By: Amy Lowell
May 16, 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.

Jean Metzinger’s “Au Vélodrome” (also known as At the Cycle-Race Track, 1911–1912)

This man is like a mechanical toy
Which runs, and streaks, and veers over
     the carpet,
With a noise of thin edges of tin
Whirring upon one another
In spirals of shrillness.
Even when you pick it up,
The wheels of the toy continue to whirl,
Grating incessantly.
They beat, and wobble, and whiz,
Inconceivably rapid rings of blurred spokes,
And the shrill scraping pierces one’s
Like an auger.

— An uncollected poem of Lowell’s added to the volume The Complete Poetical Works of Amy Lowell, published in 1955 with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer. I’m uncertain when it was written, though certainly between 1902 (when she began writing poems) and her death in 1925.


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