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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

May Kendall b. 1861

A Pure Hypothesis

AH, love, the teacher we decried,

That erudite professor grim,

In mathematics drenched and dyed,

Too hastily we scouted him.

He said: “The bounds of Time and Space,

The categories we revere,

May be in quite another case

In quite another sphere.”

He told us: “Science can conceive

A race whose feeble comprehension

Can’t be persuaded to believe

That there exists our Fourth Dimension,

Whom Time and Space for ever balk;

But of these beings incomplete,

Whether upon their heads they walk

Or stand upon their feet—

“We cannot tell, we do not know,

Imagination stops confounded;

We can but say ‘It may be so,’

To every theory propounded.”

Too glad were we in this our scheme

Of things, his notions to embrace,—

But—I have dreamed an awful dream

Of Three-dimensioned Space!

I dreamed—the horror seemed to stun

My logical perception strong—

That everything beneath the sun

Was so unutterably wrong.

I thought—what words can I command?—

That nothing ever did come right.

No wonder you can’t understand:

I could not, till last night!

I would not, if I could, recall

The horror of those novel heavens,

Where Present, Past, and Future all

Appeared at sixes and at sevens,

Where Capital and Labor fought,

And, in the nightmare of the mind,

No contradictories were thought

As truthfully combined!

Nay, in that dream-distorted clime,

These fatal wilds I wandered through,

The boundaries of Space and Time

Had got most frightfully askew.

“What is ‘askew’?” my love, you cry;

I cannot answer, can’t portray;

The sense of Everything awry

No language can convey.

I can’t tell what my words denote,

I know not what my phrases mean;

Inexplicable terrors float

Before this spirit once serene.

Ah, what if on some lurid star

There should exist a hapless race,

Who live and love, who think and are,

In Three-dimensioned Space!