A History of Technology: Glass

Antonio Barovier,

He whose Cristallo,

The clearest glass

The world had ever known,

Would make Venice

Rich as all get out–

Its Doges and their faves anyway.

It’s see-through supremacy

The fount of frenzied fads

For the good things in life.

Marketing, an ancient profession.


Paolo of Pergola

Antonio’s alchemist confidant

A most perilous liaison

In Inquisition times

Delivered the secret

An obsession with purity.

The cleanest river stones

Ground to crystalline flour

Barovier knew that much

But not the sea grass ash


Once swaying on the Levant coast

Calcined, dissolved, filtered

Again, again, again and again

Again, again, again and again.

That, Paolo knew,

Was where transparency

Would come from.


It was an age of craft

Passed from master to apprentice

Of trial and error

Of discovery and invention

Found and lost

Of trade secrets

Written in cyphers

Hidden in walls

Lest word get out.


Craft plus alchemy

A mystical transformation

Of powders and fire

Fueled with high-octane obsession

Whipped hotter with wealth lust

Money out the Venetian wazoo


But the most valuable payoff of all

From this world-champion transparency

Dearest friend of optical curiosity

Leeuwenhoek and Swammerdam

Tycho, Hooke, and Galileo

Their wide-as-saucer-eyes

On Cristallo lenses

Portalling them to once unseen worlds

Minute and cosmic

Their own world, ours too

Now among a nesting of worlds.

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