Andrew McCallum

the inspiration behind Andrew McCallum’s poem, ‘Scheewittchen’

 

This poem was inspired by three things: Turing’s persecution as a homosexual; his fascination with the Snow White story; and his belief in reincarnation.

 

The Snow White story provides the narrative structure for the poem: Turing’s persecution is likened to the demand of the jealous stepmother for the heart and liver of Snow White, both as proof of her demise and to feed her stepmother’s cannibalistic desire to make Snow White’s beauty her own; Turing’s death by poison, which was administered through its injection into an apple, is a direct re-enactment of the poisoning of Snow White by her stepmother; and our grief at Turing’s untimely death (and his appalling treatment generally by a morally repressive society) is expressed in the dwarves’ hope that (as actually comes to pass in the original folk tale) a stumble might dislodge the fragment of poisoned apple caught in Snow White’s throat and bring her back to life.

 

The ‘moral’ of the poem is that the dwarves’/our hope is not entirely in vain: Turing does live on in his world-changing legacy (the digital age) and in the hearts of those who remember and revere him; and Turing himself believed in a form of life after death. The poem expresses this ‘moral’ through its incorporation of some lines from Turing’s own epitaph and from a letter he wrote following the death of his friend, Christopher Morcom.

 

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