**Miroslav Holub (1923-1998), Czech poet and immunologist who excelled in both endeavors, is one of my favorite poets. He combines scientific exactitude with empathy and absurdity. Here are samples:**

**The Corporal Who Killed Archimedes**

With one bold stroke

he killed the circle, tangent

and point of intersection

in infinity.

of quartering

he banned numbers

from three up.

Now in Syracuse

he leads a school of philosophers

for another thousand years

squats on his halberd

and writes:

one two

one two

one two

one two

This translation, by Stuart Friebert and Dana Hábová is from

*Sagittal Section*(Field Translation Series 3, Oberlin College Press, 1980).

Here is Holub's poem "

**Zito the Magician**."
to amuse the king Zito changes water into

wine frogs into footmen beetles

into baliffs he makes a Prime Minister

our of a rat he bows: daisies

grow from his fingertips

a talking bird perches on his shoulder

so there

think up something else demands the king

think up a black star Zito thinks up a black star

think up dry water Zito things up dry water

think up a lake in a wicker basket Zito does

so there

up comes a student: think up an angle alpha

whose sine is bigger than one

Zito pales: I'm sorry

the sine of any angle is between minus one

and plus one he stutters

nothing can be done

about it

he leaves the royal chambers shuffling

through the throng of

courtiers back to his home

in a nutshell

"Zito the Magician" was translated by Jet Wimp (aka Jet Foncannon) and appeared in

*Against Infinity: An Anthology of Contemporary Mathematical Poetry*(Primary Press, 1979).

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