Michelangelo Buonarotti – searchable text

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Un uomo in una donna, anzi uno dio’

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 desio
mi sprona il suo bel volto,
ch’i’ veggio morte in ogni altra beltate.
O donna che passate
per acqua e foco l’alme a’ lieti giorni,
deh, fate c’a me stesso più non torni.

A man within a woman, or rather a god’

A man within a woman, or rather a god
speaks through her mouth, so that I,
by having listened to her,
have been made such that I’ll never be my own again.
I do believe, since I’ve been
taken from myself by her,
that, being outside myself, I’ll take pity on myself;
her beautiful face spurs me
so far above vain desire
that I see death in every other beauty.
O lady who pass souls
through fire and water on to days of joy:
Pray, make me never turn back to myself again.’

Sì come per levar

Sì come per levar, donna, si pone
in pietra alpestra e dura
una viva figura,
che là più cresce u’ più la pietra scema;
tal alcun’opre buone,
per l’alma che pur trema,
cela il superchio della propria carne
co l’inculta sua cruda e dura scorza.
Tu pur dalle mie strem
parti puo’ sol levarne,
ch’in me non è di me voler né forza.

Just as, by taking away

Just as, by taking away, lady, one puts
into hard and alpine stone
a figure that’s alive
and that grows larger wherever the stone decreases,
so too are any good deeds
of the soul that still trembles
concealed by the excess mass of its own flesh,
which forms a husk that’s coarse and crude and hard.
You alone can still take them out
from within my outer shell,
for I haven’t the will or strength within myself.


James M. Saslow, ed. and trans. (1991), The Poetry of Michelangelo (Yale University Press, 1991), 235, 305. English translations © Yale University Press, reproduced with permission of the Licensor through PLSclear.