Monday, July 27, 2015


Michelangelo (1475—1564) is considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time. He is famous for his painting on the Sistine Chapel's ceiling — particularly for the scene depicting the creation of Adam — although he didn't consider himself to be a painter. As a sculptor he is known for his marble statue of David (in Florence), and his Pietà, (which is now in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome). His skill as an architect is demonstrated by his design for the dome of St. Peter's, which was completed after his death.

All of these wonders my wife and I were able to see on our recent visit to Italy, which inspired me to investigate the poetry and spirituality of the man. Michelangelo said, "The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection." He also said, "Many believe — and I believe — that I have been designated for this work by God. In spite of my old age, I do not want to give it up; I work out of love for God and I put all my hope in Him."

It was in the 1530s that he began to write poems, about 300 of which have been preserved. The following translation is by the British poet Elizabeth Jennings.


Although it saddens me and causes pain,
The past, which is not with me any more,
Brings me relief, since all that I abhor —
My sin and guilt — will not come back again.

Precious it is to me because I learn,
Before death comes, how brief is happiness:
But sad also, since when at last I turn
For pardon, grace may yet refuse to bless.

Although, Oh God, your promise I attend,
It is too much to ask you to forgive
Those who for pardon have so long delayed.

But in the blood you shed, I understand
What recompense and mercy you've displayed,
Showering your precious gifts that we may live.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.