Brooks Haxton

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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