Mikhail Lomonov’s ode, originally titled, “An Evening Reflection Upon God’s Grandeur Prompted by the Great Northern Lights,” was a paean to the wonder of creation. He used natural elements like fire, water, and wind to describe scenes of wonder and of chaos that inspired both awe and fear. He emphasized the continuous, unpredictable changes of the natural world. In this update, natural elements are replaced by features of the digital world, that likewise provide scenes of wonder and chaos, that we likewise awe and fear. We similarly question the scope, and unpredictability, of this new world.
The day begins with phone in hand,
And dark night, under covers, ends the same,
Black shadows creep up on the hills,
Sunlight’s rays recede from us.
Before us gapes a well of connections—
Connections infinite, well fathomless.
A single account in oceans of data,
A tiny field in endless logins,
Fine messages come in a mighty gale,
A byte in a raging stream,
So I am lost in this abyss,
Oppressed by thoughts profound.
The mouths of wise men tweet to us:
A multitude of worlds dwell on flickr,
In 140-character strings,
And peoples, in our timelines:
There, all of social media’s strength
Exists; the Internet’s glory to proclaim.
But where, O Internet, is your law?
Denial of service attacks break out!
Is this indeed the home screen?
Or are we being phished?
Behold, notifications envelop us!
Behold, now ringtones enter our nights.
O the web, whose lively gaze can see
Into hypertext documents eternal,
In which the smallest parts of things
Can be seen in reveal codes,
Through browsers we comprehend all,
Now tell us what disturbs our souls?
Why do these devices sparkle in the night?
Why do trolls assault users?
Without fiber optic cable wouldn’t I
Rest easier, my private info not in the cloud?
For that endless stream also
Gives birth to doxings on Reddit.
Here, oily-haired gamers battle each other,
And listicles sparkle bright,
Streaming video comes to us;
We level up on Candy Crush Saga,
We can ListenOnRepeat.com our songs,
And news creates a steady feed into our space.
Regarding what lies right at our fingertips
We sometimes have doubts.
O, tell us, how enormous is the world wide web?
What do the smallest connections mean?
Are we aware if it is changing us?
And also, how great is our internet?