Monday, February 9, 2015

Surreal parabola, Mobius strip

     When a math term appears in a poem, will its usage make sense to a mathematician? Some mathematical folks are critical of poetic use of math words because precision may be lost to "poetic license." Others feel a pleasing tension between the mathness of a term and the stretched or layered meanings suggested by the poem. With these thoughts in mind, consider these two mathematically-titled poems "Mobius Strip" and "Parabola" by Robert Desnos (France, 1900-1945), translated by Amy Levin and selected from "A sampling of French surrealist poetry."

     Mobius Strip     by Robert Desnos (trans. Amy Levin)

     The track I'm running on
     Won't be the same when I turn back
     It's useless to follow it straight
     I'll return to another place

     I circle around but the sky changes
     Yesterday I was a child
     I'm a man now
     The world's a strange thing
     And the rose among the roses
     Doesn't resemble another rose.

          Parabola (2)     by Robert Desnos (trans. Amy Levin)

          Parabola my nurse...
          A parabola was bored in its cage
          A parabola wanted to land on the branch
          The branch is too low
          The sun too high
          I watch the flight of birds
          They fall then climb again
          The branch is too low
          The sun too high
          These are some strange birds
          Their nest is somewhere
          Quite far from the earth
          The branch is too low
          The sun too high

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