Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Rhyming wordplay -- with math terms . . .

     Nineteenth century British poet Arthur Clement Hilton (1851-1877) died young but during his short life he wrote some lively verse.  Here is "Mathematics" -- from his collection The First Green, found here (p.134).

     Mathematics     by Arthur Clement Hilton

     I've really had enough of sums,
        I've done so very many,
     That now instead of doing sum
        I'd rather not do any.

     I've toiled until my fingers are
        With writing out of joint;
     And even now of Decimals
        I cannot see the point.  

     Subtraction to my weary mind
        Brings nothing but distraction,
     And vulgar and improper I
        consider every fraction.

     "Practice makes perfect," so they say.
        It may be true.  The fact is
     That I unhappily am not
        Yet perfect in my Practice.

     Discount is counted troublesome
        By my unlearned pate;
     For cubic root I entertain
        A strongly rooted hate.

     The heathen worship stocks and stones;
        My pious soul it shocks
     To be instructed thus to take
        An Interest in Stocks.

     Of Algebra I fear I have
        A very vague impression;
     I study hard but fail to make
        Harmonical Progression.

     In Euclid too I always climb
        The Asses' Bridge with pain;
     A superficies to me
        Is anything but plane.

     "Apply yourself," my master said,
        When I my woes confided,
     "And, when you multiply, bestow
        Attention undivided."

     Oh, if one master tries so hard
        Tyrannical to be,
     How out of all Proportion I
        Should find a Rule of Three.
Cambridge, November, 1969.

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