On the Painting of the Sistine Chapel
To Giovanni da Posta
I’ho già fatto un gozzo
I’ve grown a goiter 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 toward 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 straight;
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, my Giovanni, and do try
To succour my dead pictures and my fame,
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.
(Translated by John Addington Symons, edited by Michael Martin)