Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe: Jan. 19, 1809--Oct. 7, 1849

To be honest, I prefer Edgar Allan Poe's short stories to most of his poetry. However, there are some exceptions, and one of them is the following:

Sonnet--To Science

Science! true daughter of old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jeweled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
And driven the hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Has thou not torn the naiad from her flood,
The elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

Poe's complaint here is a common one made by many writers and poets: science is taking the romance out of reality. The Vulture science leaves us with only dull realities. It is too bad that Poe isn't alive today to see what's happened to that dull Vulture science, especially when one considers some of the theories of the cosmologists today: black holes, the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe, and multiple dimensions, are just some examples. Science may have taken the older fantasy and romance out of reality, but many science fiction writers are putting it back into science.


  1. I don't think science leaves us with dull realities. I think it shows us alot of amazing things about ourselves, our planet, and our universe. That these things are verifiably true makes it more fantastic than any "romance" one can dream up. Maybe Poe thought science was making his job, as a writer, harder?

  2. Cheryl,

    Perhaps science does make the fantasists' job harder. Poe's references are all about classical mythology--Greek and Roman. The lights in the skies are just suns like ours, only further away, etc. And SF gets the same treatment from science. All those stories about Venus as a tropical planet are now outdated. The moon and the planets are no longer the dwelling places of the gods.

    How much of what science has discovered that we now consider fantastic will seem that way in a few years?