In And Yet it Moves, the poet is an archeologist of mourning rediscovering that assaults on science and reason are not new phenomenon. Gallagher follows Petrarch, who spawns a new lyric in part inspired by lost texts, and who motivates ‘book hunters’ of the Renaissance to search for the buried as well. The world changed when Poggio Bracciolini discovered Lucretius’s On the Nature of Things in a Benedictine library. Lucretius’s poem is a meditation of the universe as infinite numbers of atoms wandering randomly through space with no master plan whatsoever. The book birthed humanist philosophy, masterworks such as the Birth of Venus, and inspirations for Galileo Galilei. When Galileo’s patrons the powerful Medici rose to the Papacy, they chose their power over science and reason—sentencing and silencing Galileo for life for proving that the earth revolved around the sun. Digging with his pen, Gallagher brings these stories back in ‘talking sonnets,’ as if ditching the Latin for the more colloquial Italian of the people that came into form during the era. Upon his sentencing, Galileo’s is said to have uttered ‘Eppur si muove,' knowing that the truth would eventually prevail.
Whereas in Kevin Gallagher’s previous book of poems, LOOM, he dealt with the relationship of Northern industrialists and Southern plantation owners in a struggle toward the Emancipation, this book ‘And Yet it Moves’ is a ‘translation’ of Galileo’s whispered teaching, Eppur si muove, after threats of torture and death by the Inquisition. Gallagher’s subject is a fitful combat of intellectual and cultural emancipation from the tyranny of the Church during the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance. In an artful euphonic voice he recreates the struggle, striking just tones of irony and indignation, making a laudable series of poems of historic imagination.
—Gerrit Lansing, author of Heavenly Tree, Northern Earth
Those who are distraught by the assault on science and reason that has infected today’s body politic might take some solace in knowing that it is not entirely without precedent. We have much to learn from the 17th-century assault on Galileo by the Roman Catholic Church. Kevin Gallagher’s new volume And Yet it Moves combines an array of witty poems and striking visuals to take us on that journey in the hope that we might still learn the lessons of history in time to avoid repeating past mistakes.
—Michael Mann, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science, Penn State University and co-author of The Madhouse Effect
That the Italian Renaissance held great fascination for Jacob Burckhardt, Walter Pater, and Ezra Pound is less surprising than the fact that it could become the substance of a modern sonnet sequence as it has in Kevin Gallagher’s And Yet It Moves. Ranging among the lives and work of figures as diverse as Petrarch, Cosimo de’ Medici, Savonarola and Vittoria Colonna, these sonnets establish connections between history and artistic production, touching on phenomena as disparate as the theology of the Annunciation and the mining of alum. By concluding with Galileo’s discoveries, Gallagher suggests that cosmology enjoyed a new birth too, whereby we understood that the Earth itself is moving—an adjective that we like to apply to poetry as well.
—Alfred Corn, author of Unions
And Yet It Moves
by Kevin Gallagher
$21.95, paperback, 125 pp