Beauty and the Artist
A heart of flaming sulphur, flesh of tow,
bones of dry wood, a soul without a guide
to curb the fiery will, the ruffling pride
of fierce desires that from the passions flow;
A sightless mind that weak and lame doth go
mid snares and pitfalls scattered far and wide;—
what wonder if the first chance brand applied
to fuel massed like this should make it glow?
Add beauteous art, which, brought with us from heaven,
will conquer nature;—so divine a power
belongs to him who strives with every nerve.
It I was made for art, from childhood given
a prey for burning beauty to devour,
I blame the mistress I was born to serve.
Michelangelo was gay but he wrote this poem when
he was a teenager:
The Garland and the Girdle
What Joy hath you gland wreath of flowers that is
around her golden hair so deftly twined,
each blossom pressing forwared from behind,
as though to be the first her brows to kiss!
The livelong day her dress hath perfect bliss,
that now reveals her breast, now seems to bind:
and that fair woven net of gold refined
rests on her cheek and throat in happiness!
Yet still more blissful seems to me the band
gilt at the tips so sweetly doth it ring
and clasp the bosom that it serves to lace:
yea, and the belt to such as understand,
bound round her waist, saith: here I'd ever cling--
What would my arms do in the girdles place?
Kind to the world, but to itself unkind,
a worm is born, that dying noiselessly
despoils itself to clothe fair limbs, and be
in its true worth by death alone divined
Oh, what that I might die, for her to find
raiment in my ownwarn mortaility!
That, changing likethe snake, I might be free
to cast the slough wherin I dwell confined!
Nawy, were it mine, the shaggy fleece that stays,
woven and wrought into a vestiment fair,
around her beauteous bosom in such bliss!
All through the day she'd blasp mee! Would I were
the shoes that bear her burden! When the ways
were wet with rain, her feet I then should kiss!
Sculpture, I call only that which is produced by means
of taking away. Anything done by means of adding on,
is similar to painting. (probably meaning clay modeling)
--Michelangelo in a letter to Benedetto Varchi, 1547
A man paints with his brains and not with his hands.
Beauty is the purgation of superfluities.
I am still learning.
I feast on wine and bread, and feasts they are.
I hope that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
Lord, grant that I may always desire more than I can accomplish.
The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim
too high and falling short;
but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.
The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.
Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.