Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Found: Elementary Calculus

Here is a poem by Saskatchewan poet Karen Solie.

Found     by Karen Solie

Elementary Calculus

From    Elementary Calculus  A. Keith and W. J. Donaldson.
Glasgow:  Gibson, 1960.

Speed (like distance)
is a magnitude and has no
direction; velocity (like displacement)

has magnitude and direction.
Thus we may say
that after 4 seconds

the stone is travelling at a speed
of 32 feet per second,
but if we wish to remove all doubts

as to the direction of motion
downwards.

Returning to the problem
we have sometimes written

32 ft. per (sec.)². The reader
should think out for himself
why the phrase per second

occurs twice.  The quantity
in question sounds more meaningful
if read:  32 feet per second

-- pause --

per second.

Thanks to Tim Love for alerting me to this poem. I now have it in a recently purchased copy of Solie’s collection The Living Option:  Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2013).  And there's more; on the page following "Found" we find "Cipher Stroke" which begins thus:

India opened zero and gods crawled out.

Several other poems in the collection continue the trend.  This poet likes to speak of mathematics!