By: Valery Bryusov
October 10, 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.


Electrical moons are twinkling
On curving and delicate bands;
The telegraph wires are tinkling
In tender, invisible hands.

The clocks with their amber faces
By magic are lit o’er the crowd;
Of stillness the cooling traces
The thirst-ridden pavement enshroud.

‘Neath a net that quivers enchanted,
The square lies hushed in the haze;
The evening has smilingly planted
A kiss on the harlots’ gaze.

As music that soothingly quavers
Is daytime’s far-away roar.
O dusk ! In your lulling favours
You steep my spirit once more.

— found in Modern Russian Poetry: Texts and Translations (1917) by P. Selver. The translation, at any rate, is from 1917. Note sure about the poem’s first appearance.


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