To Giovanni Da Pistoja. On The Painting Of The Sistine Chapel.

A poem by Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni

I' ho già fatto un gozzo.


I've grown a goitre by dwelling in this den--
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they hap to be--
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:
My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro;
In front my skin grows loose and long; behind,
By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;
For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
Come then, Giovanni, try
To succour my dead pictures and my fame;
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

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