Monday, December 10, 2018

The Heart's Arithmetic

     For me, the Christmas holiday season is a time for family gathering and a treasured time for that reason.  Today my thoughts turn to one of my favorite poems of family and mathematics -- a poem by much-too-soon-departed poet Wilmer Mills (1969-2011),  a poem first published in Poetry and also also found here at the Poetry Foundation website

     An Equation for My Children  by Wilmer Mills

     It may be esoteric and perverse
     That I consult Pythagoras to hear
     A music tuning in the universe.
     My interest in his math of star and sphere
     Has triggered theorems too far-fetched to solve.  
     They don’t add up. But if I rack and toil
     More in ether than a mortal coil,
     It is to comprehend how you revolve,
     By formulas of orbit, ellipse, and ring.

     Dear son and daughter, if I seem to range
     It is to chart the numbers spiraling
     Between my life and yours until the strange
     And seamless beauty of equations click
     Solutions for the heart’s arithmetic.

Mills' sonnet above is just one of many wonderful math-linked poems collected by  Sarah Glaz and me in the anthology,  Strange Attractors:  Poems of Love and Mathematics (A K Peters/CRC Press, 2008).

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