“All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace” – Richard Brautigan (1967)

1960s: Days of Rage

‘All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace’ is a poem by Richard Brautigan first published in his 1967 collection of the same name, his fifth book of poetry. It presents an enthusiastic description of a technological utopia in which machines improve and protect the lives of humans. The poem has counterculture and hippie themes, influenced by Cold War-era technology. It has been interpreted both as utopian and as an ironic critique of the utopia it describes. It is Brautigan’s most frequently reprinted poem. Brautigan wrote the poem and eponymous collection between January 17–26, 1967, while a poet-in-residence at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, California. The poem is 99 words in 3 stanzas, and describes a technological utopia in which humans and technology work together for the greater good. Brautigan writes about ‘mammals and computers liv[ing] together in mutually programming harmony’, with…

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