Two Sonnets

by bellasemplicita


I found these when I was reading this morning and thought they were very amusing.  (For historical reference, ‘the Badalon’ is a reference to a transport ship invented by Brunelleschi; also the author of the first sonnet lectured on Dante at the university of Florence.)

Giovanni di Gherardo da Prato, called Acquettini (1367 – ca. 1444)

Sonnet written to Brunelleschi (ca. 1425)


O you deep fountain, pit of ignorance,

You miserable beast and imbecile,

Who thinks uncertain things can be made visible:

There us no substance to your alchemy.

The fickle mob, eternally deceived

In all its hope, may still believe in you,

But never will you, worthless nobody,

Make that come true which is impossible.

So if the Badalon, your water bird,

Were ever finished – which can never be –

I would no longer read on Dante at school

But finish my existence with my hand.

For surely you are mad. You hardly know

Your own profession.  Leave us, please, alone.



Filippo Brunelleschi  (1377 – 1446)

Sonnet in Response to Giovanni di Gherardo da Prato


When hope is given us by Heaven,

O you ridiculous-looking beast,

We rise above corruptible matter

And gain the strength of clearest sight.

A fool will lose what hope he has,

For all experience disappoints him.

For wise men nothing that exists

Remains unseen; they do not share

The idle dreams of would-be scholars.

Only the artist, not the fool

Discovers that which nature hides.

Therefore untangle the web of your verses,

Lest they strike sour notes in the dance

When your “impossible” comes to pass.