When Michelangelo was in his late fifties he fell in love with a beautiful young noble in his early twenties named Tommaso de’ Cavalieri. He sent Tommaso drawings and dedicated passionate poems to him, more than three hundred sonnets and madrigals. With ups and downs their relationship lasted the rest of Michelangelo’s life; and when Michelangelo died years later, Tommaso was at his bedside.
Once, not long after they met, Tommaso wrote to Michelangelo to ask why he had not written for so long: could it be that Michelangelo had forgotten him? Michelangelo replied that he thought he had convinced Tommaso of his “boundless love”:
“……Perhaps you [said] this to try me or to rekindle a greater flame in me, if it were possible. Whichever it is, I know for sure that I’ll forget your name the day I forget the food I live on; in fact, I could sooner forget my food, which…. nourishes only the body, than your name, which nourishes body and soul, and fills both with such sweetness that I can feel no pain nor fear of death while my mind remembers it. Imagine how happy I would be if my eye also had its share.” [unsigned]
Florence, 28 July, 1533