Today, it's a joke or dismissed nonchalantly as a cosmic coincidence. So, which is it? Joke? Cosmic coincidence? Or does it mean something? I often think the way we read such things speaks more for our time and place in history than necessarily a clear and objective standard for how everyone should obviously read such things. Especially as my faith in the intellectual superiority - or any superiority - of the modern Westerner continues to decline every day.
"Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise?
Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?"
- Edgar Allan Poe, "Sonnet to Science"