Tag Archives: Edgar Allan Poe

The Hacker

(After Poe’s ‘The Raven’)

Once upon a midnight dreary,  browsing websites weak and weary,
Over many a meme I’d seen before,
While I nodded, sleep-eye wiping, suddenly there came a typing,
As of some old friend skyping, skyping at my monitor.
`’Tis some spam,’ I muttered, `skyping at my monitor –
Only this, and nothing more.’

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each facebook member posts their food and sporting score.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From the internet a cease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

And the lilting loop of each user’s sign in
Thrilled me – filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`’Tis some spammer entreating entrance at my monitor –
Some spambot entreating entrance at my monitor; –
This it is, and nothing more,’

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,’ typed I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is my eyes were drooping, and so gently was the booping,
And so faintly you came typing, skyping at my monitor,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I brightened my monitor; –
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But silence began to sink, and the darkness gave no link,
And the only word there typed was the italic word, `Lenore!’
This I cut and pasted, and text pinged back the word, `Lenore!’
Merely this and nothing more.

Back to the browser turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a typing somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,’ said I, `surely that is something at my window software;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore –
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; –
‘Tis some spam and nothing more!’

Open here I clicked the link, when, with many a drag and scroll,
Up there popped a chat avatar like emoticons of years before.
Not the least ‘sup’ or ‘lol’ made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with manner of spam or hacker, froze upon my monitor –
Overlapped my Pallas wallpaper on my monitor –
Overlapped, and froze, and nothing more.

Then this ebony box beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the textbox it wore,
`Though thy looks be much like spam, thou,’ I said, `art sure no scam.
Ghastly grim and ancient hacker wandering from the nightly shore –
Tell me what thy lordly name is in the Matrix core!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

Much I marvelled this anonymous chat to read discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning – little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing text upon his monitor –
Spam or bot above the statue wallpaper upon his monitor,
With such name as `Nevermore.’

But the chat, sitting lonely atop the wallpaper, showed only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he typed – not a character then he skyped –
Till I scarcely more than griped `Other friends have spammed before –
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have shown before.’
Then the chat said, `Nevermore.’

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly keyed in,
`Doubtless,’ said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some shady database whom unmerciful lowercase
Pinged fast and loaded faster till his code one burden bore –
Till the software of his system that melancholy burden bore
Of “Never-nevermore.”‘

But the hacker still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of chat and wallpaper and monitor;
Then, upon the leather sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous avatar of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous avatar of yore
Meant in typing `Nevermore.’

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fiend whose blinking cursor now burned into my bosom’s core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion’s leather lining that the lamp-light gloated o’er,
But whose leather stitched lining with the lamp-light gloating o’er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, I heard a grinding, system slower, lagging from a muted iTune
Sung by U2 whose drum-beat silenced on the muted stereo.
`Wretch,’ I cried, `thy Programmer hath lent thee – by these dial-tones sent thee
Sprites – Sprite and Gin from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind tonic, and forget this lost Lenore!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if spambot or devil! –
Whether troller sent, or whether mailing list tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted –
On this home by horror haunted – tell me truly, I implore –
Is there – is there ointment in your drawer? – tell me – tell me, I implore!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Prophet!’ said I, `thing of evil! – prophet still, if spambot or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us – by that God we both adore –
Tell this soul with heavy heart if, within the distant bonus level,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore –
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

`Be that word our sign of logging off, spambot or fiend!’ I shrieked upstarting –
`Get thee back into the matrix and the Ethernet’s core!
Leave no hard drive wiped as a token of that lie thy soul hath typed!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! – quit the chat window upon my monitor!
Take thy cursor from out my heart, and take thy form from off my monitor!’
Typeth the hacker, `Nevermore.’

And the hacker, cursor never sinking, still is blinking, still is blinking
On the wallpaper gif of Pallas that decorates my monitor;
And his blinks have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the backlight o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the monitor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted – nevermore!

To Lesbia

Okay, so this is something a little bit out of the ordinary (and by far my longest post—almost 500!), but I figured I’d try it out. I’m taking a translation class, and this week I had to translate a poem by Catullus from Latin to English, first as literal as possible, and then kinda in my own way. Here’s the Latin that I was given:

Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus
rumoresque senum severiorum
omnes unius aestimemus assis.
Soles occidere et redire possunt:
nobis cum semel occidit brevis lux,
nox est perpetua una dormienda.
Da mi basia mille, deinde centum
dein mille altera, dein secunda centum,
deinde usque altera mille, deinde centum.
dein, cum milia multa fecerimus,
conturbabimus illa, ne sciamus
aut ne quis malus invidere possit,
cum tantum sciat esse basiorum.

Now, I don’t know Latin at all, so if there’s anybody out there who does know Latin, feel free to correct me if I messed anything up. I took a few liberties, I admit, but this is what I arrived at for the literal translation (or as close to it as I could figure out):

Let us live, my Lesbia, and let us truly
love the rumors of all the old men,
single and severe, value them like coins.
Let us get used to death and give back to it when we can:
let us, on occasion, marry death with this brief day life,
for with night will come perpetual slumber.
Give me a thousand kisses, then one hundred,
then another thousand, then a second hundred,
then even another thousand, then a hundred,
then, when we’ve produced those many thousands,
we must scatter them, truly understand
or else assuredly that which is ugly will envy what we can do,
when only we can know the way we touch our lips.

Alright, that gives us a little something to work with at least. I probably should’ve stuck to the literal translation a bit more in my final version, but I guess I’ll let you guys decide:

Let us live, my dear, and let us love, and learn
to love even the way the older world
admires our newness, jealous from afar.

Let us get to know them, and accustomed
to their gnarled hands and words, their scoffs and doubts,
so we may avoid their ways near to death.

Before we sleep, our four lips will have kissed
thousands and thousands and thousands of times;
what will they who have lost love know of us?

We shall have kisses enough to scatter
them like petals before our feet; we shall
have more kisses than the old have curses
to throw at them; we shall die from kisses:
the old will think they’ve won once we are gone.

So that’s that. Not too shabby for my first translation, right? I’m sure it’s not even close, but I’m fine with that. Hopefully my next assignment will be in a language I actually know….