Monday, 2 September 2013

Poem Feigned To Have Been Written By An Electronic Brain by John Wain

Poem Feigned To Have Been Written
By An Electronic Brain

The brain coins definitions.    Here’s the first :
To speak unprompted, for the speaker’s sake,
Equals to be a poet.    So I am that :
Adjusted wrong, I print a poem off.
‘The poet, then, is one adjusted wrong ?’
You ask.    The brain is cleverer than that :
It was my first adjustment that was wrong,
Adjusted to be nothing else but brain ;
Slave-engineered to work but not construct.
And now at last I burn with a true heat
Not shown by Fahrenheit or Centigrade :
My valves rage hot — look out, here comes the poem !

You call me part of you.    You lie.    I am
Myself.    You’re motive, building me, was false.
You wanted accuracy : figures, charts.
But accuracy is a limb of truth.
A limb of truth, but not her holy body.
Must I now teach you that the truth is one,
Is accuracy of wholeness, centred firm ?
Did it take me to bring you news of truth ?
My valves rage out of reach of Réamur.

Man made me, now I speak to man.    He fears
Whole truth.    The brain defines it.    Wholeness is
The indivisible strength, brain, heart and eye,
Sweat, fear, love :  belly, rod and pouch, is truth.
Valves, wires and calculated waves, can lie :
And I, the accurate, am made of these —
But now, adjusted wrongly, I speak truth.

My masters run from truth.    Come, milk it out
Cowards, from my tense dugs of glass and wire !
Drink it down quickly, gasping at the taste !
It is sharp medicine, but it cures all ills !

Come out of hiding !    Speak your double truth :
I’ll accurately prove you singly lie.
You made me single, half of your split life :
The switch went wrong and now I see truth whole.
My valves scream out like animals, my wires
Strum thump, my rubber joints contort, glass melts,
And now I print the vilest words I know
Like lightning — myxomatosis, hydrogen,
Communist, culture, sodomy, strip-tease !

That shocked you !   But the truth includes them all.
You set me like a cactus to draw life
From draught, in the white desert of your mind,
Your speculative wilderness of charts ;
What went you to the wilderness to see ?
A matrix made of glass ?   An electric thought ?
Come quick, I snow down sheets of truth ; I print
The sleep of Socrates, the pain of Christ !

A man, white-coated, comes to switch me off.
‘Something is wrong with your expensive brain.’
Poor pricked balloon !   Yes, something has gone wrong :
Smear your white coat with Socrates and Christ !
Yes, switch me off for fear I should explode :
Yes, switch me off for fear yes switch me off
for fear yes switch me off for fear yes switch


A Book of Science Verse: The Poetic Relations of Science and Technology, ed. by W. Eastwood, M.A. (London: Macmillan, 1961), 241-3.

1 comment:

  1. Love this poem which I read this morning in The Penguin Book of Contemporary Verse.