Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Poem by Michelangelo

A poem by none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564):

A Vittoria Colonna

Un uomo in una donna, anzi uno dio,
per la sua bocca parla,
ond'io per ascoltarla
son fatto tal, che ma' più sarò mio.
I' credo ben, po' ch'io
a me da lei fu' tolto,
fuor di me stesso aver di me pietate;
sì sopra 'l van desìo
mi sprona il suo bel volto,
ch'io veggio morte in ogni altra beltate.
O donna che passate
per acque e foco l'alme a' liei giorni,
deh, fate c'a me stesso più non torni.

To Vittoria Colonna

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 by Longfellow)