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[Greek: Chruseon chalkeia]





After some deliberation, and at the risk of offending the sensibility
of scholars, I have adopted the old English spelling of Michael
Angelo's name, feeling that no orthographical accuracy can outweigh the
associations implied in that familiar title. Michael Angelo has a place
among the highest with Homer and Titian, with Virgil and Petrarch, with
Raphael and Paul; nor do I imagine that any alteration for the better
would be effected by substituting for these time-honoured names Homêros
and Tiziano, Vergilius and Petrarca, Raffaello and Paulus.

I wish here to express my heartiest thanks to Signore Pasquale Villari
for valuable assistance kindly rendered in the interpretation of some
difficult passages of Campanella, and to Signore V. de Tivoli for
calling my attention to the sonnet of Michael Angelo deciphered by him
on the back of a drawing in the Taylor Gallery at Oxford.

Portions both of the Introduction and the Translations forming this
volume, have already appeared in the 'Contemporary Review' and the
'Cornhill Magazine.'


_Dec. 1877._











It is with diffidence that I offer a translation of Michael Angelo's
sonnets, for the first time completely rendered into English rhyme, and
that I venture on a version of Campanella's philosophical poems. My
excuse, if I can plead any for so bold an attempt, may be found in
this - that, so far as I am aware, no other English writer has dealt
with Michael Angelo's verses since the publication of his autograph;
while Campanella's sonnets have hitherto been almost utterly unknown.

Something must be said to justify the issue of poems so dissimilar in a
single volume. Michael Angelo and Campanella represent widely sundered,
though almost contemporaneous, moments in the evolution of the Italian
genius. Michael Angelo was essentially an artist, living in the prime
of the Renaissance. Campanella was a philosopher, born when the
Counter-Reformation was doing all it could to blight the free thought
of the sixteenth century; and when the modern spirit of exact enquiry,
in a few philosophical martyrs, was opening a new stage for European
science. The one devoted all his mental energies to the realisation of
beauty: the other strove to ascertain truth. The one clung to Ficino's
dream of Platonising Christianity: the other constructed for himself a
new theology, founded on the conception of God immanent in nature.
Michael Angelo expressed the aspirations of a solitary life dedicated
to the service of art, at a time when art received the suffrage and the
admiration of all Italy. Campanella gave utterance to a spirit, exiled
and isolated, misunderstood by those with whom he lived, at a moment
when philosophy was hunted down as heresy and imprisoned as treason to
the public weal.

The marks of this difference in the external and internal circumstances
of the two poets might be multiplied indefinitely. Yet they had much in
common. Both stood above their age, and in a sense aloof from it. Both
approached poetry in the spirit of thinkers bent upon extricating
themselves from the trivialities of contemporary literature. The
sonnets of both alike are contributions to philosophical poetry in an
age when the Italians had lost their ancient manliness and energy. Both
were united by the ties of study and affection to the greatest singer
of their nation, Dante, at a time when Petrarch, thrice diluted and
emasculated, was the Phoebus of academies and coteries.

This common antagonism to the degenerate genius of Italian literature
is the link which binds Michael Angelo, the veteran giant of the
Renaissance, to Campanella, the audacious Titan of the modern age.


My translation of Michael Angelo's sonnets has been made from Signor
Cesare Guasti's edition of the autograph, first given to the world in
1863.[1] This masterpiece of laborious and minute scholarship is based
upon a collation of the various manuscripts preserved in the Casa
Buonarroti at Florence with the Vatican and other Codices. It adheres
to the original orthography of Michael Angelo, and omits no fragment of
his indubitable compositions.[2] Signor Guasti prefaces the text he has
so carefully prepared, with a discourse upon the poetry of Michael
Angelo and a description of the manuscripts. To the poems themselves he
adds a prose paraphrase, and prints upon the same page with each
composition the version published by Michelangelo Buonarroti in

Before the publication of this volume, all studies of Michael Angelo's
poetry, all translations made of it, and all hypotheses deduced from
the sculptor's verse in explanation of his theory or his practice as an
artist, were based upon the edition of 1623. It will not be superfluous
to describe what that edition was, and how its text differed from that
now given to the light, in order that the relation of my own English
version to those which have preceded it may be rightly understood.[4]

Michael Angelo seems to have entertained no thought of printing his
poems in his lifetime. He distributed them freely among his friends, of
whom Sebastiano del Piombo, Luigi del Riccio, Donato Giannotti,
Vittoria Colonna, and Tommaso de' Cavalieri were in this respect the
most favoured. In course of time some of these friends, partly by the
gift of the originals, and partly by obtaining copies, formed more or
less complete collections; and it undoubtedly occurred to more than one
to publish them. Ascanio Condivi, at the close of his biography, makes
this announcement: 'I hope ere long to make public some of his sonnets
and madrigals, which I have been long collecting, both from himself and
others who possessed them, with a view to proving to the world the
force of his inventive genius and the beauty of the thoughts produced
by that divine spirit.' Condivi's promise was not fulfilled. With the
exception of two or three pieces printed by Vasari, and the extracts
quoted by Varchi in his 'Lezione,'[5] the poems of Michael Angelo
remained in manuscript for fifty-nine years after his death. The most
voluminous collection formed part of the Buonarroti archives; but a
large quantity preserved by Luigi del Riccio, and from him transferred
to Fulvio Orsini, had passed into the Vatican Library, when
Michelangelo the younger conceived the plan of publishing his
granduncle's poetry. Michelangelo obtained leave to transcribe the
Vatican MSS. with his own hand; and after taking pains to collate all
the autographs and copies in existence, he set himself to compare their
readings, and to form a final text for publication. Here, however,
began what we may call the Tragedy of his Rifacimento. The more he
studied his great ancestor's verses, the less he liked or dared to edit
them unaltered. Some of them expressed thoughts and sentiments
offensive to the Church. In some the Florentine patriot spoke over-boldly.
Others exposed their author to misconstruction on the score of
personal morality.[6] All were ungrammatical, rude in versification,
crabbed and obscure in thought - the rough-hewn blockings-out of poems
rather than finished works of art, as it appeared to the scrupulous,
decorous, elegant, and timorous Academician of a feebler age. While
pondering these difficulties, and comparing the readings of his many
manuscripts, the thought occurred to Michelangelo that, between leaving
the poems unpublished and printing them in all their rugged boldness,
lay the middle course of reducing them to smoothness of diction,
lucidity of meaning, and propriety of sentiment.[7] In other words, he
began, as Signer Guasti pithily describes his method, 'to change halves
of lines, whole verses, ideas: if he found a fragment, he completed it:
if brevity involved the thought in obscurity, he amplified: if the
obscurity seemed incurable, he amputated: for superabundant wealth of
conception he substituted vacuity; smoothed asperities; softened
salient lights.' The result was that a medley of garbled phrases,
additions, alterations, and sophistications was foisted on the world as
the veritable product of the mighty sculptor's genius. That
Michelangelo meant well to his illustrious ancestor is certain. That he
took the greatest pains in executing his ungrateful and disastrous task
is no less clear.[8] But the net result of his meddlesome benevolence
has been that now for two centuries and a half the greatest genius of
the Italian Renaissance has worn the ill-fitting disguise prepared for
him by a literary 'breeches-maker.' In fact, Michael Angelo the poet
suffered no less from his grandnephew than Michael Angelo the fresco
painter from his follower Daniele da Volterra.

Nearly all Michael Angelo's sonnets express personal feelings, and by
far the greater number of them were composed after his sixtieth year.
To whom they were addressed, we only know in a few instances. Vittoria
Colonna and Tommaso de' Cavalieri, the two most intimate friends of his
old age in Rome, received from him some of the most pathetically
beautiful of his love-poems. But to suppose that either the one or the
other was the object of more than a few well-authenticated sonnets
would be hazardous. Nothing is more clear than that Michael Angelo
worshipped Beauty in the Platonic spirit, passing beyond its personal
and specific manifestations to the universal and impersonal. This
thought is repeated over and over again in his poetry; and if we bear
in mind that he habitually regarded the loveliness of man or woman as a
sign and symbol of eternal and immutable beauty, we shall feel it of
less importance to discover who it was that prompted him to this or
that poetic utterance. That the loves of his youth were not so tranquil
as those of his old age, appears not only from the regrets expressed in
his religious verses, but also from one or two of the rare sonnets
referable to his manhood.

The love of beauty, the love of Florence, and the love of Christ, are
the three main motives of his poetry. This is not the place to discuss
at length the nature of his philosophy, his patriotism, or his
religion; to enquire how far he retained the early teaching of Ficino
and Savonarola; or to trace the influence of Dante and the Bible on his
mind. I may, however, refer my readers who are interested in these
questions, to the Discourse of Signor Guasti, the learned essay of Mr.
J.E. Taylor, and the refined study of Mr. W.H. Pater. My own views will
be found expressed in the third volume of my 'Renaissance in Italy';
and where I think it necessary, I shall take occasion to repeat them in
the notes appended to my translation.


Michael Angelo's madrigals and sonnets were eagerly sought for during
his lifetime. They formed the themes of learned academical discourses,
and won for him the poet's crown in death. Upon his tomb the Muse of
Song was carved in company with Sculpture, Architecture, and Painting.
Since the publication of the _rifacimento_ in 1623, his verses have
been used among the _testi di lingua_ by Italians, and have been
studied in the three great languages of Europe. The fate of
Campanella's philosophical poems has been very different. It was owing
to a fortunate chance that they survived their author; and until the
year 1834 they were wholly and entirely unknown in Italy. The history
of their preservation is so curious that I cannot refrain from giving
some account of it, before proceeding to sketch so much of Campanella's
life and doctrine as may be necessary for the understanding of his

The poems were composed during Campanella's imprisonment at Naples; and
from internal evidence there is good reason to suppose that the greater
part of them were written at intervals in the first fourteen years of
the twenty-five he passed in confinement.[9] In the descriptive
catalogue of his own works, the philosopher mentions seven books of
sonnets and canzoni, which he called 'Le Cantiche.'[10] Whether any of
these would have been printed but for a mere accident is doubtful. A
German gentleman, named Tobia Adami, who is supposed to have been a
Court-Counsellor at Weimar, after travelling through Greece, Syria, and
Palestine, in company with a young friend called Rodolph von Bunau,
visited Campanella in his dungeon. A close intimacy sprang up between
them, and Adami undertook to publish several works of the philosopher
in testimony of his admiration. Among these were 'Le Cantiche.'
Instead, however, of printing the poems _in extenso_, he made a
selection, choosing those apparently which took his fancy, and which,
in his opinion, threw most light on Campanella's philosophical
theories. It is clear that he neglected the author's own arrangement,
since there is no trace of the division into seven books. What
proportion the selection bore to the whole bulk of the MS. seems to me
uncertain, though the latest editor asserts that it formed only a
seventh part.[11] The manuscript itself is lost, and Adami's edition of
the specimens is all that now remains as basis for the text of
Campanella's poems.

This first edition was badly printed in Germany on very bad paper,
without the name of press or place. Besides the poems, it contained a
brief prose commentary by the editor, the value of which is still very
great, since we have the right to suppose that Adami's explanations
embodied what he had received by word of mouth from Campanella. The
little book bore this title: - 'Scelta d' alcune poesie filosofiche di
Settimontano Squilla cavate da' suo' libri detti La Cantica, con
l'esposizione, stampato nell' anno MDCXXII.' The pseudonym _Squilla_ is
a pun upon Campanella's name, since both _Campana_ and _Squilla_ mean a
bell; while _Settimontano_ contains a quaint allusion to the fact that
the philosopher's skull was remarkable for seven protuberances.[12] A
very few copies of the unpretending little volume were printed; and
none of these seem to have found their way into Italy, though it is
possible that they had a certain circulation in Germany. At any rate
there is reason to suppose that Leibnitz was not unacquainted with the
poems, while Herder, in the Renaissance of German literature, published
free translations from a few of the sonnets in his 'Adrastea.'

To this circumstance we owe the reprint of 1834, published at Lugano by
John Gaspar Orelli, the celebrated Zurich scholar. Early in his youth
Orelli was delighted with the German version made by Herder; and during
his manhood, while residing as Protestant pastor at Bergamo, he used
his utmost endeavours to procure a copy of the original. In his preface
to the reprint he tells us that these efforts were wholly unsuccessful
through a period of twenty-five years. He applied to all his literary
friends, among whom he mentions the ardent Ugo Foscolo and the learned
Mazzuchelli; but none of these could help him. He turned the pages of
Crescimbeni, Quadrio, Gamba, Corniani, Tiraboschi, weighty with
enormous erudition - and only those who make a special study of Italian
know how little has escaped their scrutiny - but found no mention of
Campanella as a poet. At last, after the lapse of a quarter of a
century, he received the long-coveted little quarto volume from
Wolfenbuttel in the north of Germany. The new edition which Orelli gave
to the press at Lugano has this title: - 'Poesie Filosofiche di Tommaso
Campanella pubblicate per la prima volta in Italia da Gio. Gaspare
Orelli, Professore all' Università di Zurigo. Lugano, 1834.' The same
text has been again reprinted at Turin, in 1854, by Alessandro
d'Ancona, together with some of Campanella's minor works and an essay
on his life and writings. This third edition professes to have improved
Orelli's punctuation and to have rectified his readings. But it still
leaves much to be desired on the score of careful editorship. Neither
Orelli nor D'Ancona has done much to clear up the difficulties of the
poems - difficulties in many cases obviously due to misprints and errors
of the first transcriber; while in one or two instances they allow
patent blunders to pass uncorrected. In the sonnet entitled 'A Dio'
(D'Ancona, vol. i. p. 102), for example, _bocca_ stands for _buca_ in a
place where sense and rhyme alike demand the restitution of the right

At no time could the book have hoped for many readers. Least of all
would it have found them among the Italians of the seventeenth and
eighteenth centuries, to whom its energetic language and unfamiliar
conceptions would have presented insuperable difficulties. Between
Dante and Alfieri no Italian poet except Michael Angelo expressed so
much deep thought and feeling in phrases so terse, and with originality
of style so daring; and even Michael Angelo is monotonous in the range
of his ideas and uniform in his diction, when compared with the
indescribable violence and vigour of Campanella. Campanella borrows
little by way of simile or illustration from the outer world, and he
never falls into the commonplaces of poetic phraseology. His poems
exhibit the exact opposite of the Petrarchistic or the Marinistic
mannerism. Each sonnet seems to have been wrenched alive and
palpitating from the poet's heart. There is no smoothness, no gradual
unfolding of a theme, no rhetorical exposition, no fanciful embroidery,
no sweetness of melodic cadence, in his masculine art of poetry.
Brusque, rough, violent in transition, leaping from the sublime to the
ridiculous - his poems owe their elevation to the intensity of their
feeling, the nobleness and condensation of their thought, the energy
and audacity of their expression, their brevity, sincerity, and weight
of sentiment. Campanella had an essentially combative intellect. He was
both a poet and a philosopher militant. He stood alone, making war upon
the authority of Aristotle in science, of Machiavelli in state-craft,
and of Petrarch in art, taking the fortresses of phrase by storm, and
subduing the hardest material of philosophy to the tyranny of his
rhymes. Plebeian saws, salient images, dry sentences of metaphysical
speculation, logical summaries, and fiery tirades are hurled together -
half crude and cindery scoriae, half molten metal and resplendent ore -
from the volcano of his passionate mind. Such being the nature of
Campanella's style, when in addition it is remembered that his text is
sometimes hopelessly corrupt and his allusions obscure, the
difficulties offered by his sonnets to the translator will be readily


At the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth
centuries, philosophy took a new point of departure among the Italians,
and all the fundamental ideas which have since formed the staple of
modern European systems were anticipated by a few obscure thinkers. It
is noticeable that the States of Naples, hitherto comparatively inert
in the intellectual development of Italy, furnished the five writers
who preceded Bacon, Leibnitz, Schelling, and Comte. Telesio of Cosenza,
Bruno of Nola, Campanella of Stilo, Vanini and Vico of Naples are the
chief among these _novi homines_ or pioneers of modern thought. The
characteristic point of this new philosophy was an unconditional return
to Nature as the source of knowledge, combined with a belief in the
intuitive forces of the human reason: so that from the first it showed
two sides or faces to the world - the one positive, scientific,
critical, and analytical; the other mystical, metaphysical, subjective.
Modern materialism and modern idealism were both contained in the
audacious guesses of Bruno and Campanella; nor had the time arrived for
clearly separating the two strains of thought, or for attempting a
systematic synthesis of knowledge under one or the other head.

The men who led this weighty intellectual movement burned with the
passionate ardour of discoverers, the fiery enthusiasm of confessors.
They stood alone, sustained but little by intercourse among themselves,
and wholly misunderstood by the people round them. Italy, sunk in
sloth, priest-ridden, tyrant-ridden, exhausted with the unparalleled
activity of the Renaissance, besotted with the vices of slavery and
slow corruption, had no ears for spirit-thrilling prophecy. The Church,
terrified by the Reformation, when she chanced to hear those strange
voices sounding through 'the blessed mutter of the mass,' burned the
prophets. The State, represented by absolute Spain, if it listened to
them at all, flung them into prison. To both Church and State there was
peril in the new philosophy; for the new philosophy was the first
birth-cry of the modern genius, with all the crudity and clearness, the
brutality and uncompromising sincerity of youth. The Church feared
Nature. The State feared the People. Nature and the People - those
watchwords of modern Science and modern Liberty - were already on the
lips of the philosophers.

It was a philosophy armed, errant, exiled; a philosophy in chains and
solitary; at war with society, authority, opinion; self-sustained by
the prescience of ultimate triumph, and invincible through the sheer
force of passionate conviction. The men of whom I speak were conscious
of Pariahdom, and eager to be martyred in the glorious cause. 'A very
Proteus is the philosopher,' says Pomponazzo: 'seeking to penetrate the
secrets of God, he is consumed with ceaseless cares; he forgets to
thirst, to hunger, to sleep, to eat; he is derided of all men; he is
held for a fool and irreligious person; he is persecuted by
inquisitors; he becomes a gazing-stock to the common folk. These are
the gains of the philosopher; these are his guerdon. Pomponazzo's words
were prophetic. Of the five philosophers whom I mentioned, Vanini was
burned as an atheist, Bruno was burned, and Campanella was imprisoned
for a quarter of a century. Both Bruno and Campanella were Dominican
friars. Bruno was persecuted by the Church, and burned for heresy.
Campanella was persecuted by both Church and State, and was imprisoned
on the double charge of sedition and heresy. _Dormitantium animarum
excubitor_ was the self-given title of Bruno. _Nunquam tacebo_ was the
favourite motto of Campanella.

Giovanni Domenico Campanella was born in the year 1568 at Stilo in
Calabria, one of the most southern townships of all Italy. In his
boyhood he showed a remarkable faculty for acquiring and retaining
knowledge, together with no small dialectical ability. His keen
interest in philosophy and his admiration for the great Dominican
doctors, Thomas Aquinas and Albertus Magnus, induced him at the age of
fifteen to enter the order of S. Dominic, exchanging his secular name
for Tommaso. But the old alliance between philosophy and orthodoxy,
drawn up by scholasticism and approved by the mediaeval Church, had
been succeeded by mutual hostility; and the youthful thinker found no
favour in the cloister of Cosenza, where he now resided. The new
philosophy taught by Telesio placed itself in direct antagonism to the
pseudo-Aristotelian tenets of the theologians, and founded its own
principles upon the Interrogation of Nature. Telesio, says Bacon, was
the prince of the _novi homines,_ or inaugurators of modern thought. It
was natural that Campanella should be drawn towards this great man. But
the superiors of his convent prevented his forming the acquaintance of
Telesio; and though the two men dwelt in the same city of Cosenza,
Campanella never knew the teacher he admired so passionately. Only when
the old man died and his body was exposed in the church before burial,
did the neophyte of his philosophy approach the bier, and pray beside
it, and place poems upon the dead.

From this time forward Campanella became an object of suspicion to his
brethren. They perceived that the fire of the new philosophy burned in
his powerful nature with incalculable and explosive force. He moved
restlessly from place to place, learning and discussing, drawing men
towards him by the magnetism of a noble personality, and preaching his
new gospel with perilous audacity. His papers were seized at Bologna;
and at Rome the Holy Inquisition condemned him to perpetual

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