Friday, February 7, 2014

Love and Mathematics -- Please be my Valentine!

Poet extraordinaire Maxine Kumin (1925-2014) died yesterday.  
Here is a link to a wonderful eleven of her poems from Persimmon Tree

Late in 2007, AKPeters released Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics, edited by Sarah Glaz and me.  Recently at a Howard County Math Festival I met a young man who browsed my copy of this anthology and found it the perfect Valentine.  And so might you.  Below I include a sample from the collection -- a love sonnet by Jean de Sponde (1557-1595), translated from the French by David Slavitt.

 Several previous postings have offered love poems of mathematics and mathematicians; 

     Sonnet of Love   XIII      by Jean de Sponde

     "Give me a place to stand," Archimedes said,
     "and I can move the world." Paradoxical, clever,
     his remark which first explained the use of the lever
     was an academic joke. But if that dead

     sage could return to life, he would find a clear
     demonstration of his idea, which is not
     pure theory after all. That putative spot
     exists in the love I feel for you, my dear.

     What could be more immovable or stronger?
     What becomes more and more secure, the longer
     it is battered by inconstancy and the stress

     we find in our lives? Here is that fine fixed point
     from which to move a world that is out of joint,
     as he could have done, had he known a love like this.

From Sonnets of Love and Death by Jean de Sponde, translated by David R. Slavitt (Northwestern University Press, 2001).

No comments:

Post a Comment