We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

from

*The Witness Tree.*

In this Robert Frost couplet, “The Secret Sits,” the poet may not have intended to speak of mathematics but his lines sing true for mathematical discovery.

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

from*The Witness Tree.*

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

from

Labels:
mathematical,
mathematics,
poetry,
Robert Frost,
secret

Counter-intuitive notions are among my favorite parts of mathematics and, in considerations of infinity, these are numerous. Recalling Zeno's paradox, we capture the infinite finitely in this summation:

1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/2^{3} + . . . + 1/2^{n} + . . . = 1

1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/2

Labels:
Frank Dux,
infinities,
infinity,
Lillian R Lieber,
Lucille Lang Day,
mathematician,
mathematics,
poetry,
series,
sum,
Zeno

Nonsense verse has a prominent place in the poetry that mathematicians enjoy. Perhaps this is so because mathematical discovery itself has a playful aspect--playing, as it were, with non-sense in an effort to tease the sense out of it. Lewis Carroll, author of both mathematics and literature, often has his characters offer speeches that are a clever mix of sense and nonsense. For example, we have these two stanzas from "Fit the Fifth" of *The Hunting of the Snark*, the words of the Butcher, explaining to the Beaver why 2 + 1 = 3.

Labels:
algebra,
decimal,
E P Dempster,
elliptical,
Langford Reed,
Lewis Carroll,
mathematics,
nonsense verse,
parabola,
parallel,
play,
poetry,
square root

More familiar than the name Benoit Mandelbrot are images, like the one to the left, of the fractal that bears his name. Born in Poland (1924) and educated in France, Mandelbrot moved to the US in 1958 to join the research staff at IBM. A fractal is a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is a reduced-size copy of the whole, a property called self-similarity.

Mathematics is a visual language. As with poetry, placement on the page is a key ingredient of meaning. Here is one of my favorite visual poems, The Transcendence of Euler's Formula, by Neil Hennessey, a Canadian poet and computer scientist. For additional math-poetry from Neil, follow the link.

**e**pitome

e**pi**tome

ep**i**tome

epi**+**ome

ep**I**tome

_____________

epit**0**me

e

ep

epi

ep

_____________

epit

Labels:
circle,
concrete poetry,
e,
epitome,
Euler,
Euler's formula,
Euler's identity,
mathematics,
Neil Hennessey,
pi

Margaret Cavendish (1623-73) was a writer who published under her own name at a time when most women published anonymously. Her writing addressed a number of topics, including gender equity and scientific method.

Labels:
arithmetic,
atom,
circle,
cube,
Euclid,
figure,
Margaret Cavendish,
mathematics,
number,
passion,
poetry,
point,
quantity,
quotient,
squaring the circle,
subtract,
triangle

Piet Hein (Denmark, 1905-1996) was many-faceted--by times a philosopher, mathematician, designer, scientist, inventor of games and poet. He also created a new poetic form that he called 'grook' ("gruk" in Danish). Hein wrote over 10,000 grooks, most in Danish or English, published in more than 60 books. Some say that the name is short for 'GRin & sUK' ("laugh & sigh", in Danish). Here are samples, with links to more:

In my own library this next poem is found (untitled) in *Collected Sonnets* by Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1950), but it also is found online at various sites. The first line of the sonnet, which announces Euclid as its subject, is well-known to most mathematicians; enjoy here all fourteeen lines.

Labels:
beauty,
David St John,
Edna St. Vincent Millay,
equation,
Euclid,
mathematics,
number,
poetry

Subscribe to:
Posts (Atom)

articles, and collaborations,

visit http://joannegrowney.com/**. **

**This link **leads to to a file of suggested search topics.

Follow on Twitter: Follow @MathyPoems

Share a link: Tweet

**Blog content ****is licensed under a ****Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.** Use material found here for non-commercial purposes, and attribute -- give JoAnne Growney's name, the title of blog, and the URL of the posting from which content is taken, as well as full and proper credit to others whose work you use.

visit http://joannegrowney.com/

Follow on Twitter: Follow @MathyPoems

Share a link: Tweet

abecedarian poem
(4)
abstract
(4)
abstract algebra
(3)
accuracy
(4)
Ada Lovelace
(3)
addition
(4)
Adrienne Rich
(4)
aesthetic distance
(1)
Against Infinity
(6)
algebra
(25)
Algebra II
(1)
algebras
(1)
Alice Major
(6)
angle
(17)
angler
(1)
angles
(2)
angling
(1)
angular
(2)
Annalisa Crannell
(4)
anthology
(5)
applied mathematics
(6)
Aram Saroyan
(3)
arithmetic
(17)
arithmetic mean
(2)
art
(10)
artificial intelligence
(2)
Audre Lorde
(4)
average
(3)
axiom
(6)
balance
(5)
balanced
(1)
baseball
(3)
Basho
(2)
bell curve
(3)
Benoit Mandelbrot
(5)
birthday paradox
(1)
Black History Month
(7)
Bob Grumman
(4)
Brian McCabe
(5)
Bucharest Tales
(2)
butterfly
(1)
butterfly effect
(2)
calculation
(12)
calculations
(1)
calculator
(1)
calculus
(21)
Carl Sandburg
(5)
Catalan
(2)
Catalan numbers
(1)
center
(6)
Cento
(5)
centroid
(2)
certain
(2)
certainty
(2)
Charles Simic
(4)
Christmas
(9)
circle
(44)
circles
(2)
circling
(1)
circular
(2)
circumference
(11)
climate
(5)
climate change
(7)
Climate March
(1)
clock
(3)
coastline
(1)
complex
(5)
complex number
(2)
complexity
(3)
computer
(5)
computing
(2)
conditional
(3)
constrained poetry
(3)
constraint
(6)
cosine
(3)
count
(34)
countable
(1)
counting
(51)
counting rhyme
(2)
counting women
(1)
cube
(11)
dance
(6)
decimal
(8)
decimal place
(3)
degrees
(4)
derivative
(5)
digit
(3)
digital
(1)
digits
(7)
dimension
(7)
discover
(4)
discovery
(4)
discrimination
(4)
distance
(7)
divide
(9)
divided
(4)
divisible
(1)
division
(4)
Doru Radu
(7)
e
(4)
Earth day
(4)
Eileen Pollack
(1)
ellipse
(2)
elliptical
(3)
Emily Grosholz
(7)
Emmy Noether
(8)
Enriqueta Carrington
(2)
equal
(9)
equality
(2)
equation
(31)
error
(5)
Euler
(2)
Euler's formula
(2)
Euler's identity
(1)
Eveline Pye
(6)
F J Craveiro de Carvalho
(5)
factor
(5)
factoring
(5)
FIB
(8)
Fibonacci
(11)
Fibonacci numbers
(3)
figure
(4)
figures
(1)
finite
(9)
formula
(4)
found
(1)
found poem
(9)
fractal
(10)
fraction
(7)
fraction line
(2)
fractions
(2)
Francisco JosÃ© Craveiro de Carvalho
(4)
free verse
(3)
G H Hardy
(4)
Gabriel Prajitura
(3)
game theory
(3)
Garrett Hardin
(4)
geometer
(3)
geometric
(5)
Geometries
(2)
geometry
(53)
Georg Cantor
(3)
George Bacovia
(3)
girl
(4)
girls
(8)
Gizem Karaali
(13)
Grace Brewster Murray Hopper
(1)
Grace Hopper
(1)
Grace Murray Hopper
(1)
grandchildren
(2)
granddaughters
(1)
Grandma
(4)
gravity
(5)
groundhog
(4)
Guillevic
(6)
half
(3)
half-way
(1)
hexagon
(5)
hexagons
(1)
Howard Nemerov
(8)
Humanistic Mathematics
(3)
Hypatia
(4)
hyperbolic
(3)
hypertext
(2)
hypotenuse
(8)
identity
(8)
imaginary
(6)
infinite
(41)
infinities
(4)
infinition
(1)
infinitude
(2)
infinity
(27)
integer
(6)
integers
(2)
Integral
(6)
intersection
(4)
irrational
(13)
Isaac Newton
(6)
Jane Hirshfield
(4)
Jill Pipher
(2)
Joan Mazza
(5)
Jorge Luis Borges
(6)
Journal of Humanistic Mathematics
(17)
Julia Spicher Kasdorf
(3)
June Jordan
(5)
Karl Weierstrass
(3)
Kaz Maslanka
(5)
Kovalevskaia
(1)
Kovalevskaya
(2)
Kyi May Kaung
(3)
Kyoko Mori
(2)
Lana Turner
(1)
Langston Hughes
(3)
Larry Lesser
(2)
Lawrence Mark Lesser
(3)
length
(4)
Leonhard Euler
(3)
Lewis Carroll
(10)
Lillian R Lieber
(2)
limerick
(15)
limit
(8)
limits
(3)
Linda Pastan
(3)
line
(28)
line segment
(1)
linear
(1)
lines
(6)
logarithm
(2)
logarithmic spiral
(2)
Lord Byron
(4)
Lucille Lang Day
(3)
Madhur Anand
(3)
magician
(3)
Marianne Moore
(5)
Marion Cohen
(7)
Marion Deutsche Cohen
(2)
Martin Gardner
(9)
Math Awareness Month
(4)
math-girls
(1)
math-women
(7)
Mathematical Intelligencer
(5)
mathematical poem
(6)
matSHEmatics
(1)
measure
(13)
measurement
(1)
measuring
(3)
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
(2)
Mike Keith
(3)
Millie Niss
(2)
mnemonic
(4)
Mobius band
(3)
Mobius strip
(4)
multiplication
(4)
multiply
(4)
N+7
(2)
NASA
(5)
natural number
(7)
negative
(6)
Nichita Stanescu
(10)
Nick Montfort
(4)
Nina Cassian
(5)
nothing
(10)
number
(47)
number line
(3)
number theory
(6)
numbers
(50)
Numbers and Faces
(1)
numeral
(2)
numerals
(2)
numerical poem
(2)
numerology
(2)
obtuse
(3)
odd
(8)
odds
(2)
opposite
(8)
order
(4)
Oulipo
(18)
Pablo Neruda
(4)
palindrome
(7)
pantoum
(5)
parabola
(5)
parallel
(16)
parallels
(4)
pattern
(8)
Pennsylvania
(5)
perfect
(4)
perfect square
(1)
permutation
(18)
permutation-generator
(3)
perpendicular
(5)
plus
(4)
POETRY App
(2)
Poetry Foundation
(8)
POETRY Magazine
(3)
prime
(22)
prisoner's dilemma
(3)
probability
(7)
problem
(10)
problems
(2)
professor
(4)
proof
(15)
proposition
(4)
prose poem
(6)
puzzle
(9)
Pythagoras
(5)
Pythagorean
(2)
Pythagorean Theorem
(3)
Rachel Levy
(4)
Randall Munroe
(4)
random
(7)
rational
(6)
real number
(5)
recurrence
(2)
recursion
(5)
recursive
(4)
Rita Dove
(3)
Robert Dawson
(4)
Robin Chapman
(4)
Sandra DeLozier Coleman
(3)
Sarah Browning
(3)
Sarah Glaz
(28)
science
(10)
Scottish Cafe
(3)
septina
(1)
sestina
(9)
Sherman Alexie
(4)
Sherman Stein
(4)
Sophia Kovalevsky
(4)
Sophie Germain
(2)
sphere
(7)
square
(60)
square poem
(13)
square stanza
(5)
squaring the circle
(4)
statistics
(15)
STEM
(7)
Stephanie Strickland
(11)
Sue VanHattum
(5)
sum
(14)
symmetries
(2)
teach
(2)
teacher
(7)
theorem
(15)
Tragedy of the Commons
(3)
Wislawa Szymborska
(10)
woman
(19)
women
(19)
xkcd.com
(3)
zero
(29)