from Vittoria Colonna’s Sonnets for Michelangelo
No. 29 O my soul, the Lord is coming, now chase away the mists that surround you with his clear and holy light. Let it lift doubt and fear like a blanket of fog from a field; face his bright sun with humble courage; embrace the intensity of heat and light which bears down on us, too hot for comfort, here struggling in this earthly dwelling place. It’s hard to grow, and hard to change, and hard to sweat out all the sin and hurt, false desires, failures and false hopes that course through our proud veins; but when it’s done, my soul, when the fires have given up their flames and the sun has heard your cry, God himself will say your name out loud.
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 Things, Convivium, Evangelization & Culture and Catholic Poetry Room.
Author note: the 16th-century poet Vittoria Colonna’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.