Michelangelo Buonarroti, on Painting the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
To Giovanni da Pistoia, July 1510
I've grown a goiter by dwelling in this den -
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they hap to be -
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin;
My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro;
In front my skin grows loose and long; behind,
By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;
For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
Come then, Giovanni, try
To succor my dead pictures and my fame,
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.