Vittoria Colonna: Sonnet for Michelangelo recomposed by Anna Key

from Vittoria Colonna’s Sonnets for Michelangelo
Recomposed by Anna Key



No. 23


I wish that the true sun, upon which I
always call, would send an eternal light
into my mind, instead of this weak white
light that undoes my vision; I wish my
heart would go up in flames with your holy fire
instead of warming itself, as at night,
from a safe distance; I wish my weak sight
could fix itself on you alone, Most High,
instead of chasing shadows. If I could
see you, Lord, if I could see you as you
are, then I could stand before you and knit
your bright rays into a garment with true
lines, that my body might shine and be good,
outside brilliant and inside every part lit.

Anna Key is married with four children and lives on a small sailboat with her family. Her writing is centrally concerned with themes of spiritual and ecological conversion, and she has published poems and essays at Dappled ThingsConviviumEvangelization & Culture and Catholic Poetry Room

Author note: 16th-century poet Vittoria Colonna’s Sonnets for Michelangelo’s sequence of intensely searching religious sonnets were written for her friend and poetic student, Michelangelo Buonarroti, the famous Renaissance artist. Not straightforward translations, my recompositions take a central poetic movement and attempt to render it in a contemporary idiom, though I preserve the Petrarchan sonnet form.

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