Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, GALILEO BEFORE THE INQUISITION, by MARGARET JUNKIN

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First Line: Why wrapped he not a martyr's robe
Last Line: Of truth's diviner star!
Subject(s): Galileo (1564-1642); Inquisition; Galileo Galilei

WHY wrapped he not a martyr's robe
Around his lofty form?
Why bore he not with dauntless brow
The bursting of the storm?
Why cringed the mind that proudly soared
Where others gazed dismayed,
With servile will before the power
Whose grasp was on him laid?

They tell us it was fear that bowed
His mighty spirit, when
He stooped beneath the rusty links
Of superstition's chain:
-- The dungeon cell was dark, -- and light
Was pleasant to his eye,
And, holy tho' the truth, for it
He did not dare to die.

Fear! -- what had he to do with fear,
Who ventured out abroad,
Unpiloted, thro' pathless space,
By angels only trod: --
Who wandered with unfailing flight,
Creation's vastness o'er,
And brought to light an infinite,
So unconceived before.

When gazing on those worlds which first
He was allowed to scan,
How puny would appear the aims
And littleness of man!
And proud his inward consciousness,
That he had dared to be
A sharer in the mysteries
Of God's immensity.

When back to earth he turned again, --
Such brilliant visions past,
How most contemptible would seem
The trammels round him cast!
And yet his lofty character
Submitted to the stain;
And lulling Ignorance entwined
Her weak, Delilah chain.

Strange that the ray which beamed for him
With such intense delight,
Should for a single moment lose
Its glory in his sight: --
Strange that the eye whose strength could pierce
From world to world afar,
Should suffer fear to cloud the blaze
Of Truth's diviner star!

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