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Writing poetry like mathematics

In an article about the Chilean mathematician and poet Nicanor Parra, Paul M Pearson says, : "Parra almost wrote poetry like he would a mathematical theorem using an extreme 'economy of language' with 'no metaphors, no literary figures.' " Today I present work by Nicanor Parra and Richard Aston, both of whom write their poetry with the same economy and care that are used when writing mathematics.
Here, from the webpage of Nicanor Parra, is "Thoughts."
** Thoughts ** by Nicanor Parra

What
Pascal asked himself
is man:

A number raised to the zero power.
Nothing
compared to the whole
The whole
compared to nothing:
Birth plus death:
Noise multiplied by silence:
The arithmetical mean between all and nothing.
This English translation is by Miller Williams; Parra's webpage has a link to the original Spanish version. "Thoughts" is collected in *Antipoems: New and Selected* (ed.David Unger, New Directions, 1985).
Richard Aston--author of "The Sisyphus Machine," which follows--is a poet from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsyvania, whose first career was as a civil engineer, specializing in the biomedical field. Aston has written an important textbook (on medical imaging equipment theory) and numerous technical articles; his scientific precision and clarity are apparent in his poetry also. Here is a link to an WVIA interview with Aston concerning an art-poetry project.
** The Sisyphus Machine **by Richard Aston
Tie two sticks to
either end of
a string and drive
one into a
stretch of smooth sand.
Walk with the string
taut tracing a
perfect circle.
Carve a stick make
a cylinder.
Roll it over
grain to yield meal.
(She wrought the wheel.
A wedge she used
to cultivate,
an inclined plane
to separate.)
Now roll the wheel
up the plane — fail
like Sisyphus.
Absorb the ha
ha ha ha ha
and try again.
Though never done,
others may sense
your self become.
I think in Bengali literature initially mathematical concepts were very much associated with poetry. Rather it is better to say no one could separate mathematical concepts from bengali poetry. I have written article on this concepts.

ReplyDeleteProfessor N.C. Ghosh

I think there is a great book out there that everyone who approaches the philosophical ideas in math should read. After reading, "Where Mathematics Comes from" By George Lakoff and Rafael Nunez, I am convinced that all mathematics is based at the axiomatic level in metaphor. So for someone to say they write poetry like math with no metaphor makes no sense to me.

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