Three Poems by David Weinstock
Tycho's Nose

Manderup Parsbjerg, over a point
Of mathematical honor, sliced off
(Cleanly) the nose of Tycho Brahe.
The King's astronomer retreated
To his island; in public he wore
A handsome coin-silver prosthesis.
Privately he felt no need for a nose.
Who does? We know we are animals;
When we forget, the nose reminds us.
It bisects the clearest vision; it drips.
I envy Tycho, breathing so freely
The measured empty space between the stars.

Tycho's Eye

All eyes were naked then.
No lens or telescope covered
The private rounded parts of sight.
Still Tycho saw something awful:
Heaven itself no better than earth,
Mutable as gossip, ordinary
As weather, fragile, a mortal place
Where new buds bloom, dry, die.
Damn him then; may he drink himself
To death, be buried and exhumed,
His skull to be photographed,
His eyes still nothing but space.

Tycho's Eye II

For me, half-blind, the stars are dark.
Except for a few dozen dozen
Of magnitude second and first.
On the coldest clear winter night,
Seen sidelong (yet disappearing
Dodgily if I look spot on)
But Tycho knew them all so well
That when by Casseiopia's ear,
Where nothing had moved or blinked
For a thousand years, a nova flared,
Tycho knew at once, and drank.
He drank and drank 'til heaven spun.

- David Weinstock
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