By: D.H. Lawrence
March 15, 2023

A (pro- or anti-) science-, mathematics-, technology-, space-, apocalypse-, dehumanization-, disenchantment-, and/or future-oriented poem published during sf’s emergent Radium Age (c. 1900–1935). Research and selection by Joshua Glenn.

Inge Lehmann diagram of the earth’s inner and outer cores.

Below what we think we are
we are something else,
we are almost anything.

Below the grass and trees
and streets and houses and even seas
is rock; and below the rock, the rock
is we know not what,
the hot wild core of the earth, heavier than
     we can even imagine.

Pivotal core of the soul, heavier than iron
so ponderously central;
heavier and hotter than anything known;
and also alone. —
And yet
reeling with connection
spinning with the heaviness of balance
and flowing invisibly, gasping
towards the breathing stars and the central
     of all sunninesses.

The earth leans its weight on the sun, and
     the sun on the
sun of suns.
Back and forth goes the balance and the
     electric breath.

The soul of man also leans in the
     unconscious inclination we call religion
towards the sun of suns, and back and
     forth goes the breath
of incipient energetic life.

Out of the soul’s middle to the middle-most
     sun, way-off,
or in every atom.

— From the 1929 collection Pansies.

PS: Until 1936, scientists believed that the Earth’s core was one big molten sphere. The measurements of seismic waves taken by different observatories around the globe, however, just didn’t add up mathematically. Then Inge Lehmann, a seismologist and mathematician, concluded that earth must have a solid inner core surrounded by a molten outer core.


RADIUM AGE PROTO-SF POETRY: Stephen Spender’s THE PYLONS | George Sterling’s THE TESTIMONY OF THE SUNS | Archibald MacLeish’s EINSTEIN | Thomas Thornely’s THE ATOM | C.S. Lewis’s DYMER | Stephen Vincent Benét’s METROPOLITAN NIGHTMARE | Robert Frost’s FIRE AND ICE | Aldous Huxley’s FIFTH PHILOSOPHER’S SONG | Sara Teasdale’s “THERE WILL COME SOFT RAINS” | Edith Södergran’s ON FOOT I HAD TO… | Robert Graves’s WELSH INCIDENT | Nancy Cunard’s ZEPPELINS | D.H. Lawrence’s WELLSIAN FUTURES | & many more.


Poetry, Radium Age SF