Friday, March 4, 2011

Foodstuff Friday: Kidneys & Michelangelo

from The Chiropractic Journal

Kidneys? Not fried, roasted, braised. beaded. Not with parsley, tomatoes, potatoes, rick-rack. Not even chocolate sauce can (IN THIS BLOGGER'S OPINION) make a kidney edible so why even mention the organ with a twin?

Apologies for cultural insensitivity to Britain & co.
Because work (work work) today is about hemodialysis (or editing a paper thereon), and so I googled poems about kidneys and voila who should appear but Michelangelo who should have sued the Vatican for workplace injury.

And demanded an ergonomically satisfying scaffold. If I may on-the-spot edit this posting, it's too cute up to this point.  And now, Michelangelo, c. 1509.

Poem 5

A goiter it seems I got from this backward craning
like the cats get there in Lombardy, or wherever
—bad water, they say, from lapping their fetid river.
My belly, tugged under my chin, 's all out of whack.
Beard points like a finger at heaven. Near the back
of my neck, skull scrapes where a hunchback's lump would be.
I'm pigeon-breasted, a harpy! Face dribbled—see?—
like a Byzantine floor, mosaic. From all this straining
my guts and my hambones tangle, pretty near.
Thank God I can swivel my butt about for ballast.
Feet are out of sight; they just scuffle around, erratic.
Up front my hide's tight elastic; in the rear
it's slack and droopy, except where crimps have callused.
I'm bent like a bow, half-round, type Asiatic.
Not odd that what's on my mind,
when expressed, comes out weird, jumbled. Don't berate;
no gun with its barrel screwy can shoot straight.
Giovanni, come agitate
for my pride, my poor dead art! I don't belong!
Who's a painter? Me? No way! They've got me wrong.

from The Complete Poems of Michelangelo, tr. by John Frederick Nims.

Nims on poem # 5. 1509-10. Sonetto caudato [sonnet with tail], the tail consisting of six additional lines at the end of the sonnet, as in 25. It was written while Michelangelo was painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel (1508-12). In the margin of the manuscript the artist has drawn an image of a strained figure with a bent back painting a ghostly shape on the ceiling. The "Giovanni" of line 18 refers to Giovanni da Pistoia, a member of the Florentine Academy who sent several sonnets to Michelangelo, whose own letters confirm his extreme discomfort at the time.

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