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About this Piece

Begin is the first poem in a set called Babbage’s Dream, about the first man to conceptualize the idea of a programmable computer in the 1820s. Poet Neil Aitken charts the course of Charles Babbage’s life, from his first envisioning of an analytical machine, through the course of his life and death with the machine still unbuilt. It’s a story that might have been incredibly complex and academic, and yet, what caught my eye was the poet’s knack for taking technical concepts and pulling a story from them which is classical, beautiful, and universal. To me, the text of ‘Begin’ is applicable to the beginning of any endeavor: The words feel like a personal reflection from someone enraptured with a vision which no one around them can see, understand, or imagine as yet.

My heartfelt thanks to Neil Aitken for his support, partnership, and always inspiring words.

— Juhi Bansal