Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A sonnet for W.R.Hamilton

      Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton (1805-1865) was also a poet (see, for example, this sonnet in a prior posting (13 October 2011).  Irish poet and physicist Iggy McGovern has written A Mystic Dream of 4:  A sonnet sequence based on the life of William Rowan Hamilton (Quaternia Press, 2013). 
The collection is prefaced by this quote from Hamilton:
"The quaternion [was] born, 
as a curious offspring of a quaternion of parents, 
say of geometry, algebra, metaphysics, and poetry."

Here is McGovern's opening sonnet.

GEOMETRY     by Iggy McGovern

Once, any pupil could define me best:
"points, lines, angles and figures", could amuse
The table with the Christmas cracker jest
About 'the squaw' on the hypotenuse! 

I was the Lord of Space, the one in three
Dimensions where you lived each mortal day,
Coordinates describing pointedly
A final resting place in graveyard clay.

But that's to come; for now reserve your pity
Observe the longitude and latitude
Of Dominick Street, the kingdom's second city,
A multigravida in plenitude

And my coy mistress, Time, deploys her power
To act precisely on the midnight hour.

Poet's note: Hamilton was reputedly born at midnight, a popular token of greatness.  It has been suggested that, had he lived longer, he would have anticipated Einstein's concept of space-time. 
      This link leads to an article about the scientific and literary works of Hamilton:  Here is a link to his poems.

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