Punch,  35 (1858), 179.

Adieu to the Comet





Astronomy, Observation, Aesthetics, Instruments, Light, Futurism

People mentioned:

George B Airy , John R Hind

    Begins with an extract from The Times remarking on the great attention gained by the disappearing comet. The poem opens by wondering whether the comet is departing so suddenly because it has been offended by 'flippant jests' and 'the tribute of a stare'. Observes how people remarked on its beauty, 'That night you stuck your tail before Arcturus', and wonders what will 'delay your moving' along 'the Grand Orrery, of Newton's grooving'. Believes that the comet regards all the people who observed him, including the 'Sage with ardour mounting / Tower whence his Galileo-glass is thrust', as 'not worth the counting'. Imagines a 'bold atom' asking the comet what it will see in two thousand years time, and its suggestions for what it will see include the planet as 'an extinct volcano, white and dumb', 'Priests still leading, as the blind the blind', and 'Earth's choicest youth fierce rushing to the slaughter'. Speculates on the rules and customs of societies at this future time, including whether law will 'be still the rich man's shield and buckler' and whether Europe will have 'ceased to "make Religion / A rhapsody of words"—and some unclean'. Concludes by informing the departing comet that it has 'no right to make a light strain sad'.

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