HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

June 4, 2007
A Panegyric for Giordano Bruno

John R. Guthrie

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“Nature and God are one…The worlds in
the cosmos are infinite in number…”
Giordano Bruno, Philosopher & Poet: 1458-1600


“Insolent Atheist! Infidel!
Burn him!” So ruled
the priestly court.

Stripped bare and
gagged to mute
his heresies
he was led forth 
(how cool the cobbles
to his unshod feet). 

Chains clinked
as he was fastened
to the fresh cut oak
while curious pigeons
stopped their foraging to stare.

A burning brand
thrust forth to light the pyre.
A devils’ dance
of pious flame
sap crackling
as it steamed and popped.

Smoke like votive  prayer
climbed toward
a sky so blue that it
could break your heart 
until at last
his flame-blacked frame collapsed:
     
But they burned him all too late!
Already Europe was awakening
from its long unheeding sleep.