Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

I read this book slowly, captivated by the life and times of Michelangelo. Historically well researched, this biographical novel is rich with detail. It also includes passages of Michelangelo's poetry and prose. This passage is taken from the time when he paints the Sistine Chapel:

"Sleepless, racked with pain, homesick, lonely, he rose in the inky blackness, lit a candle, and on the back of an old sketch tried to lighten his mood by pouring out his woes:"

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:...

Come then, try
to succor my dead pictures and my fame;
since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this sounds like an amazing book. I am amazed by how common it is for artists and other creative types to be tormented by pain and agony,and it's only between the edges of despair and hope that they find the inspirations for their work.