Saturday, December 4, 2010

Horizon line

Poet James Galvin often uses mathematical imagery in his poems.

   Art Class      by James Galvin
   Let us begin with a simple line,
   Drawn as a child would draw it,
   To indicate the horizon,  

   More real than the real horizon,
   Which is less than line,
   Which is visible abstraction, a ratio.

   The line ravishes the page with implications
   Of white earth, white sky!

   The horizon moves as we move,
   Making us feel central.
   But the horizon is an empty shell—

   Strange radius whose center is peripheral.
   As the horizon draws us on, withdrawing,
   The line draws us in,

   Requiring further lines,
   Engendering curves, verticals, diagonals,
   Urging shades, shapes, figures…

   What should we place, in all good faith,
   On the horizon? A stone?
   An empty chair? A submarine?

   Take your time. Take it easy.
   The horizon will not stop abstracting us.

"Art Class" is from Galvin's collection Resurrection Update (Copper Canyon Press, 1997).  Another splendid Galvin poem, "Geometry Is the Mind of God,"  is found in Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (AKPeters, 2008).

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