Thursday, December 26, 2013

The angel of numbers . . .

This poem by Hanns Cibulka (1920 - 2004) -- translated from the German by Ewald Osers -- is collected in the anthology, Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics, edited by Sarah Glaz and me (A K Peters, 2008).

     Mathematics      by Hanns Cibulka     (trans. Ewald Osers)

                  And the angel of numbers
                  is flying
                  from 1 to 2...
                      Rafael Alberti

     The numbers
     on our childhood slates
     form ranks
     when the angel with the integral
     enters the room

     He comes with e to the power -x       
     with the π-th root of n  
     his tunic
     is covered
     with the snow of infinity

     Angel of intuition
     with your letters
     we illumine
     n-dimensional spaces
     in the universe

     the Euclidean tranquility
     of the world

A complete table of Contents for the anthology, Strange Attractors, may be found here.


  1. I keep reading and re-reading this: He comes with
    his tunic

    Is the second "with" correct?

    1. Thanks for your careful reading and comment. Indeed, both uses of the word "with" are correct -- but I have left out some mathematical symbols . .. I will make a correction soon!

    2. One more thing to add: in the original poem, the phrases
      e to the power -x
      the π-th root of n
      are given as formulas with an exponent and a radical sign but my blog did not want to let me use that notation today.