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
       we must add the word

       Returning to the problem
       about the stone
       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!

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