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I'm filled with admiration for what you've achieved, and particularly for the hard work and the 'cottage industry' aspect of it.
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Sonnets of Michelangelo
Edited by Michael Ayrton
Translated by Elizabeth Jennings
ISBN: 978 1 857542 44 8
Categories: 16th Century, 17th Century, Italian
Published: October 2003
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
TO GIOVANNI DA PISTOJA ON THE PAINTING OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL
Like cats from Lombardy and other places
Stagnant and stale, I've grown a goitre here;
Under my chin, my belly will appear,
Each the other's rightful stance displaes.
My beard turns heavenward, my mind seems shut
Into a casket. With my breast I make
A shield. My brush moves quickly, colours break
Everywhere, like a street mosaic-cut.
My loins are thrust into my belly and
I use my bottom now to bear the weight
Of back and side. My feet move dumb and blind.
In front my skin is loose and yet behind
It stretches taut and smooth, is tight and straight.
I am a Syrian bow strained for the pill -
A hard position whence my art may grow.
Little, it seems, that's strong and beautiful
Can come from all the pains I undergo.
Giovanni, let my dying art defend
Your honour, in this place where I am left
Helpless, unhappy, even of art bereft.
Michelangelo's poems are like the letters of other artists: they range from formal words of thanks to passionate arguments; they flatter patrons, address lovers - and God; they reflect on art and on Michelangelo's own physical and metaphysical studies. He wears no masks in these poems. Elizabeth Jennings keeps close to his forms, investing in him her own celebrated skills. As in his sculpture, Jennings remarks, so in the poems, 'the dominating feature is vehement energy, an energy which is mastered by a longing for order.' Painter and sculptor Michael Ayrton contributes an introduction to this edition of the intimate work of one of the greatest artists of all time.
Table of Contents
Index of First Lines
Praise for Elizabeth Jennings But there is no sterility here: I defy you to read "A Living Death" and not be on the verge of tears by the end of it ("I am caught up / Within a death that does not die â¦") This is a supremely dippable-into book. Its bulk is liberating, not intimidating. - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, Tuesday 3rd April, 2012. But there is no sterility here: I defy you to read "A Living Death" and not be on the verge of tears by the end of it ("I am caught up / Within a death that does not die â¦") This is a supremely dippable-into book. Its bulk is liberating, not intimidating. - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, Tuesday 3rd April, 2012. But there is no sterility here: I defy you to read "A Living Death" and not be on the verge of tears by the end of it ("I am caught up / Within a death that does not die â¦") This is a supremely dippable-into book. Its bulk is liberating, not intimidating. - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, Tuesday 3rd April, 2012. '[A] fine poet who ... manages to build the richest of poems from the barest of methods' - The Times, 14/12/75 '[A] subtle and remarkable poet ... how accomplished she is' - Alan Brownjohn, Encounter, Jan 1980 'the outstanding thing about Jennings's poetry is its wisdom, hard-earned from grief and religious faith' - Douglas Dunn, the Glasgow Herald, 15/5/82 'in an era dominated by vacuous verbiage, such poetry as Elizabeth Jennings continues to produce is indeed a triumphant anomaly.' - David Gascoyne, the Tablet, 14/9/85 'She is one of the few living poets one could not do without.' - Peter Levi, the Spectator, 19/10/85 (on Collected Poems): 'it contains some of the finest lyric poetry of the 20th century' - Anne Stevenson, The Sunday Times, 14/9/86 'she has shown herself to be a poet who really has a personal vision along with the gift for making it immediate and shareable' - Kingsley Amis, the Spectator, 6/12/86 'Elizabeth Jennings is a highly original and sensitive poet, greatly undervalued' - Robert Collie, the Gay Times, February 1989 'in an agnostic age it is daring to write poems of religious rhapsody and more daring still to write as if the making of poems were a sacred activity.' - James Aitchison, the Glasgow Herald, 7/5/89 'one of contemporary English poetry's major sublunary assets' - Will Eaves, the Times Literary Supplement, 15/01/93 'Her poetry ... conveys a strength of feeling and sincerity that few contemporary poets can match.' - Tom Velickovic, the Bookseller, 16/9/94 'a pleasure, as well as a poetic education, to read' - Gwyneth Lewis, Poetry Review, Volume 84 no 4, Winter 1994 'Elizabeth Jennings is a wonderful poet.' - Hugh Bredin, Fortnight 'she writes with a clear-eyed, simple tenderness which is never mawkish and reminds me of the great 17th-century poet, George Herbert' - Vernon Scannell, the Sunday Telegraph 'She's a major poet of our time' - Germaine Greer
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