Recently poetry-fan and occasional versifier Greg Coxson, a Research Engineer in the Department Electrical and Computer Engineering at the US Naval Academy, sent me a link to an essay by mathematician and teacher David Eugene Smith (1869-1944) -- published in The Mathematics Teacher in 1926 and entitled THE POETRY OF MATHEMATICS. Greg has been, over the years of this blog, a valuable contributor of information about mathy poems and poets -- and some poetry of his own.
Early in the essay, Smith quotes Thoreau:
We have heard much about the poetry of mathematics, but very little of it has yet been sung. The ancients had a juster notion of their poetic value than we. The most distinct and beautiful statements of any truth must take at last the mathematical form.
Lots of quotes and viewpoints are offered in Smith's essay and, at the end he speaks of the role of teachers " . . . mathematics may become and does become poetry in the enthusiasm of an inspired and an inspiring teacher."
The Secret Sits by Robert Frost (1874-1963)
We dance round in a ring and suppose,
But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.