A recent email from Colm Mulcahy -- who seeks out all things Irish -- alerted me to Dublin poet and math-text author, George Darley (1795-1846), and an online archived collection of his poems. Colm's email had opened the collection to pages 70-71 and there I found -- and had fun reading -- this poem that plays with math.
A Poetical Problem. by George Darley
Once on a time, at evening hour,
A sweet, and dewy-bosom'd Flower
Was cradling up to rest ;
A Pilgrim, wandering near her bed,
Raised, with his staff, her drooping head,
And thus the Flower addrest :
"From matin-rise to moonlight hour,
Tell me, my pearly-crested Flower,
How many a lucid gem
Hath left the high, cavernal air,
To form upon thy queenly hair
A rainbow diadem?"
The pouting Flower looked up, and cried,
"Hadst thou no worthier cause beside
For rousing me from slumber?
Half half the square, less half the truth,
Twice halved, less half three score in sooth,
Is half, half, half the number."
Answer to the above.
Should a Pilgrim e'er meet on the wearisome plain
Such a pert mathematical Flower again,
And receive the same answer, I'll give him a rule
Will prevent him at least from appearing a fool :
If he muster an eye on each side of his nose,
And the vulgar provision of fingers and toes,
Let him add all of these ; and if these will not do,
Should he have but two teeth, let him add these teeth too !