Baldassare Castiglione  [Sonnet on the death of Raphael]

 Translated by Peter Liebregts


Quod lacerum corpus medica sanaverit arte,      
     Hippolytum Stygiis et revocarit aquis,
Ad Stygias ipse est raptus Epidaurius undas;       
     Sic precium vitae mors fuit artifici.      
Tu quoque dum toto laniatam corpore Romam
     Componis miro, Raphael, ingenio,      
Atque urbis lacerum ferro, igni, annisque cadaver           
     Ad vitam, antiquum jam revocasque decus,  
Movisti Superum invidiam, indignataque mors est           
     Te dudum extinctis reddere posse animam,  
Et quod longa dies paulatim aboleverat, hoc te 
     Mortali spreta lege parare iterum.     
Sic, miser, heu, prima cadis intercepte juventa,
     Deberi et morti nostraque nosque mones.


Because he healed the broken body with his medical art,

And recalled Hippolytus from the waters of the Styx,

The Epidaurian himself was dragged to the Stygian waves;

Thus the price of life was death of its master.

You too, Raphael, having restored the mangled body

Of Rome with your miraculous skill,

And having recalled to life and ancient glory

The body of our city maimed by sword, fire, and years,

Have moved the Gods to jealousy, and death is indignant

That you have returned to life what had long been extinct,

And that you once again renewed, thereby disdaining  the law of death,

what a long period had slowly taken away.

Thus, alas, unfortunate one, you lie taken away in the flowering of youth,

And warn us that we owe all that we have to death.


De Morte Raphaelis Pictoris

(transcription of part of the poem)

translated by Ezra Pound, 1912


Unto our city Rome, sore wounded

by the sword and flame and flow of years,

Thou did'st bring back that rare, lost beauty

That was hers of old. Did'st scorn

The laws that bind us lesser mortals

And dared'st lead back a soul unto its earthly dwelling,

And the spirit unto our poor dead city;

Wherefore were the very high gods angry

With thee, O Raphael, and took thee from us

While thy years were yet as flowers.




‘The Epidaurian’ is Aesculapius, god of medicine, who was taken into Hades for his invention of healing. (PL)   



Castiglione, Baldassare. [Sonnet]. In Lives of the Most Eminent Painters Sculptors & Architects, by Giorgio Vasari. Trans. Gaston Du C. de Vere. 10 vols. London: Philip Lee Warner, 1912. 4: 250. Internet Archive, n.d. Web. 18 Feb 2016.

Castiglione, Baldassare. [Sonnet.] Translated by Peter Liebregts. The Cantos Project, 2016.

Castiglione, Baladassare. "De Morte Raphaelis Pictoris." Translated by Ezra Pound. Spirit of Romance. [1912]. New York: New Directions, 2005. 226.


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