By: Aleksei Kruchenykh
May 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.

A Victim of Society by George Grosz (1919)


I cooked my brain on an iron rod
Adding pepper for seasoning and vinegars
So that it please you my dear muse
More than Igor Severyanin’s smeared cake
So that you nibble tickling with your nail
The teat smelling of turpentine
My heart will be a somersault
Like nervous Kubelik’s

— 1919.

PS: Jan Kubelík (1880–1940) was a Czech violinist and composer. A 1912 Cubist painting by Braque incorporates a handbill featuring the words “Mozart Kubelick” (sic). Igor Severyanin (1887 – 1941) was a Russian poet who presided over the circle of the so-called Ego-Futurists. In his verse, Severyanin admired dirigibles and automobiles, everything that could convey to his followers the notion of modernity. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, Severyanin was one of the first poets to leave Russia.


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