## Wednesday, August 28, 2019

### The personal becomes mathematical -- in poetry

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861) used counting in her description of love in her sonnet that begins "How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways."  Contemporary artist, poet, and retired math professor Sandra DeLosier Coleman finds relationships a bit more complicated -- and builds her description in the poem below on the square root of two.

Between You and the Root of Two     by Sandra DeLozier Coleman

I have less chance of knowing you
than of writing out the root of two.
How e're I start, it never ends,
exploring how love lies, pretends.

At least, as this square root unfolds,
the mind accepts what it is told.
The root of two is less than two,
but more than one, its clearly true.
And it is easy to derive
that it is less than one point five.
It's just as easy, what is more,
to see it's more than one point four.
Just form the squares of these two stems!
Two lies between the two of them.
Thus, we may show it's greater than
a one point four one four two one
and that it's surely lesser, too,
than one point four one four two two.

But with such fine precision gained,
I find my interest has waned,
and back I go to figure out