Recently, the poet wife of a good friend left this world. She had once asked me what I missed most about my days as a lecturer. Without hesitation I said it was witnessing those brilliant moments when students suddenly understand something complex or see, for the first time, the elegance and beauty in a software algorithm. She could relate to that.

Yesterday, purely by coincidence, I decided to open my most recent reprint of Knuth’s Art of Computer Programming and start from the beginning, as I did many, many years ago. I have no idea why, but if you believe in “those kind of things” you may be stunned by the opening line from Chapter 1 (emphasis mine):

The process of preparing programs for a digital computer is especially attractive, not only because it can be economically and scientifically rewarding, but also because it can be an aesthetic experience much like composing poetry or music.

Over the preceding 48 hours, for reasons I don’t understand, I had revisited a niche art known as Perl Poetry and tried my hand at it. My tiny artistic portfolio comprises mainly detailed line drawings but no poetry, so this new contribution to art is hard to judge. What I do know is that it is syntactically valid source code and will be interpreted correctly by a Perl 5.10+ compiler. Don’t run it, though, because this source code is meant to be interpreted by mere humans. I dedicate this code to Shirley, and hope Philip forgives my impetuousness:

# Together

bless our $HOME and open( Hearts4, "loving" );
  seek( & $u->can(), find(),

study each %_); for($ever or die (tr/y/ing/)){};
  do {accept( 1, & 1 ) and bind

(join ($u, 2), &me); } while sleep$ing;
  do {not sin or kill time};

wait and listen 2, my $WARNING;
  tell each %_2; say( our$s, not $mine );


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