Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Michael Angelo: A Fragment


  • Michel piu che mortal, Angel divino.
  • Similamente operando all’ artista
  • Ch’ a l’ abito dell’ arte e man che trema.
  • DANTE, Par. xiii. st. 77.

  • The relation of Michael Angelo to Mr. Longfellow’s life and work is dwelt on in the biographical sketch prefixed to this edition.
  • The notes at the end of this volume point out some of the more interesting indications of the manner in which the authorities used were made to contribute to the realism of the poem. It was the poet’s intention at one time to insert in the poem translations of some of the sonnets and other verses of Michael Angelo, and to this he refers in his Dedication when he says—
  • Flowers of song have thrust
  • Their roots among the loose disjointed stones.
  • These translations with one exception he withdrew and published instead in the volume entitled Kéramos and other Poems; they may be found in their place among the Translations in this edition. Another intimation of the connection of his poetry with this study appears in the poem Vittoria Colonna, written in 1877, and published in Flight the Fifth of Birds of Passage.
  • Michael Angelo was found in the poet’s desk after his death, and while in one or two instances some doubt arose as to Mr. Longfellow’s final choice of alternative scenes, it was reasonably clear what his latest decision was as to the sequence and form of the poem.
  • The reader who is interested in the poet’s development of the theme and in his several experiments will find the material at his hand in the poem as printed and annotated in vol. vi. of the Riverside edition.

  • NOTHING that is shall perish utterly,

    But perish only to revive again

    In other forms, as clouds restore in rain

    The exhalations of the land and sea.

    Men build their houses from the masonry

    Of ruined tombs; the passion and the pain

    Of hearts, that long have ceased to beat, remain

    To throb in hearts that are, or are to be.

    So from old chronicles, where sleep in dust

    Names that once filled the world with trumpet tones,

    I build this verse; and flowers of song have thrust

    Their roots among the loose disjointed stones,

    Which to this end I fashion as I must.

    Quickened are they that touch the Prophet’s bones.