Monday, May 21, 2018

Playing with time

        Here is a poem that plays with the geometry of time -- a poem that first appeared in Mathematics Magazine, Vol 68, No 6 (December 1995), page 288.   Several of my other mathy poems written around that same time were collected in a booklet, My Dance is Mathematics, now out of print but available here on my website.  

       Finding Time     by JoAnne Growney

       Points chase points
       around the circle,
       fighting time.
       You know time's a circle,
       rather than a line.          

       Make a line a circle!
       Pick a center.
       Wrap and wrap and wrap
       the line around the rim.
       How do the ends
       get tucked in?

       Cut a circle open,
       stretch into a line.
       Does the cut destroy
       a point or fit
       between a pair?
       If the cut's midway

       from now to Tuesday,
       how do I get there?
       Do I move on
       by going back,
       or may I
       skip a space?

       A square is neither line
       nor circle;  it is timeless.
       Points don't chase around
       a square.  Firm, steady,
       it sits there and knows
       its place.  A circle
       won't be squared.

My attention was drawn to this years-ago poem when I browsed a recently-purchased copy of Mathematically Speaking:  A Dictionary of Quotations (IOP Publishing, 1998) by Gaither and Gaither -- and found on Page 327 the final stanza of the poem above but without my name (see snapshot below).  At first I was angry, thinking of the stanza as stolen; but perhaps a simple error was made -- a carelessness that makes me feel sad.  And a good time to remind myself here, in this blog, to be careful with the work of others!
JoAnne's stanza ... 

No comments:

Post a Comment