Adolfo Ochagavía

Curiosity and sense of wonder

Roughly two months ago I posted a fragment of Fred Brooks’ The Mythical Man-Month, which I find particularly inspiring. And guess what… I’m not the only one who feels touched by that passage! Upon reading it, a friend sent me the following message, which I include here with his permission: WOWWWWWW, THIS IS BEAUTIFUL. It’s exactly what I felt last weeks but could not put into words!1

Motivated by his reaction, I thought about other texts I’ve come across that inspire me as a programmer and as a human being. Today I want to share fragments of two poems that, in my eyes, embody the curiosity and sense of wonder that pervade my work and, to some extent, my life.

By the way, I’m restraining myself from explaining why exactly these poems move me… I’d rather let them speak for themselves, instead of distracting you with my words. If you really want to know what I think, I’m just an email away!

And now, I leave you in the hands of Chesterton and Tolkien. See you next time!

A second childhood - G. K. Chesterton

When all my days are ending
And I have no song to sing,
I think that I shall not be too old
To stare at everything;
As I stared once at a nursery door
Or a tall tree and a swing.


Men grow too old for love, my love,
Men grow too old for wine,
But I shall not grow too old to see
Unearthly daylight shine,
Changing my chamber’s dust to snow
Till I doubt if it be mine.


Behold, the crowning mercies melt,
The first surprises stay;
And in my dross is dropped a gift
For which I dare not pray:
That a man grow used to grief and joy
But not to night and day.

Full version

I sit beside the fire and think - J. R. R. Tolkien

Context: this is a fragment of a song by Bilbo, which he sings to Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring.

I sit beside the fire and think
   of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
   in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
   in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
   and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
   of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
   that I shall ever see.

For still there are so many things
   that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
   there is a different green.

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  1. Original Dutch: WOWWWWWW, DIT IS PRACHTIG. Het is precies wat ik voelde afgelopen weken maar niet onder woorden kon brengen! ↩︎