Euclid alone has looked on beauty bare
--Edna St. Vincent Millay
Euclid alone began to formulate
the relation of circle, plane and sphere
in equations making it quite clear
that symmetry is what we celebrate.
He left the jagged convoluted form
of rambling river, wind turbulence, rain,
the whorl of tree, skin and terrain.
He ignored clouds, coastline, storms
to map the triangle, cone and square.
Euclid measured order and left the knot
of chaos to be unraveled by Mandelbrot
who found truth in the blood and air.
Euclid looked on beauty stark and bare,
Mandelbrot appraised her everywhere.
This poem was first published in 1989 in The American Scholar (vol 58, no 3). A wonderful friend, Toni Carroll (1942-2012), found it and mailed it to me. Recently, going through old papers, I have re-found it. And poet Diana Der-Hovanessian has given her permission for me to present it to you here.