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Featured Poem: Sonnet–To Science, by Edgar Allan Poe

Written by Chris Routledge, 14th July 2008

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the strangest and most compelling writers of the Romantic period in the United States. He is well known for his tales, which include landmark detective stories as well as the Gothic suspense and horror tales for which he is most famous. In this poem from 1829 the speaker, clearly caught up in personal passions, accuses science of removing wonder from life. But there is also a sense of awe in the face of the power of science and perhaps a realisation that its truths are themselves a source of wonder. In later work Poe placed science and poetry in balance, the one seeking beauty and the other truth.


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 how 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?

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