Sunday, January 29, 2012


One of my favorite phrases (loved for the sound of it) first came to my ears during my college studies of  abstract algebra: "multiplication is denoted by juxtaposition"  -- and,  within the phrase, I best like to say "juxtaposition." I enjoy its movement in my mouth, its sibilance in my ears. And so, of course, I set out to find a poem using the word. Having failed over many years to find the word in someone else's poem, I have written my own:

   Multiplication     by JoAnne Growney

   Multiplication is the process
   of taking one number as many times
   as there are ones in another.

   Juxtaposition is the notation –-
   as in  3x  or  yz  --
   to denote multiplication.

   Multiplication is a taking
   of one with ones.
   Multiplication takes times.

   When does one desire
to do multiplication?  Why
   might a product offend?

   How many times can one take
   without greed? How many
   juxtapositions to reach the end?

   This poem began while I was browsing Geo. W. Hull's Complete Arithmetic (Butler, Sheldon, & Co, 1895) – on my shelf and also available at Google Books.  I paused on page 33 at the definition of Multiplication – and the poem began.

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