James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

October 27

On a Portrait of Servetus

By Richard Watson Gilder (1844–1909)

  • Michael Servetus was a Spanish physician and controversialist who was burned for heresy on Oct. 27, 1553.

  • THOU grim and haggard wanderer, who dost look

    With haunting eyes forth from the narrow page,

    I know what fires consumed with inward rage

    Thy broken frame, what tempests chilled and shook!

    Ah, could not thy remorseless foeman brook

    Time’s sure devourment, but must needs assuage

    His anger in thy blood, and blot the age

    With that dark crime which virtue’s semblance took!

    Servetus! that which slew thee lives today,

    Though in new forms it taints our modern air;

    Still in heaven’s name the deeds of hell are done;

    Still on the high-road, ’neath the noon-day sun,

    The fires of hate are lit for them who dare

    Follow their Lord along the untrodden way.