By: D.H. Lawrence
June 15, 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 Grosz’s Republican Automatons (1920)

Now again and now forever breaks the
     great illusion
of human oneness.

Sons of earth, sons of fire, sons of air and
sons of the living elements, sons of the
     unthinking gods,
women, women the same.

And then the hordes of the spawn of the
the hordes of the ego-centric, the robots.

For listen! the ego-centric self is the same
     as the machine
The ego running in its own complex and
     disconnected motion
using all life only as power, as an engine
     uses steam or gas
power to repeat its own egocentric motions

this is the machine incarnate:
and the robot is the machine incarnate
and the slave is the machine incarnate
and the hopeless inferior, he is the
     machine incarnate
an engine of flesh, useless unless he is a
of other men.

The great industrialists know it.
Mr Ford knows it.
The brain of the machine knows the limbs
     and trunk of the machine.

But oh, men, men still unmechanised,
sons of the elements and the unspeaking
sons of the wind and rain, sons of the fire
     and rock
what are you going to do, entangled among
     all the engines?

Behold the gulf, impassable
between machine-spawn, myriads
mechanical and intellectual,
and the sons of men, with the wind and the
     fire of life
in their faces, and motion never
     mechanical in their limbs.

— From More Pansies (1932), published posthumously.


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