Carcanet Press Logo
Quote of the Day
an admirable concern to keep lines open to writing in Ireland, Scotland, Wales and America.
Seamus Heaney

Sonnets of Michelangelo


Edited by Michael Ayrton

Translated by Elizabeth Jennings

Cover Picture of Sonnets of Michelangelo
Categories: 16th Century, 17th Century, Italian
Imprint: Fyfield Books
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (144 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2003)
Out of Stock
  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Author
  • Contents
  • Reviews

    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


    Translator's Note

    The Sonnets

    Index of First Lines

    Michaelangelo (1475-1564) was thought to be the greatest painter and sculptor of his generation and his reputation is still undiminished. He was born in Caprese, Italy, and was apprenticed to Domenico Ghirlandaio and later to a sculptor, Bertoldo. He worked on the Sistine Chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512. His other ... read more
    Michael Ayrton
    As well as his writing, Michael Ayrton distinguished himself as an artist - a painter, printmaker, sculptor and designer - and also as a critic and broadcaster. After being educated in London and Paris, Ayrton attempted to join the Spanish Civil war on the side of the Republicans, only to be ... read more
    Elizabeth Jennings
    Elizabeth Jennings was born in Boston, Lincolnshire in 1926, and lived most of her life in Oxford, where she moved in 1932. She was educated at Rye St Antony and Oxford High School before reading English at St Anne’s College, Oxford, where she began a B.Litt., but left to pursue a ... read more
    Praise for Elizabeth Jennings 'Anyone who likes poetry will love it if you get them Carcanet's Collected Poems of Elizabeth Jennings. It costs a bit but you do get well over 1,000 poems, with barely a duff one; heck, you could even give it to someone who doesn't like poetry, and suggest it will change their mind.'
    Nicholas Lezard, the Guardian, 1st December, 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") This is a supremely dippable-into book. Its bulk is liberating, not intimidating.'
    Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian, Tuesday 3rd April, 2012.
    'Offers a broad selection of her best work ... in all its tenderness, insight and acute, stepping-on-ice vulnerability'

    Michael Glover, The Tablet.

    'it contains some of the finest lyric poetry of the 20th century'
    Anne Stevenson, The Sunday Times, September 14th 1986
Share this...
The Carcanet Blog Singapore Casket: Jee Leong Koh read more Zest in the art of living: Iain Bamforth read more Invitation to View: Peter Scupham read more Scale: Mina Gorji read more Forrest Gander on Coral Bracho: A Profile read more The Feeling Sonnets: Eugene Ostashevsky read more
Find your local bookshop logo
Arts Council Logo
We thank the Arts Council England for their support and assistance in this interactive Project.
This website ©2000-2022 Carcanet Press Ltd