1866 poem mentioning "the neighbor folk of Mars"

Sep 18, 2020
In 1866, Edward Rowland Sill wrote a poem titled "The Hermitage,"
first published in 1868. A passage in it anticipated space exploration
to the Moon and Mars.

However small the present creature man, —
Ridiculous imitation of the gods,
Weak plagiarism on some completer world, —
Yet we can boast of that strong race to be.
The savage broke the attraction which binds fast
The fibres of the oak, and we to-day
By cunning chemistry can force apart
The elements of the air. That coming race
Shall loose the bands by which the earth attracts;
A drop of occult tincture, a spring touched
Shall outwit gravitation; men shall float,
Or lift the hills and set them down where they will.
The savage crossed the lake, and we the sea.
That coming race shall have no bounds or bars,
But, like the fledgeling eaglet, leave the nest, —
Our earthly eyrie up among the stars, —
And freely soar, to tread the desolate moon,
Or mingle with the neighbor folk of Mars.
Yea, if the savage learned by sign and sound
To bridge the chasm to his fellow's brain,
Till now we flash our whispers round the globe,
That race shall signal over the abyss
To those bright souls who throng the outer courts
Of life, impatient who shall greet men first
And solve the riddles that we die to know.