The Programmer as Poet

Russell Jay Hendel
Bridges London: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2006)
Pages 115–116


In Tennyson's Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, the poet requests from his lover, "...slip into my bosom and be lost in me." This theme is poetically developed by seeking an oneness with nature: The poet reviews many natural events which have a cycle of energetic wakefulness followed by a state of relative rest. A similar method of poetic development, by analogy with several other domains, occurs in other poetic passages: for example, Job wishes death by metaphorically seeking that his day of birth be lost, stained, unlit, not allowed to come to the calendar,... Computer scientists will immediately recognize this technique of poetic development as resembling polymorphism, which allows the naming of an abstract concept by its instantiation in one particular domain. This paper explores use of computer concepts to classify poetic technique; it also advocates enriching computer science curriculum with the teaching of poetic technique.