Poem of the Week: Sonnet—To Science

My brother recently passed along to me a wonderful collection of poems from Edgar Allen Poe’s pen. The book itself, beyond even the ink on its pages, looks and feels like a book of poetry should. I have only begun to dig in, but foresee many moments spent within its pages in my near future.

While perusing it, this one in particular caught my eye. Here Poe addresses Science, and his tone is anything but congenial. In fact, he accosts Science as a “Vulture, whose wings are dull realities.” The poem laments the disenchantment of the world that Science has wrought, leaving those who search for poetry in all things to watch the world ever drained of its magic and mystery. He employs harsh imagery in speaking of the work of Science to drive this point home: “alterest all things with thy peering eyes,” “dragged Diana from her car,” “driven the Hamadryad from the wood,” and “torn the Naiad from her flood.”

While his case is stated in the extreme for poetic purposes, we, who are much farther along the path he decried, would do well to heed his cautionary lament.

Sonnet—To Science

Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or deem thee wise,
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?

Edgar Allen Poe

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