It is often said that great art is created during troubled times, so it should come as no surprise that Barnard — well-known for its alumnae writers — has seen this trend continue as the “twin pandemics” of COVID-19 and a renewed focus on racial injustice and violence sweep the world. In this limited series, Barnard community members share poems and songs that speak to this unique moment in time.

Today, for the second-to-last installment of the Pandemic Poets Society, Hannah Corrie ’17 reads her poem “Galileo Went Blind.”

Galileo Went Blind 

Not from looking at the sun, which is what people say,
but from some bacteria that inhabited his eyeball like it was 

a good planet. There’s no poetic justice here, 
just so many small things clamoring to survive. 

When I turn on the news now, it’s all the same.
Over and over they say, we’re killing ourselves 

with our living. Over and over I tell myself 
there is no meaning in irony. Outside, starlings 

are singing. Upstairs, my sister is screaming. 
Before, I was crying, but now I’m watching 

as cumulus clouds gather like a cataract 
over the luminous sky— I know 

I should condemn the coming storm, its turbulent
brewing and unflinching center, say 

it is wrong to make people suffer 
and feel small, but 

everything glows 
in the low light. 

I heard, after he lost his sight, Galileo stayed inside
and studied gravity. He spent his days rolling balls 

down ramps, and, I suppose, learned to love the song
of the soft plummet, which means 

something tethers us to this Earth 
after all.


*Originally published in Posit, Issue 26.