After he took his priestly vow, my uncle
proposed, they say, to the rector’s daughter.
She bore his son, in any case, and married
another man. Later my uncle had me take my vow.
Men of the cloth elected him Prince-Bishop.
His son was mayor. I was a canon for life
and his physician. In my study at the episcopal
palace I translated from Greek a book of poems
in praise of moral truth, and of the prostitutes
and beauties of Byzantium. I dedicated these
to him. At forty I moved from the palace
into the tower of a cathedral in a fishing village.
There, observing the heavens when I could,
I managed coin and property for the state.
My housekeeper when I was old was banished
by my friend, the new Prince-Bishop,
who alleged that she was more to me than I
would say. Devotion, meanwhile, to the loving
mind of God made unacceptable the nest
of calibrated rings with Earth at the center
and a tiny sun in orbit. This, the science
of a thousand years, I took in hand
to measure by its rule my thought: to set
aside the old, ungainly universe, and leave
God’s body true to its own motion naked.
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