets in praise of Dante (1265-1321), composed by M. 1545-46, of which the artist knew the poet's work intimately. In their separate times, from Florence, both were forced into exile.


---He came down from heaven, and once he had seen

the just hell and the merciful one,he went

back up, with his body alive, to contemplate God,

in order to give us the true light of it all.

---For such a shining star, who with his rays

undeservedly brightened the nest where I was born,

the whole wicked world would not be enough reward;

only you, who created him, could ever be that.

---I speak of Dante, for his deeds were poorly

appreciated by that ungrateful people

who fail to welcome only righteous men.

---If only I were he! To be born to such good fortune

to have his harsh exile along with his virtue,

I would give up the happiest state in the world.


---All that should be said of him cannot be said,

for his splendor flamed too brightly for our eyes;

it's easier to blame the people who hurt him

than for all our greatest to rise to his last virtue.

---This man descended to the just deserts of error

for our benefit, and then ascended to God;

and the gates that heaven did not block for him

his homeland shut to his righteous desire.

---I call her ungrateful, and nurse of her fortune

to her own detriment, which is a clear sign

that she lavishes the most woes on the most perfect.

---Among a thousand proofs this one suffices:

no exile was ever as undeserved as his,

and no man equal or greater was ever born.

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)

translated by James M. Saslow
The Poetry of Michelangelo (Yale)