A long time ago – in another lifetime, it sometimes seems – I wrote a poem about Michael Scott the Magician. This might be it. Or, it might be part of it. The whole poem, as I recapture it now, appears to be in six parts (over-eloquent, no doubt) as well as an extensive epigram. Here is the epigram:

Michael Scott, the Magician, practised divination at the court of Frederick II, and dedicated to him a book on natural history, which I have seen, and in which among other things he treats of Astrology, then deemed infallible … It is said, moreover, that he foresaw his own death, but could not escape it. He had prognosticated that he should be killed by the falling of a small stone upon his head, and always wore an iron skull-cap under his hood, to prevent this disaster. But entering a church on the festival of Corpus Domini, he lowered his hood in sign of veneration, not of Christ, in whom he did not believe, but to deceive the common people, and a small stone fell from aloft on his bare head.

It’s interesting, isn’t it, to be able to talk within a poem, to share speculation on, for example, the exact (but no doubt double) meaning of the word ‘veneration’, or the precise size and indeed shape of this ‘small stone’, and whether it was meant directly for MS himself (now known to us only in the form of ms, manuscript, texts reciting his life and times …)

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