Dismissal Of A Hoax: Voltaire's Writes Of A Poem Entitled, "Starwatcher" [revised after posting]

[Excerpt from a letter to Mr. Le Docteur Ralph]


Of course I have no proof or evidence

by which I can give fullest demonstration

that this epyllion, Starwatcher, must

be a mere romance if not a cheap hoax.
I make appeal to your intelligence

and to the rationale of common sense.
Or what other conclusion can we coax

out of the manuscript; despite its diction

(more like Lucan's Pharsalia than not)

it is no scholar's history, but fiction;

against good science, it flings contradiction:

it asks us to accept what it assumes,

to witness some apocalyptic visions

told by the a young man outside of a tomb's

entrance; perhaps not the best of conditions.

This Greek tale that I read in French translation

has been too much debated and discussed:

and that makes my stomach roll with disgust.

A forgery, a joke, a Christian plot

to bait us with this illogicality,

the document is someone else's botch, sir,

without a Deist's objectivity;

no, not for us, this lowered comedy,

this fake news that someone has called, Starwatcher.


To you, this letter will be posted where

you are spending a holiday of rare

delight and, I hope, without the least care:


I am your humble servant, sir:  Voltaire.



Author's Notes/Comments: 

This letter was first quoted in one of Stendhal's brief articles; it was recommended as a valid criticism by Countess Marie D'Agoult, writing under her pseudonym Daniel Stern.  The letter was translated into English by the American poet, Sundial, in his collection, Miscellania For Gnomen.  I have relied on Sundial's translation for the structure and wording of this poem.

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patriciajj's picture

The allusions to historical

The allusions to historical anecdotes and the classic, cultivated voice make this a purely satisfying read. As always, well done. 

Januarian's picture

Thank you very much.  This

Thank you very much.  This research has been a little daunting to me, but your kind encouragement helps me to keep going on.  I am so grateful for your words.


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