Poems of the Week

Out of the Woods

by Julia Griffin

“Dante’s descendant to take part in ‘retrial’ of poet’s 1302 corruption case
Seven centuries after guilty verdict in Florence,
Sperello di Serego Alighieri [noted astrophysicist]
to help test whether poet’s conviction would stand today
The Guardian

At slightly more than midway through man’s life
(I’m sixty-nine), I feel it time to clear
My forebear’s honor, smeared through Guelphic strife.

Ah, probably the journalists will sneer,
But Alighieris don’t forget a wrong.
This now has passed its seven hundredth year:

The Empire’s gone (alas, the Pope’s still strong),
And still that vile conviction shames and brands—
And Florence the Ungrateful goes along.

Well, his descendant, as of now, demands
That right be done. It isn’t hard to parse:
Judges, great Dante’s name is in your hands!

Fighters, he wrote, find Paradise on Mars:
At least a heaven-gazer understands
That cosmic stubbornness that moves the stars.