Submit your work, meet writers and drop the ads. Become a member
MICHELANGELO: Modern English Translations

Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) is considered by many experts to be the greatest artist and sculptor of all time. These are modern English translations of his poems and epigrams by Michael R. Burch.



SONNET: RAVISHED
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Ravished, by all our eyes find fine and fair,
yet starved for virtues pure hearts might confess,
my soul can find no Jacobean stair
that leads to heaven, save earth's loveliness.
The stars above emit such rapturous light
our longing hearts ascend on beams of Love
and seek, indeed, Love at its utmost height.
But where on earth does Love suffice to move
a gentle heart, or ever leave it wise,
save for beauty itself and the starlight in her eyes?



SONNET: TO LUIGI DEL RICCIO, AFTER THE DEATH OF CECCHINO BRACCI
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A pena prima.

I had barely seen the beauty of his eyes
Which unto yours were life itself, and light,
When he closed them fast in death's eternal night
To reopen them on God, in Paradise.

In my tardiness, I wept, too late made wise,
Yet the fault not mine: for death's disgusting ploy
Had robbed me of that deep, unfathomable joy
Which in your loving memory never dies.

Therefore, Luigi, since the task is mine
To make our unique friend smile on in stone
Forever, brightening what dark earth would dim,
And because the beloved causes love to shine,

And since the artist cannot work alone,
I must carve you, to tell the world of him!


SONNET: BEAUTY AND THE ARTIST
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Al cor di zolfo.

A heart aflame; alas, the flesh not so;
Bones brittle wood; the soul without a guide
To curb the will’s inferno; the crude pride
Of restless passions’ pulsing surge and flow;
A witless mind that ? halt, lame, weak ? must go
Blind through entrapments scattered far and wide; ...
Why wonder then, when one small spark applied
To such an assemblage renders it aglow?

Add beauteous Art, which, Heaven-Promethean,
Must exceed nature ? so divine a power
Belongs to the one who strives with every nerve.
Created for such Art, from childhood given
As prey for her wild Inferno to devour,
I blame the Mistress I was born to serve.



SONNET XVI: LOVE AND ART
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sì come nella penna.

Just as with pen and ink,
there is a high, a low, and an in-between style;
and, as marble yields its images pure and vile
to excite the fancies artificers might think;
even so, my lord, lodged deep within your heart
are mingled pride and mild humility;
but I draw only what I truly see
when I trust my eyes and otherwise stand apart.

Whoever sows the seeds of tears and sighs
(bright dews that fall from heaven, crystal-clear)
in various pools collects antiquities
and so must reap old griefs through misty eyes;
while the one who dwells on beauty, so painful here,
finds ephemeral hopes and certain miseries.



SONNET XXXI: LOVE'S LORDSHIP, TO TOMMASO DE' CAVALIERI
by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

A che più debb' io.

Why should I confess my desire
with copious tears and windy words of grief,
when a merciless heaven offers no relief
to souls consumed by fire?
Why should my aching heart aspire
to death, when all must die? Beyond belief
would be a death both delectable and brief,
since in my compound woes all joys expire!

Therefore, because I cannot dodge the blow,
I rather seek whoever rules my breast,
to glide between her gladness and my woe.
If only chains and bonds can make me blessed,
no marvel if alone and bare I go
to face the foe: her captive slave oppressed.



Michelangelo Epigram Translations
loose translations/interpretations by Michael R. Burch

I saw the angel in the marble and freed him.
I hewed away the coarse walls imprisoning the lovely apparition.
Each stone contains a statue; it is the sculptor’s task to release it.
The danger is not aiming too high and missing, but aiming too low and hitting the mark.
Our greatness is only bounded by our horizons.
Be at peace, for God did not create us to abandon us.
God grant that I always desire more than my capabilities.
My soul’s staircase to heaven is earth’s loveliness.
I live and love by God’s peculiar light.
Trifles create perfection, yet perfection is no trifle.
Genius is infinitely patient, and infinitely painstaking.
I have never found salvation in nature; rather I love cities.
He who follows will never surpass.
Beauty is what lies beneath superfluities.
I criticize via creation, not by fault-finding.
If you knew how hard I worked, you wouldn’t call it “genius.”

Keywords/Tags: Michelangelo, Italian sonnet, sonnet, sonnets, epigram, epigrams, epitaph, translation, translations, English, love, affinity and love, love and art, beauty, art, artistic work, light
Pedro Mar 31
Lest them forget
my heartbeats and breath
let them hear
all of those who care
I leave this earth
not by will
but by necessity
for this very dirt
by us so thoroughly stepped
from the moment I first cried
has done me rejected
two in a row about the same thing... I wonder what that means
Pedro Mar 31
Upward
onward
till' the stars become blur
and the moon shine no more
to the depths
into the dark
away from you
and far from my heart
free from any ties
chains from this world
I leave my mark
stone carved and statue posed:
here lies me
the one who never was
Michael R Burch Dec 2020
LEONARDO DA VINCI POEMS, EPIGRAMS AND QUOTES

These are my modern English translations of the poems, epigrams and quotes of Leonardo da Vinci. I believe the first six epigrams pertain to the current American election crisis …

Nothing enables authority like silence.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

The greatest deceptions spring from men’s own opinions.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

There are three classes of people: Those who see themselves. Those who see only when they are shown. Those who refuse to see.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Blinding ignorance misleads us. Myopic mortals, open your eyes!—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

It is easier to oppose evil from the beginning than at the end.—Leonardo da Vinci, translation by Michael R. Burch

Small minds continue to shrink, but those whose hearts are firm and whose consciences endorse their conduct, will persevere until death.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I am impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowledge is not enough; we must apply ourselves. Wanting and being willing are insufficient; we must act.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Time is sufficient for anyone who uses it wisely.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Once we have flown, we will forever walk the earth with our eyes turned heavenward, for there we were and will always long to return.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

The great achievers rarely relaxed and let things happen to them. They set out and kick-started whatever happened.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Where the spirit does not aid and abet the hand there is no art.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Necessity is the mistress of nature's inventions.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Nature has no effect without cause, no invention without necessity.—Leonardo da Vinci, loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Did Leonardo da Vinci anticipate Darwin with his comments about Nature and necessity being the mistress of her inventions? Yes, and his studies of comparative anatomy, including the intestines, led da Vinci to say explicitly that "apes, monkeys and the like" are not merely related to humans but are "almost of the same species." He was, indeed, a man ahead of his time, by at least 350 years.



Excerpts from “Paragone of Poetry and Painting” and Other Writings
by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1500
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Sculpture requires light, received from above,
while a painting contains its own light and shade.

Painting is the more beautiful, the more imaginative, the more copious,
while sculpture is merely the more durable.

Painting encompasses infinite possibilities
which sculpture cannot command.

But you, O Painter, unless you can make your figures move,
are like an orator who can’t bring his words to life!

While as soon as the Poet abandons nature, he ceases to resemble the Painter;
for if the Poet abandons the natural figure for flowery and flattering speech,
he becomes an orator and is thus neither Poet nor Painter.

Painting is poetry seen but not heard,
while poetry is painting heard but not seen.

And if the Poet calls painting dumb poetry,
the Painter may call poetry blind painting.

Yet poor is the pupil who fails to surpass his master!
Shun those studies in which the work dies with the worker.

Because I find no subject especially useful or pleasing
and because those who preceded me appropriated every useful theme,
I will be like the beggar who comes late to the fair,
who must content himself with the rejects left by other buyers.
Thus, I will load my humble cart full of despised and rejected merchandise,
the refuse of so many other buyers,
and I will go about to distributing it, not in the great cities,
but in the poorer towns,
selling at discounts whatever the wares I offer may be worth.

And what can I do when a woman plucks my heart?
Alas, how she triumphed over me, and yet I must persist!



The Point
by Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1500
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Here forms, colors, the character of the entire universe, contract to a point,
and that point is miraculous, marvelous …
O marvelous, O miraculous, O stupendous Necessity!
By your elegant laws you compel every effect to be the direct result of its cause,
by the shortest path possible.
Such are your miracles!



Keywords/Tags: Leonardo da Vinci, epigram, epitaph, poem, quote, translation, silence, election, spring, nature, art, poetry, poet, poets

Published as the collection "Leonardo da Vinci Poems, Epigrams and Quotes"
Michael R Burch Oct 2020
Dearly Beloved
by Michael R. Burch

for Suzan Blacksmith

She was

Dearly Beloved by her children, who gather
to pay their respects; they remember her
as they clung together through frightful weather,
always learning that Love can persevere ...

She was

Dearly Beloved by family and friends
who saw her great worth, even as she grew frail;
for they saw with Love’s eyes how Love’s vision transcends,
how her heart never faltered, through cyclones and hail ...

She is

Dearly Beloved, well-loved, sadly missed ...
and, while we mourn the lost days of a life too-soon ended,
we also rejoice that her suffering is past ...
she now lives in the Light, by kind Angels befriended.

And if

others were greater in fortune and fame,
and if some had iron wills when life’s pathways grew dark ...
still, since Love’s the great goal, we now reaffirm her claim
to the highest of honors: a mother’s Heart.

Keywords/Tags: Suzan Blacksmith, elegy, eulogy, epitaph, memorial, tribute, remembrance, farewell, goodbye, last respects
Francie Lynch Oct 2020
Here lies a liar
Because the liar lied here.
Now the liar's stable,
For the liar's inable
To equivocate and lie.
Alienpoet Sep 2020
Sometimes
The world goes on behind my window
I stare out into the suns glare
I wrap myself around my thoughts
and all that I have sought
do I still care?

Sometimes
I am broken beggar
trying to get a leg up
sometimes I want to say
words of meaning
am I still dreaming?

Sometimes
my hearts soft like paper
sometimes it’s hard like a diamond
fashioned with pressure and heat
sometimes I play my songs on repeat
hoping to make my way to someone’s smile on the street.

Sometimes
I bow to the dark
sometimes I look to the stars sparkling in the sky
sometimes I want to die
but I realise life is short
and I love my friends to much to make this life end
so my epitaph will say I loved until my world drifted away
but I left you my words and that’s more than ok.
rach Jul 2020
“whenever the sky is crying,
it means that i’m mourning
so you should feel the guilt,
until you die and wilt.”
—it was the sweetest epitaph
for her who died alone
and became a lone
even in her afterlife.
Dante Rocío Jul 2020
A proof of truthful reading.
That it’s still of me and that I live:
Left out of and in crying,
Its [story’s] departure by pain of death trespassing.
Justly, so.

Every ending sentence of a subchapter
was here a melancholy more punctuating
Than all the statuses of things
Coming and leaving, explaining better
Than silence.

Lace in eyes/meshes of the numbers,
In God’s notebook.
Miracles of joy, of enigmas from Poetry
Poured had been into the study
In navy blue of mathematics.

The beige of rain of each dot
At the end of each subchapter.

Now I know what the blank pages are for:
Literature is a person,
At their death you don’t leave them
without a word, a touch.
You leave, at least, an epitaph,
with beloving or not.
For at one time you both decided
to bear with each other as one.
You let each letter have and bear
its part in your mind’s eye.

Every time you read:
“My memory lasts 80 minutes.”
Ellipsis.

Thank you
ありがとう
Of Yōko Ogawa’s “The Professor’s Beloved Equation”.
I couldn’t let go of all that love in mathematics,
That devotion for the child.
The legacy.
Apprehension in realisation.

We just take it all from God’s notebook.
Thank you Yōko.
Thank you to that bookseller of Toruń
who recommended it to my uncle
for my birthday present.
ありがとう
horseloversmyth Jun 2020
How many times have I climbed this mountain?
How many times sat in the dry leaves at the end of day?
And how many more to come?
Uncountable to me...
There must be a definite number
but to me they are endless.
Endless in number and endless
each in its own day.
Circa 2014
Next page