Michelangelo studied and wrote poetry throughout his life, frequently turning to it in times of emotional crisis or stress. His finest literary efforts are often allied with the masterworks of his visual art. As he labored in the Sistine Chapel with visions of the Last Judgment, he composed a series of passionate love sonnets. And while struggling, near the end of his life, to complete his final Pieta, he worked at religious poems anguished in their fervor. Indeed, the power of his verse seemed to grow with age, as if compensating for his diminishing physical strength. Nims, an eminent poet in his own right, has translated the entire body of Michelangelo's poetry, from the artist's ardent twenties to his anguished and turbulent eighties.
John Frederick Nims (1913-1999) was the author of eight books of poetry, including Knowledge of the Evening, which was nominated for a National Book Award. Among his many translations is The Poems of Saint John of the Cross, also published by the University of Chicago Press.