"Heaven has a road, but no one travels it; Hell has no gate, but men will bore through to get there."

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Far Sky

From Clements' "Poetry of Michelangelo"-
(inserted here for Jonathan)
The selfless love that unites lover and beloved (who must be 'equal') is the theme of a revealing sonnet, "S'un casto amor," (1532), admirable in it's idealism:

If one pure love, if one supreme devotion,
One fate unite two hearts in harmony,
If grief of one the other's sorrow be,
If by two minds is felt one spirit's motion:
If one eternal soul is made for twain,
Uplifting both, and in one flight to Heaven;
If by one burning shaft two breasts are riven,
Which deep implanted thus for aye remain:
If, self forgotten, each the other love,
With joy, that such sweet intermingling hath,
Each for his own the other's will doth take;
If all twice-told the hundredth part would prove
Of such great love, and bond of might faith-
Shall wrath avail to loose it or to break?

translation- Elizabeth Hall

Romain Rolland hailed this as "one of the most beautiful songs to perfect friendship." This sonnet, with it's insistence on fused lives, wills, and bodies shows how difficult it would have been for Michelangelo ever to find the sort of love he longed for, a love like that which had united Giovanni Cavalcanti and Ficino, who shared only one soul, as De Tolnay reminds us. Michelangelo's intense feelings for the recipient Tommaso Cavalieri gave the younger man, who preferred to accept the more normal life of a husband and father, understandable concern.

The completed fusion of lover and loved one is equally described in another magnificent sonnet, "Veggio co be uostr' ochi" (1530-34), dedicated to Tommaso, which Sheffler claims to be "the most beautiful lyric poem of sixteenth-century Italy."

Through thee I catch a gleam of tender glow,
Which with my blind eyes I had failed to see;
And walking onward, step by step with thee,
The once-oppressing burdens lighter grow.
With thee, my groveling thoughts I heavenward raise.
Borne upward by thy bold, aspiring wing:
I follow where though wilt- a helpless thing.
Cold in the sun and warm in winter days.
My will, my friend, rests only upon thine;
Thy heart must every thought of mine supply;
My mind expression finds in thee alone.
Thus like the moonlight's silver ray I shine.
We only see her beams on the far sky,
When the sun's fiery rays are o'er her thrown.

translation by- Fanny Elizabeth Bunnett

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