Not only did Michelangelo sculpt the statue of David and and paint the Sistine Chapel, but he also wrote some amazing sonnets! Facile in artistic form, he was also facile in poetic form. In doing the translation, Elizabeth Jennings said “I have made no attempt to preserve the exact rhyme-scheme of these sonnets because to do so would have demanded too great a sacrifice of meaning and content.” Sixteen drawings are also included of Michelangelo’s work. John Addington Symond’s translation (which I haven’t read yet) includes the Italian text.
WHAT should be said of him cannot be said;
By too great splendor is his name attended;
To blame is easier than those who him offended,
Than reach the faintest glory round him shed.
This man descended to the doomed and dead
For our instruction; then to God ascended;
Heaven opened wide to him its portals splendid,
Who from his country’s, closed against him, fled.
Ungrateful land! To its own prejudice
Nurse of his fortunes; and this showeth well
That the most perfect most of grief shall see.
Among a thousand proofs let one suffice,
That as his exile hath no parallel,
Ne’er walked the earth a greater man than he.