Here part of the poem "Rubaiyat" by Lawrence Joseph:

The holes burned in the night.
Holes you can look through and see
the stump of a leg, a bloody
bandage, flies on the gauze; a pulled-up

satellite image of a major
military target, a 3-D journey
into a landscape of hills and valleys . . .
All of it from real-world data.

How can the phrase "pulled-up" be understood here?

  • 2
    Hi and welcome to Literature Stack Exchange. Since "pull up" can be looked up in a dictionary, could you please clarify why you have difficulty understanding it in this context?
    – Tsundoku
    Jun 12, 2022 at 13:15
  • Well, "pull up" can certainly be looked up in dictionary, but a "pulled-up" image is an unusual usage; how can image be "pulled up"? Does the author mean "extracted"? or captured?
    – scrivener
    Jun 13, 2022 at 0:26

1 Answer 1


Pull up has various meanings, but here means "retrieve" (as from a computer system). This idiomatic sense is recent and perhaps IT jargon. I couldn't find it in many dictionaries but it's in YourDictionary.com: "(idiomatic) Retrieve; get." Example sentence: "Pull up that website for me, it looks quite interesting." Pulling up a website or an image are very similar: in either case it is coming from a computer server of some sort.

Specific to this poem, it seems to be describing an operator getting an image from some kind of database or image storage system as part of the process of selecting a target or assessing the result of a military strike. By using jargon, it is emphasising that the procedure is done on a computer, and the phrase emphasises that it's a trivial, quick operation like accessing a web page. It doesn't require any risk or danger, no travelling, no special mission (in the past if you wanted surveillance you might have to send a spy-plane or agent on the ground). It emphasises how warfare has become a matter of operating a computer from a desk.

  • Thanks a lot! Your answer makes much sense because the whole poem sounds IT jargon infested!
    – scrivener
    Jun 13, 2022 at 10:34

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