O notte, o dolce tempo

benchè nero

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti

 

O notte, o dolce tempo, benché nero,

con pace ogn’opra sempre’al fin assalta;

ben vede e ben intende chi t’esalta

e chi t’onor ha l’intelletto intero.

 

Tu mozzi e tronchi ogni stanco pensiero;

ché l’umid’ombra ogni quiet’appalta,

e dall’infima parte alla più alta

in sogno spesso porti, ov’ire spero.

 

O ombra del morir, per cui si ferma

ogni miseria, a l’alma, al cor nemica,

ultimo delli afflitti e buon rimedio;

 

tu rendi sana nostra carn’inferma

rasciughi i pianti e posi ogni fatica,

e furi a chi ben vive ogn’ira e tedio.

 

Oh night, oh sweet time

though dark

 

Michelangelo Buonarroti

 

Oh night, oh time sweet, though dark,

peacefully each labor, at last, will embrace;

farseeing are those who honour you, judicious

and of refined intellect those who exalt.

 

You shatter and break each tired thought;

as vaporous shade the quiet soothes,

the highest tops and infamous depths

in dreams you then conduct, whereto I would part.

 

Oh shadow of death, for which all anguish

will cease, to the soul, to the heart foe,

conclusion to suffering and ready comfort;

 

you make salubrious our ailing flesh

you dry the tears and placate woe,

ending for the virtuous tedium and anger.

 

 

Translation ©Matilda Colarossi

 

Michelangelo composed his first verses in the early 16th century. His poems were, for the most part, a private exercise, an escape. He preferred the sonnet and the madrigal to other forms. The poem “Oh night, oh sweet time, though dark” was written while painting The last judgement (1535-1541): praise to the night, which, like death, is, in a religious sense, not an end but a new beginning.

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