Category: poem

My Translation of Nikola Tesla’s Poem

By J. J. Jones

“Fragments of Olympian Gossip.” By Nikola Tesla

While listening on my cosmic phone (Nikola Tesla listening to his receiving device in his laboratory)

I caught words from the Olympus blown. (He’s eavesdropping on heaven, or Olympus, where the Gods of science live)

A newcomer was shown around; (A well-known scientist must have passed away on earth and is being shown around heaven)

That much I could guess, aided by sound. (From what Tesla could hear through his device)

“There’s Archimedes with his lever.” (The mysterious chaperone points out Archimedes)

“Still busy on problems as ever.” (Who even in the afterlife is still working on his mathematical problems) 

“Says: matter and force are transmutable.” (Archimedes thought matter and force can be changed from one nature to another)

“And wrong the laws you thought immutable.” (The newcomer must have thought force and matter were unalterable)

“Below, on Earth, they work at full blast.” (Earth is busy as always)

“And news are coming in thick and fast.” (News from earth to heaven)

“The latest tells of a cosmic gun.” (Around the time this poem was conducted Guglielmo Marconi was frightening the public with a “ray-gun” for war)

“To be pelted is very poor fun.” (violence is immoral)

“We are wary with so much at stake,” (Heaven is wary of mankind)

“Those beggars are a pest—no mistake.” (The attention seekers of science are becoming nuisances)

“Too bad, Sir Isaac, they dimmed your renown.” (The newcomer finally speaks to his chaperone, who we now learn is Isaac Newton)

“And turned your great science upside down.” (Modern science is ruining Newtonian physics)

“Now a long haired crank, Einstein by name,” (Albert Einstein)

“Puts on your high teaching all the blame.” (Einstein’s theories oppose Newtonian physics)

“Says: matter and force are transmutable.” (Einstein, like Archimedes, thought force and matter is interchangeable. Issac Newton believed matter and force are unalterable)

“And wrong the laws you thought immutable.” (Einstein’s physics suggest that Newtonian physics are false)

“I am much too ignorant, my son,” (Issac Newton speaking again)

“For grasping schemes so finely spun.” (Referring to Einstein’s metaphysics)

“My followers are of stronger mind” (Those scientists who still follow Newtonian physics and cause and effect)

“And I am content to stay behind,” (He’ll stick with his own theories and let science go in err)

“Perhaps I failed, but I did my best,”

“These masters of mine may do the rest.” (Nikola Tesla)

“Come, Kelvin, I have finished my cup.” (We now learn that the newcomer is Lord Kelvin. He was a great scientist and a good friend of Tesla’s who had passed away in 1907.)

“When is your friend Tesla coming up?” (Newton asking Kelvin when Tesla will join them in Olympus)

“Oh, quoth Kelvin, he is always late, (Tesla was never on time)

"It would be useless to remonstrate.” (And it’s pointless to try and change it)

Then silence—shuffle of soft slippered feet—(End of conversation between Kelvin and Newton)

I knock and—the bedlam of the street. (Tesla departs from his dream and his laboratory into the busy streets of New York City)

(Poem written by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s to his friend George Sylvester Viereck.)

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you.”

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”

Frank Zappa


“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.”

Frank Zappa


“We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.”

The Great Dictator (1940), Dir. Charlie Chaplin


“We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery.”

The Great Dictator (1940), Dir. Charlie Chaplin


“Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.”

Roberto Bolaño, 2666

“Reading is like thinking, like praying, like talking to a friend, like expressing your ideas, like listening to other people’s ideas, like listening to music, like looking at the view, like taking a walk on the beach.”

Roberto Bolaño, 2666

“Too bad, Sir Isaac, they dimmed your renown
And turned your great science upside down.
Now a long haired crank, Einstein by name,
Puts on your high teaching all the blame.
Says: matter and force are transmutable
And wrong the laws you thought immutable.”
“I am much too ignorant, my son,
For grasping schemes so finely spun.
My followers are of stronger mind
And I am content to stay behind,
Perhaps I failed, but I did my best,
These masters of mine may do the rest.“

–Nikola Tesla

From “Fragments of Olympian Gossip.” (Poem written by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s to his friend George Sylvester Viereck.)