This sonnet retells a familiar story -- a teacher influences a student's choice of studies. Prior to reading, many in mathematics may wonder: how can a student leave mathematics for poetry when mathematics is poetry? Whatever your view, I think you will enjoy this poem.
Prof of Profs by Geoffrey Brock
For Allison Hogge, in memory of Brian Wilkie
I was a math major—fond of all things rational.
It was the first day of my first poetry class.
The prof, with the air of a priest at Latin mass,
told us that we could “make great poetry personal,”
could own it, since poetry we memorize sings
inside us always. By way of illustration
he began reciting Shelley with real passion,
but stopped at “Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”—
because, with that last plosive, his top denture
popped from his mouth and bounced off an empty chair.
He blinked, then offered, as postscript to his lecture,
a promise so splendid it made me give up math:
“More thingth like that will happen in thith clath.”
Brock's poem was first published in Poetry (July/August 2008); I found it at the Poetry Foundation website.