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Some special mention must be made of major authors who are far better known for their prose or their mainstream poetry, but who have produced science fiction and fantasy poetry of great merit. These include the following 97 authors:
  1. Joseph Addison (1672-1719), "An Ode" [the Spacious Firmament on High];
  2. Anonymous, Marmaduke Multiply's Merry Method of making Minor Mathematicians, Boston: Munroe and Francis, 1841; reprinted in New York: Dover, 1971, childrens' classic with rhymed verses presenting multiplication table;
  3. A. R. Ammons, "Cascadilla Falls";
  4. W.H. Auden (including his explicitly SF-nal poem in Scientific American), "After Reading A Child's Guide to Modern Physics", "In Memory of Sigmund Freud", "Unpredictable but Providential" (For Loren Eiseley);
  5. Mary Barnard, "The Pleides";
  6. William Blake (1757-1827), Jerusalem [I.6-20 on Newton, Bacon, Locke];
  7. Robert Bly, "Return to Solitude";
  8. Richard Brautigan, "Poker Star", "Comets";
  9. Robert Bridges, The Testament of Beauty, New York: Oxford University Press, 1929, Book 4, lines 665 & 852 ("Science thru' infinitesimals, spanneth immensities.... Pythagoras, beyond all things, saw Mathematick");
  10. William Bronk (1918-), "Indeterminacy Determines Us";
  11. Robert Browning (1812-1889), "Caliban Upon Setebos, or Natural Theology in the Island" [Darwin], "Paracelsus";
  12. Samuel Butler, Hudibras, 1663, Part I, Canto 1, (Hudibras' irritating talents include mathematical skill); "The Elephant in the Moon";
  13. John Ciardi (including his books of limericks co-authored with Isaac Asimov), "My Father's Watch";
  14. Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-1861), "Uranus", Natura Naturans;
  15. Leonard Cohen, Candian novelist/songwriter, "At Night with Telescope";
  16. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1850), "A Mathematical Problem", in The Complete Poetical Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Vol.1, London: Oxford University Press, 1912 (versified construction of an equilateral triangle); "Religious Musings" [Origins of Science; Newton & Priestley];
  17. Robert Conquest (1917-xxxx), "Humanities";
  18. Jeni Couzyn, John Brunner points to her "Human Pie";
  19. J. V. Cunningham, "Meditation on Statistical Method", in Mark Strand (ed.), Contemporary American Poets, New York: New American Library, 1969;
  20. Dante Alighieri, "Il Convivio" (The Banquet, 1304-1307), Tractate 2.14 (Jupiter), English translation: William Walrond Jackson, Dante's Convivio, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1909 (the circle cannot be squared because its boundary is curved); and Paradisio (1321), Cantos 15 & 33 (the Primal Intellect generates all knowledge, as unity generates all numbers; our relationship to God surpasses human comprehension, like circle-squaring);
  21. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), Zoonomia; The Botanic Garden; The Temple of Nature;
  22. Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829", "The Sons of Genius";
  23. Emily Dickenson, "'Arcturus is his other name", "Lightly stepped a yellow star";
  24. James Dickey, "For the Nightly Ascent of the Hunter Orion over a Forest Clearing";
  25. John Donne, "Lovers' Infiniteness", "The Primrose" (numerology of love), "Elegy upon the Untimely Death of the Incomparable Prince Henry" (geometrical metaphors), "Obsequies to the Lord Harrington" (geometry), "Of the Progress of the Soul" (geometry); "To the Countess of Huntingdon" (on Kepler's nova);
  26. John Dryden (1631-1700), "Upon the Death of Lord Hastings [Stonehenge], "Annus Mirabilis" [Navigation];
  27. Loren [Corey] Eisley, born 1907, (best known for his essays on anthropology, archaeology, and science);
  28. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), "Monadnoc" ["the atoms march in tune..."];
  29. William Empson (1906-xxxx), "The World's End", "High Dive", "Letter I", "Letter V", Collected Poems, New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1956, appended notes explain non-trivial mathematical references), "Invitation to Juno", "Note on Local Flora", "Doctrinal Point";
  30. William Everson, "In the Shift of the Stars", "Who sees through the Lens", "Orion", etc.;
  31. Robert Frost, "A Loose Mountain", "Astrometaphysical", "A Wishing Well", "Canis major", "Choose Something Like a Star", "Fire and Ice", "The Literate Farmer and the Planet Venus", "Skeptic", "A Star in a Stone-Boat", "Stars", "The Star-Splitter", "Why Wait for Science?";
  32. John Gower, Confessio Amantis, 1386-1393, Book 7, Lines 145-202, on Aristotle's subdivision of mathematics, in Robert Edouard Moritz, ed., Memorabilia Mathematica, New York: Macmillan, 1914;
  33. Thomas Gray (1716-1771), "Luna Habitabilis";
  34. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928), "In a Museum"; "Epitaph for G.K. Chesterton";
  35. H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), "Stars Wheel in Purple";
  36. John Hollander, "The Great Bear";
  37. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1849), "Extracts from a Medical Poem";
  38. Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), "I am Like a Slip of Comet", "The Starlight Night", "That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of Resurrection";
  39. A. E. Houseman, "Revolution", "Stars, I Have Seen them Fall", "When First My Way to Fair I Took (Time, in adding wealth, inevitably subtracts youth);
  40. Roald Hoffman, born in Zloczow, Poland; Nobel Laureate in Chemistry (1981) whose 2 books of poetry are Gaps and Verges, Orlando FL: University of Central Florida Press, 1990; and Chemistry Imagined, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993?
  41. Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) "Fifth Philosopher's Song";
  42. Julian Huxley (1887-1975), "To a Dancer", "Cosmic Death";
  43. David Ignatow (b.1914), "Poet to Physicist in his Laboratory";
  44. Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), many poems draw directly on astronomy, geology, evolutionary biology; "The Great Explosion", "Margrave", "Nova", "October Evening", "Star-Swirls", The Beginning and the End and Other Poems, New York: Random House, particularly "The Great Wound" and "The Silent Shepherds"; The Double Axe and Other Poems, New York: Liveright, 1977, particularly "The Inhumanist". Parts 9 & 36 (mathematics itself as profound metaphor); "To a Roan Stallion";
  45. Ben Johnson (1572-1637), The Alchemist;
  46. David Jones (1895-1974), "A Scientific Psalm" from Anathemata;
  47. Galway Kinnell (b.1927), "For the Lost Generation";
  48. Stanley Kunitz, "The Science of the Night";
  49. Lawrence Lerner, John Brunner points to his "A.R.T.H.U.R.";
  50. Vachel Lindsay, "Poems about the Moon, I: Euclid", from The Congo and Other Poems, New York: Macmillan, 1914 (a diagram of a circle is just a picture of the moon);
  51. Archibald MacLeish (1892-1982), "Reply to Mr.Wordsworth";
  52. Louis MacNeice (1907-1963), "Portrait of the Scientist" from The Kingdom; "Variation on Heraclitus";
  53. Andrew Marvell, "The Definition of Love" (geometrical metaphors);
  54. Michael McClure, in Scratching the Beat Surface, North Point Press, 1982, has essays on the Beat movement's relationship between science and poetry, discussing biophsyicist Harold Morowitz, evolutionist Ernst Haeckel, science philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, etc. in the context of Snyder, Ginsberg, Kerouac, and Su Tung-p'o...
  55. Herman Melville (1819-1891), as discussed in The Civil War World of Herman Melville by Stanton Garner, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, reviewed in The New York Times Book Review, 31 Oct 93, pp.44-45: "Mr. Garner argues that Melville was the only poet who had the tools and temperment to portray the full horror of the war. Melville recognized that the North and South were fighting a new kind of war, with technological ingenuity replacing individual heroism. He developed what Mr. Garner calls 'a crank and piston versification' to describe the battles of the ironclad ships, ruefully noting that 'War yet shall be, but warriors/ Are now but operatives...."; "The New Zealot to the Sun";
  56. James Merrill, "To a Pocket Calculator", The New Yorker, 2 May 1983, p.38;
  57. Edna St.Vincent Millay, "Euclid Alone has Looked on Beauty Bare", from The Harp-Weavers, 1923;
  58. Marianne Moore (1887-1972), "In the Days of Prismatic Colour", "Four Quartz Crystal Clocks";
  59. Henry More (16xx-16xx), "Democritus Platonissans", The Infinity of Worlds, Insomnium Philosophicum;
  60. Edwin Morgan (distinguished Scottish poet) and author of Star Gate, Glasgow: Third Eye Centre, 1979, on the moons of Jupiter; "Interference" and the Twilight-zoney "The First Men on Mercury" and "Computer Christmas Card" poems [all now available in Poems of Thirty Years, Manchester: Carcanet, 1982];
  61. Howard Nemerov, "During a Solar Eclipse", "Unscientific Postscript", "Cosmic Comics", "Seeing Things";
  62. Alfred Noyes (1880-1958), "William Herschel Conducts" from The Torch-Bearers;
  63. Katharine O'Brien, "Three Haiku: What is Mathematics", American Mathematical Monthly 88 (1981) p.626; "Bilateral Convolution", American Mathematical Monthly 93 (1986) p.399;
  64. J. Robert Oppenheimer (father of the A-bomb, whose poem "Crossing" appears in Songs for Unsung Worlds, and who wrote an important essay of criticism "Science and Culture" in the October 1962 issue of Encounter);
  65. David Pettys, "Spaces (for Samuel Beckett" (the center of an unbounded universe may be your heap of manuscripts), in Digby & Brier Permutations: Readings in Science and Literature, qv;
  66. Hyam Plutzik, "An Equation", in George P. Elliot (ed), 15 Modern American Poets, New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1956, (the beauty of a mathematical curve lies in a realm beyond human suffering);
  67. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), "To Science"; "al araaf" predicted discussions of the Big Bang
  68. Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, (1728, 1743), Book 2, line 285, Book 4, lines 31-34 (the reign of Dullness suppresses all human arts but mad mathematics); "Epitaph on Newton"; "An Essay on Man";
  69. Kenneth Rexroth, "Moon Festival", "A Lesson in Geography", "Blood on a Dead World", "The Great Nebula of Andromeda", "Halley's Comet", "The Heart of Herakles", "A Maze of Sparks of Gold", "Protoplasm of Light", "A Sword in a Cloud of Light", "Lute Music", "On What Planet?", "Theory of Numbers"; also mathematical poems "The Phoenix and the Tortoise", Part 4; "The Dragon and the Unicorn", Part 1; and "The Heart's Garden, the Garden's Heart". part 2, in The Collected Longer Poems of Kenneth Rexroth, New York: New Directions, 1968; and "An Equation for Marie", Fundemental Disagreement with Two Contemporaries" (mathematical jargon in dispute with surrealists), "Inversely, as the Square of Their Distance Apart" (gravitation as a symbol for love), "OTTFFSSENTE" (rhapsody on the word "dozen"), "Phronesis, III", "The Place", "Theory of Numbers", "A Lemma by Constance Reid" (a prose passage from an early Reid book as an unrhymed poem), in The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth, New York: New Directions, 1966;
  70. Adrienne Rich, "Planetarium";
  71. Muriel Rukeyser, "The Dam", in The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1978, pp.95-98 (the mathematical beauty of the result outweighs the corruption of the builders); "Gibbs" (on the detached quest for mathematical understanding);
  72. Carl Sandburg, whose book Potato Face, New York: Harcourt, 1930, contains a dozen fantasy stories; "Four Preludes on Playthings of the Wind" has a lost-race element.
  73. Sir Walter Scott, who invented the Historical Novel and revived Scottish fantasy poetry. The Historical Novel, it should be said, bears some inverse relationship to Science Fiction, as both involve a meticulously researched/invented setting and an appreciation of the currents of time from past through present to future to achieve the distancing from present reality. The two are thus equally more difficult to write well than the mundane "realistic" novel, the former because of the need to preserve verifiability and validity with the historic record, the latter because it must extrapolate a consistently detailed future.
  74. Anne Sexton, "Riding the Elevator into the Sky", "The Starry Night";
  75. Percy Bysshe Shelley (xxxx-xxxx), Prometheus Unbound;
  76. Jane Shore, "An Astronomer's Journal";
  77. Christopher Smart (1722-1771), "On the Omniscience of the Supreme Being";
  78. Stephen Spender, "Earth-Treading Stars that make Dark Heaven Light", "Bagatelles XII: Renaissance Hero" ("A galaxy of cells composed a system...");
  79. William Stafford (xxx-1993), "The Stars in the Hills";
  80. Wallace Stevens, "The Motive for Metaphor" (x = the exciting unknown), "Six Significant Landscapes" (moralized geometry";
  81. Peter Straub (b.1941), "Wolf on the Plains", Open Air, Dublin: Shannon, 1972;
  82. Sara Teasdale, "Stars";
  83. Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), "Locksley Hall", "In Memorium", "Lucretius";
  84. D. M. Thomas (now famous for novels such as The White Hotel, Ararat, Swallow, he first achieved notice for poems in New Worlds, many of which critiqued short stories by Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke)
  85. Lionel Trilling, who sums up the debate between the Richmond Lecture of Leavis and The Two Cultures scientism of C.P. Snow, in the June 1962 issue of Commentary
  86. Lewis Turco, mainstream except for SF&F in A Cage of Creatures and Seasons of the Blood
  87. Frederick Turner (major poet, critic, academic, and author of the science fiction poetry epics The New World and Genesis), see p.60 ff;
  88. John Updike, whose science fiction poetry has appeared in Scientific American and other unlikely places (also cited by Anne McCaffrey), "Ode to Rot" The Atlantic Monthly Jan.1985, "Cosmic Gall", "White Dwarf", "Seven Stanzas at Easter"; and the mathematical symbolism in the long autobiographical title poem of Midpoint and Other Poems, New York: Knopf, 1969; "The Moons of Jupiter", American Scholar, Vol.51, pp.483-486, Autumn 1982;
  89. Mark Van Doren (1894-1972), "Orion: October"; "The God of Galaxies" from One Hundred Poems, New York: Hill and Wang, 1967;
  90. Vernon Watkins (1906-1967), "Discoveries";
  91. Robert Watson, "The Radio Astronomer", "Swan X One";
  92. Robert Penn Warren, "I Stargazing";
  93. Walt Whitman (1819-1892): the quintessentially "Modern" 19th century poet, influenced by biomedical training (as a nurse), extensive readings in naturalism, ambivalent enthusiasm for technology; Leaves of Grass ["all space, all time ... beyond thy telesope or spectrascope", Song of Myself [1159-1169 on nebulas, strata, sauroids], "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer" [see p.18];
  94. Richard Wilbur [examples cited in next section], "Under Cygnus", "In the Field", "Lamarck Elaborated";
  95. William Carlos Williams: Paul Mariani, in editing "Studiously Unprepared" (notes by W. C.Williams, Sulfur 4, printed at Santa Monica CA: Beyond Baroque, published at Caltech, Pasadena CA, 1982] says: "What would the poet as scientist tell his skeptical audiences? That the new poetry should be able to use anything -- ANYTHING -- for its subject." Quoting Williams directly: "A new measure in the structural form of the poem to give an enhanced freedom of movement to the understanding within the limits of the composition. This is the necessity facing the broadening of knowledge today in the social and physical sciences as contrasted with formerly acceptable limits. The mind, that is, has taken the pattern from its new habits enforced by the social and physical sciences.... Thus we may find it in verse as in chemistry -- and if it is valid in one it is likely to be valid in the other..." [pp.15,20,30]
  96. William Wordsworth, "The Prelude", 1830, Book 2, lines 203-205; Book 5, lines 65-114 (poetry vs. geometry); Book 6, lines 115-167 (charms of geometry); Book 3, lines 60-63 (Newton), Book 8, lines 220-230 (Archimedes); "To the Planet Venus";
  97. James Wright, "To the Evening Star", "Central Minnesota";
[Do we need to rank Science Fiction and Fantasy poets? In 19th Century, Poe stands supreme in both Science Fiction and in Fantasy. In 20th Century, Clark Ashton Smith dominates fantasy poetry. But there is no clear leader in 20th Century Science Fiction Poetry; does that contribute to the marginalization? The writer with the most SF poems and prose-poems published would seem to be Bruce Boston, with approximately 700, with Steve Sneyd possibly having as many as 2000 (not all published). The most published essays on SF&F poetry seem to be by Jonathan Vos Post (6), Michael Collings (7), Suzette Haden Elgin (10), Gene van Troyer (10), and Robert Frazier (13). There is no unambiguous super science fiction/fantasy poet/critic. I have provided a significant quantity of reference material here, much collated from secondary sources, a new and perhaps more objective set of definitions, and have pointed to areas in which major work remains to be done (Russia, non-European non-English poetry, etc.), but do not feel that the genre has yet produced an internationally recognized critic of major stature to properly add Science Fiction and Fantasy to the poetry canon.]

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Copyright 1996, 1997 by Magic Dragon Multimedia.
All rights reserved. May not be reproduced without permission.
May be posted electronically provided that it is transmitted unaltered, in its entirety, and without charge.