Thursday, October 21, 2010

I miss you, Martin Gardner

Martin Gardner (1914-2010), featured also in my June 6 posting, would have been 96 years old today--October 21, 2010.  All over the world lovers of mathematical puzzles have taken time today to celebrate Gardner's puzzling--and the ways it stimulated their own.  Although Gardner disclaimed poetic gifts, he popularized puzzle poems written by others -- and he introduced the poetry strategies of the OULIPO (see March 25August 5, and August 23 postings) to American readers.  Here is a puzzle poem, by an unknown author, included in Gardner's Puzzles from Other Worlds (Vintage, 1984) and in Strange Attractors (A K Peters, 2008). 


     I am obliged to plant a grove,
     To please the pretty girl I love.
     This curious grove I must compose
     Of nineteen trees in nine straight rows;
     And in each row, five trees must place,
     Or I may never see her face.
     Now, readers brave, I'm in no jest.
     Pray lend your aid and do your best.

1 comment:

  1. After solving the math problem within the poem it occurred to me that the solution is very elegant, very clean and orderly. The poem on the other hand is rather clunky. The fact that the guy is planting the trees for his girlfriend makes it cute and the final formation is worthy of a gift to ones girlfriend but the poem is still clunky.

    Is there another math puzzle out there hidden in an ELEGENT POEM ?

    David Perrings