GREY MATTER

By: Ford Madox Ford
June 22, 2022

A Radium Age sf poem.

F.J. Gall, The brain seen from the underside, sectioned horizontally; with attention to the part associated by Hollander’s system of phrenology with memory for numbers. Process print, 1901, after etching, 1809.

  She. They leave us nothing.
  He.  Still, a little’s left.
  She. A crabbed, ancient, dried biologist,
Somewhere very far from the sea, closed
     up from the sky,
Shut in from the leaves, destroys our hopes
     and us.
  He. Why, no, our hopes and…
  She.    In his “Erster Heft,”
Page something, I forget the line, he says
That, hidden as deep in the brain as he
      himself from hope,
There’s this grey matter.
  He.    Why, ’tis there, dear heart.
  She. That, if that hidden matter cools,
      decays,
Dies — what you will — our souls die out as
      well;
Since, hidden in the millionth of a cell,
Is all we have to give us consciousness.
  He. Suppose it true.
  She.    Ah, never; better die,
Better have never lived than face this mist,
Better have never toiled to such distress.

— an excerpt from “Grey Matter,” in Face of the Night: A Second Series of Poem for Pictures (1904, as by Ford M. Hueffer)

***

RADIUM AGE PROTO-SF POETRY: H.D.’s STARS WHEEL IN PURPLE | Clark Ashton Smith’s FROM PLANET UNTO PLANET WHIRLED | Anonymous’s ASTRONOMIC JOSH | Rudyard Kipling’s THE SECRET OF THE MACHINES | Randolph Bourne’s SABOTAGE | Stephen Spender’s THE PYLONS | Ford Madox Ford’s GREY MATTER | W.E. Henley’s A SONG OF SPEED | H.L. Mencken’s A BALLAD OF LOOKING | George Sterling’s THE TESTIMONY OF THE SUNS | Vachel Lindsay’s THE SCIENTIFIC ASPIRATION | Thomas Hardy’s EPITAPH FOR G.K. CHESTERTON | Archibald MacLeish’s EINSTEIN | Thomas Thornely’s THE ATOM | Charles M. Doughty’s THE CLIFFS | William Butler Yeats’s THE SECOND COMING | Guillaume Apollinaire’s THE LITTLE CAR | Archibald MacLeish’s MAN! | more TBD.

Categories

Poetry, Radium Age SF

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