WATCHERS OF THE MOON:
Poetry and Mathematical Physics in the Long Nineteenth Century
Author Index: H
TECHNICAL NOTE: The great majority of the links below are to
scanned antique books at the Internet Archive, most of them
anthologies. Poems frequently run for several pages; when coming
to the apparent end of a poem, turn the page to make sure!
While this self-published American work from 1904 is not exactly great
literature and shows limited knowledge of
science, it contains (p. 33) an early example of the
"spaceship Earth" metaphor so popular in the later Twentieth Century.
Hadcock, John W.:
Hamilton, William Rowan: We have
created an online collected poems
of Hamilton elsewhere at Net Advance Retro.
Panspermia. (Published 1927; under copyright in some countries.)
The Comet at Yalbury or Yell'ham
When it comes back, you'll be dead.
Earth? Oh, maybe I did create that planet. But its inhabitants haven't stayed in
touch like everybody else, have they?
At a Lunar Eclipse
So that shadow is the Earth's?!
"No answerer I."
If only science would discover life after death! But it won't.
Havergal, Frances Ridley:
Enigma No. 16
The gaseous state of matter.
Faith and Reason
"Faith leads the way, and Reason learns // To follow in her train."
Extended geological metaphor.
The Star Shower
of November 14, 1866.
Hawker, Robert Stephen: Vicar of Morwenstow.
The Comet of 1861
with a decidedly odd theological-astronomical note about the
significance of the conic sections, and a reference in the poem itself to
the panspermia hypothesis.
Hayne, Paul Hamilton:
Heitland, William Emerton:
Science, Illustrated and Applied
The cantos of this book-length poem have such titles
as "The gratification of scientific research" and
"Science as tending to the promulgation and adoption
of Moral Principle". The verse form is bizarre for 1851:
essentially this is prose chopped up into very short lines,
sometimes ending in "the" or "and". Curiously, Hadcock's
short poems on other subjects are written in conventional
meters and rhymed.
Henley, W. E.:
"Out of the night that covers me ..."
Maybe, but I'd rather believe they are hiding out somewhere
far from the boring world of scientific prose.
In Hospital, 1872-1875
A truly remarkable patient's-eye view of Nineteenth
Century medicine; should be much better known than it is.
A Song of Speed Driving fast in a Mercedes as
Herman, Jay H.: a poet of the open range, etc.
About the Arizona Meteor Crater.
Night on the Desert
Sapiens Quid Femina Possit:
Responding to the news that Philippa Fawcett had scored
"above the Senior Wrangler" on the Mathematical Tripos.
Herschel, Sir John:
Hill, Frank Ernest:
Hilliard, John Northern: famous mostly as a stage magician.
Parody of Christopher Marlowe's Passionate
Hillyer, William Hurd:
Aviators are god-like fellows who will liberate mankind from
the tedious constraints of Nineteenth Century life.
Verses to the Comet of 1811
Thought by Hogg to be the same as the Star of Bethlehem.
Holmes, Oliver Wendell:
Physician, poet, and essayist who enjoyed immense
popularity in his lifetime but is now rather out of fashion.
Reflects on the amazing rate of scientific progress since 1780, and wonders
what is to come.
Benjamin Peirce: Astronomer, Mathematician
A dominant figure in American science for much of the 1800s,
Peirce is better known today as the father of the logician Charles Peirce.
The Chambered Nautilus For many years, this was among the most
famous natural-history (and natural-theology) poems in the English language.
To Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg
Diatom expert and pioneer of invertebrate palæontology.
The Comet After a heavy meal, the poet has a comic/apocalyptic dream
about a comet frying the Earth.
The Coming Era Holmes bets that poetry will survive in the age of Science.
A Farewell to Agassiz
A comic blessing as the Harvard celebrity-scientist embarks for Brazil:
may Heaven keep him safe "from every beast and vermin // that to think of
sets us squirmin'" so that he may return with "a million novel data //
about the articulata."
Humboldt's Birthday A centennial tribute to Humboldt, comparing
him favourably to his almost exact contemporary, Napoleon.
In the Twilight The aging poet wonders what technological and
religious developments will transform the world in the centuries after his
Includes a comic refutation of Ecclesiastes' "nothing new under the sun":
Were nations coupled with a wire? // Did Tarshish telegraph to
The Morning Visit About a physician's correct bedside manner.
The Philosopher to his Love An adolescent love poem using
Poem at the Centennial Anniversary Dinner of the Massachusetts
Medical Society, June 8, 1881
Five pages arguing that going into medicine is a higher calling
than going into law or the Church.
Rip Van Winkle, M.D. Medical "progress" is cyclical.
The Secret of the Stars
A prayer that God reveal whether or not there is life on other
planets segues into an affirmation of American exceptionalism.
A Sentiment A toast to Friendship, Science, and (medical) Art.
The Stability of Science Against the attacks of fools? The meaning of
this poem is not quite clear.
"See how yon flaming herald treads // The ridged and
rolling waves ..."
The Stethoscope Song
Every scientist, regardless of discipline, should know this
A Welcome to Dr Benjamin Apthorp Gould ... "... On His Return from South
America after Fifteen Years Devoted to Cataloguing the Stars of the Southern Hemisphere,
Read at the Dinner Given at the Hotel Vendome, May 6, 1885." Holmes specialised
in this sort of poem, which is part of the reason he isn't much read these days. For an interesting account of the dinner in question, see
Nature 33, 9 (1885).
Wind-Clouds and Star-Drifts A very long poem embedded in Holmes's
novel The Poet at the Breakfast-Table; the speaker
is a character called only "the Young Astronomer". Like Tennyson's In
Memoriam and several other classic Victorian poems, Wind-Clouds
and Star-Drifts explores the apparently widening gap between Science and
Faith, and the problem of how to lead a meaningful life in a world where God's
existence is more of a fervent hope than a self-evident fact.
Songs of the Steel Age Many are on technological themes;
some have a somber "post-apocalyptic" feel.
Of particular interest:
Lord Houghton (Robert Monckton Milnes):
Housman, A. E.:
Howells, William Dean:
The concluding stanza (turn the page!) includes the "gyre" theory of
progress best known from Yeats. Illustrations by Howard Pyle.
Everything, including lovers' tears etc., is made of the same elements.
The Trumpets of Doolkarnein
One of Western literature's few attempts to tackle the famous
Near Eastern legend of the lost advanced technology of Alexander.
In defence of the Cambridge Drama Club: "Hamlet our Senior
Wrangler, Cato Wooden Spoon."
THE NET ADVANCE OF PHYSICS
Nineteenth Century Poetry