The Poet and the Robot

Jon Terry was a prolific poet who dedicated all his life to write short verses in the paper. “I live by the pen, and I’ll die by the pen”, he liked to say. He wrote of broken hearts, of long lost friendships, of unfulfilled dreams and of the pain of regret.

One day his editor said that they were brining a poem-writing unit: a robot with a creative brain who could write the most inspired poems of all.

“A poet is nothing but a poet.” Jon, said. “You can’t replace a heart with a machine.”

But the editor claimed the machine could write a hundred poems a day and make a reader cry a hundred times. Clearly no man could ever match that.

“Let me and the machine write a poem every day,” Jon said, “and let the readers decide whose poems they like best.”

The poems were published under pseudonyms: the Hammer and the Drill. And that’s how the competition started. Man vs. Machine. Poet vs. Robot. Hammer vs. Drill.

For a year the poems were published and the public sent their letters of praise. The Hammer was ahead one day, the Drill the next.

Jon wrote day and night and the longer the competition lasted, the longer hours he worked. Jon was so obsessed that he barely left the house. His neighbors avoided him, his friends stopped calling, and his dog abandoned him. And about all that pain, he wrote poem after poem.

“I will end this competition with one last poem.” Jon declared. “And I will win it for every human who’s yet to come.”

The paper published the poem and announced the end of the competition. The last poem Jon wrote was a suicide note. The Hammer was dead.

Readers inundated the paper with letters of admiration and grief. The Hammer was given the final victory. And from that day on all robot poets write their own version of the tale of the Hammer and the Drill.

July 25, 2017


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