239 Poem By Michelangelo
My lady, how comes it about—what all can see
from long experience—that rough mountain stone
carved to a living form, survives its own
creator, who’ll end as ashes in an urn?
Cause lesser than its effect. From which we learn
how nature is less than art, as well I know
whose many a lively statue proves it so,
which time and the tomb exempt, grant amnesty.
Mine then, the power to give us, you and me,
a long survival in—choose it—stone or color,
faces just like our own, exact and true.
Though we’re dead a thousand years, still men can see
how beautiful you were; I, how much duller,
and yet how far from a fool in loving you.
first published in The Complete Poems of Michelangelo
translated by John Frederick Nims