Sunday, May 4, 2014

A pure mathematician (not!)

Poet Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943) was known for his humorous verse. Here is "A Pure Mathematician" -- a poem that stereotypes mathematicians in familiar, unflattering ways (from The Laughing Muse (Harper Brothers, 1915)).  In contrast to Guiterman's verse that pokes fun at mathematicians, I invite you to visit this posting from 28 January 2011 to read Sherman Stein's "Mathematician" -- a poem that not only is more fair to the profession but also features a female mathematician.

     A Pure Mathematician     by Arthur Guiterman

     Let Poets chant of Clouds and Things 
          In lonely attics! 
     A Nobler Lot is his, who clings 
          To Mathematics. 
     Sublime he sits, no Worldly Strife 
          His Bosom vexes, 
     Reducing all the Doubts of Life 
          To Y's and X's. 

     And naught to him a Primrose on 
          The river's border; 
     A Parallelepipedon 
          Is more in order. 
     Let Zealots vow to do and dare 
          And right abuses!
     He 'd rather sit at home and square 
     Along his straight-ruled paths he goes 
          Contented with em, 
     The only Rhythm that he knows, 
          A Logarithm!

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