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Giordano Bruno’s Journey To London

by Armando Halpern

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) was a Renaissance philosopher who spent most of his life in motion, mostly to escape prosecution from the Inquisition, but also to seek out rare books and knowledge. He lived in Venice, Geneva, Toulouse, London, Oxford, Wittenberg, Prague and Frankfurt. His fiery spirit, together with his controversial teachings, which covered topics such as the multiplicity of the worlds, the defence of heliocentrism, and pantheism, won him plenty of enemies. After his return to Venice he was seized by the Inquisition. Although he recanted, he was sent to Rome where, after nearly eight years of interrogation, he refused to recant a second time. He was burnt at the stake at Campo dei Fiori on 17th February 1600.

And so you went while feeding your inner hunger,
when a sea was a sea and a mile still a mile,
when knowing was so demanding and so valuable
that you would thoughtfully burn again your own life
in the uncompromised pyre of eternity.

Effort was then the measure of every step
of that restlessness never easy, never simple,
in journeys to hunt the hidden sparkle for your heart,
the one that holds and feeds new prodigious senses
to your ready-lived sense of awe and wonder.

You spat with anger at the crucible of power,
sign only of a fiction chained to convention,
but your heroic frenzies still brewed, untouched and free,
following that other fire that burns like hunger,
binding a life in transit to sense and purpose.

I think of you as I sit between these airports,
as my ears crackle, as I fight boredom and sleep,
over this blurred world shrunk above any measure.
We have now packaged truths whispering to our eyes
whenever we look again to the other side.

I see you roasting from my effortless home plane,
I carry you through blank corridors and customs
with the studied ease of an experienced old smuggler,
and feel sometimes your echo through my veins.
The death that killed you, was it truth or pride?

© Armando Halpern 2012

Armando Halpern has a degree in Philosophy and has published a novel and a collection of short stories in Portuguese as well as poetry in English in several magazines. He is the editor of Ariadne’s Thread, a literary magazine (www.ariadnethread.net).

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