Thursday, June 01, 2017


Memento Mori

Michelangelo (1475-1564), Rime 21 (tr. ‎James M. Saslow):
Whoever's born must come to death
in the course of time, and the sun
doesn't leave a thing alive.
Gone are joy and cause of sadness,
and all thinking and all speech,        5
and our ancient pedigrees,
shadows in the sun, smoke in the wind.
Once, we too were men like you,
sad and joyful, just as you are;
now we are, as you can see,        10
dust in the sun, deprived of life.

Everything must come to death.
Once our eyes were fully whole,
with a light within each cavern;
now they're empty, black, and frightful:        15
that's what time brings in its wake.

Chiunche nasce a morte arriva
nel fuggir del tempo; e 'l sole
niuna cosa lascia viva.
Manca il dolce e quel che dole
e gl'ingegni e le parole;        5
e le nostre antiche prole
al sole ombre, al vento un fummo.
Come voi uomini fummo,
lieti e tristi, come siete;
e or siàn, come vedete,        10
terra al sol, di vita priva.

Ogni cosa a morte arriva.
Già fur gli occhi nostri interi
con la luce in ogni speco;
or son voti, orrendi e neri,        15
e ciò porta il tempo seco.
The same, tr. John Frederick Nims:
Once born, death's our destination.
As the sun sends time a-flying
none survive in all creation.
End of laughter, end of sighing,
wit and witty comment vying,
famous family crests allying,
—shade in sunlight! wind-torn vapors!
We were fellow mortals: capers
like your own, carousing, weeping,
dusty relics of cremation.

All the one same destination.
We had eyes once, clear and merry,
deepset in the skull, a-glowing,
hollow grots now, black and scary
—such the rubble time comes towing.

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