By: Arthur Stanley Eddington
January 20, 2024

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.

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. “Baboon.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

There once was a breathy baboon
Who always breathed down a bassoon,
  For he said, “It appears
  That in billions of years
I shall certainly hit on a tune.”

— This 1939 limerick by the astronomer, mathematician and philosopher Sir Arthur Eddington helps us to understand probability. Eddington made major contributions to astrophysics and to general relativity.

Not technically a Radium Age poem… but Eddington was such an important figure during the Radium Age….

I’ve also seen the baboon’s adjective as “brainy.”


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