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Michael R Burch Dec 2020

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"
Leonardo Tonini Sep 2018
At the cinema they project a movie
And in that movie at a certain point it's raining
And it's a so realistic rain
That I pull the jacket on
Almost to protect myself
Even outside it's raining, or
Perhaps  not.
It's truth this rain that in a dream we dream
Even when it's raining outside?



Al cinema danno un film
e nel film a un certo punto piove
ed è una pioggia così realistica
che io mi tiro addosso il giubbino
quasi a proteggermi
anche fuori sta piovendo, o forse no.
E’ vera la pioggia che in un sogno sogniamo
anche quando fuori piove?
Second poem for the Luton Festival.
Leonardo Tonini Sep 2018
I paved my life with defeats,
diagrams, sequences, sculptures, sound escapes,
wood or stone and what I have got about you:
strength together with strength.
A lightning always finds the ground ,
later (it finds) life, if that were not enough.
I read that she was a telly star
and that the world's engine is not the money.


** lastricato la mia vita di sconfitte,
schemi sequenze sculture fughe di suoni,
legno o pietra e quello che ** di te:
forza unita a forza.
Un fulmine trova sempre il terreno,
più tardi la vita, se ciò non bastasse.
** letto che era una star della tivù via cavo
e che il motore del mondo non è il denaro.
First poem for the Luton Festival of poetry, 29 September 2018. The translation is made by an English poet who lives in Rome.
Lillian May Jun 2018
most visitors
                   usually imagine her
as a            stranger

       Just the same, she looks. But surely
                                                     Leonardo da Vinci
would have understood her.
                             Leonardo would have relished,


a mystery to fathom in a famous frame
smiling from canvas with story to tell
oh lady of the portrait oh lady of fame
the painter captured your face so well
those who study art ponder and ruminate
on the enigmatic pose that doth beguile
no brush strokes conveying your mind state
angles inspected of daubed profile
yet the secret stays ever concealed
baffling them all with slightly turned lip
nothing of the puzzle being so revealed
closeted away in an artist's dip
Leonardo da Vinci yielded scant insight
on masterfully shading the subject's light
Mark Parker Jul 2015
Faded tree figures loom near,
visible as a smear
on what used to be the Mona Lisa.

The great work of art
goes to waste
as its paint is fingered,
by each person,
like its some sort of photocopy,
covering the masterpiece
with old, dirt, and impurities
that are not naturally occurring on skin.

Leonardo da Vinci would be appalled
at our treatment of his gift,
made to be given to one person,
yet he loved it...
and gave it to us instead.
Now stare once again
at its poor condition.
I've secluded myself recently, and spent a lot of time in thought.
Emily Tyler Mar 2014
My heart goes numb
And my stomach turns sour
When it becomes apparent
That best male actor
Has been won by a man
With an alliterative name
And I still have
The same number of
As Leonardo DiCaprio
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