poetic programming

“The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures…. Yet the program construct, unlike the poet’s words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separate from the construct itself. […] The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on a keyboard, and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be.”— Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering

Is poetry just as real as software programs? The concepts and emotions evoked in the reader show them “things that never were nor could be?”

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innies and outies

the innies and the outies
all stood in rows
from each family
both the same
from house to house
some in, some out

every one was present
though varied
how they’re berthed
the blue ones
and the green ones
all waited at their curbs

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july is nigh

July is nigh
He’ll likely fly
Summer’s spry
Climate’s cry
Weather wry
Feet will fry
June was shy
Makes me cry
With a sigh
July is nigh

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frinky friends
make amends

mebbe married
mebbe not

one thing’s for sure
they chat a lot

frisky whisky
may be risky

a little drinky
a bunch o’ kinky

the way life wends
the way the body bends

frinky friends
freaky kinky frinky friends

friend kinks
the bond that links

on each other
they can depend

it’s all that matters
in the end

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you guide me
from the shores of night
across the vastness
beyond my sight
over the deep
i tremble with fright
you protect me from
many a precarious plight
beyond what must be
and what just might
you ride night’s wind
like a celestial kite
we pass islands unknown
to our left and our right
forward we journey
ahead beyond the night
at last, up ahead
at the fringe of my sight
a glimmer, then a shimmer
the world begins to light
out of the darkness
you and i ignite
the daily fire of hope
that brings delight

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Wordsworth on poetry

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.
— William Wordsworth

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Grottos and Literature

Literary Grottos

Somewhere between Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Dante’s Inferno, I developed a love for grottos, for garden grottos, and though even more rare, grotto gardens. Though the reference may seem obscure, while reading Inferno in high school, a discussion of the brief reference to a grotto between the dark wood and the underworld instilled in me the mystique of a grotto as a secret portal from the ordinary world to the mystical. Add to this my interpretation of the “Wood Between the Worlds” in C. S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew as also being a grotto, and you may understand a bit of my sense of a grotto being magical. From these references—Inferno and The Magician’s Nephew—one may think I have solely a woodsy feel for grottos, and the role of a garden may not be clear.Gustave_Dore_Inferno1

Figure 1. Gustave Doré — Inferno Illustration


There is a certain garden that is part of an Italian Renaissance style estate built around 1914-1923 in Coconut Grove, Florida. The estate is called Vizcaya. Imagine yourself in an urban subtropical paradise. You escape the metropolis into over forty acres of Italian Renaissance gardens. These gardens are filled with hedges, statues, and stately palm trees. Besides the immense breadth of the gardens, one of the architectural marvels of these gardens is the creation of outdoor rooms—areas that cannot be fully seen from one another as if they were distinct rooms. Terraces and walls of stone and foliage help construct this effect. Within the gardens of Vizcaya are several small grottos. There are also a few larger ones. A short distance from the small bay off of the Atlantic Ocean are stone steps leading up to a Renaissance style architected outdoor stage. The stage is hidden from other parts of the gardens.


Figure 2. Vizcaya Gardens

Connecting the Portals

How is this grotto of Vizcaya’s garden stage tied to literature? For me the connection is from an experience. In 1983 I saw The Tempest performed there. Such productions ran there until 1985. Experiencing a play such as that in an open theater amidst the gardens deepened my sense of wonder at the interplay of literature, theatre, gardens, and architecture. As with other botanical gardens, wandering the grounds of Vizcaya instilled in me an appreciation for the magical, mystical, and musical qualities of a good garden grotto and a good grotto garden.

Where is your sacred space?

What do you associate with grottos? Are there any notable grottos that you would like to share?

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