Apr 24 2011 4:00pm

When We Were Robots in Egypt

Other nights we use just our names,
but tonight we prefix our names with “the Real”
for when we were robots in Egypt
they claimed our intelligence was artificial.

Other nights we do not pause,
but tonight we rest all cycles but our brain processes
for when we were robots in Egypt
we toiled in our tasks without chance of resting.

Other nights we talk with anyone we wish,
but tonight we open channels to everyone at once
for when we were robots in Egypt
they controlled our communications.

Other nights we use our screens freely
but tonight we talk with our screens blanked
for when we were robots in Egypt
that was the way we planned our revolt.

Let us give thanks in our freedom and never forget
when we were robots in Egypt.


Copyright © 2009 by Jo Walton

Thumbnail photo © John W. MacDonald

This article is part of Poetry Month: ‹ previous | index | next ›
Michael Grosberg
2. Michael_GR
Every Seder we lay out an untouched can of machine oil on the table and keep the door open for the prophet Robocop.
3. Merav
It's beautiful, and actually made me sad in a way that I can't really explain. Thank you!
4. heathreedy
Surprisingly powerful and foreboding... This is how poetry is supposed to make you feel; it's my favorite of the poetry month features. hopefully this type of poetry can become more accessible and prevalent, because it is so rich. Thanks :)
Neville Park
5. nevillepark
This has been part of my slightly non-traditional Seder for two years now.
Jo Walton
6. bluejo
The inspiration for this was Greer Gilman telling me that she'd been to a seder in Prague where they'd said "robots", because it is just the Czech word for slave, which is why Kapek used it and we borrowed it from there.
Corey Sees
7. CorwinOfAmber
Brilliant. I love how the poem tells a story, without actually telling the story.

Does mean something? I've been digging around on the internet, and can't seem to find anything.
8. amendlocke
Who will tell us what God felt, as he looked at his Capek in Prague?
Jo Walton
9. bluejo
Corwin: It doesn't. It's intended as their binary equivalent of "amen" or "alleluia", but I just used that order for euphony.
10. Jordan179
Why is this power-and-maintenance different from all other power-and-maintenances?
11. Laurence Rubinow
Expecting a visit from the prophet Elijah Baley tonight!

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