Monday, May 25, 2020

Counting . . . and more counting . . .

     Poet and retired math teacher and poetry editor ( Carol Dorf has been staying connected during the covid-19 pandemic by sharing poems.  Many of her emailed shares are works I know, but the item below came as new -- a mathy poem by David Ignatow (1914-1997) from his collection Against the Evidence: Selected Poems 1934-1994. (Wesleyan University Press, 1993).  Consider, with Ignatow, what is finite?  what is countable?

Information     by David Ignatow  

This tree has two million and seventy-five thousand leaves. Perhaps I missed a leaf or two but I do feel triumphant at having persisted in counting by hand branch by branch and marked down on paper with pencil each total. Adding them up was a pleasure I could understand; I did something on my own that was not dependent on others, and to count leaves is not less meaningful than to count the stars, as astronomers are always doing. They want the facts to be sure they have them all. It would help them to know whether the world is finite. I discovered one tree that is finite. I must try counting the hairs on my head, and you too. We could swap information.

Thank you, Carol Dorf, for your ongoing efforts to celebrate both math and poetry! 

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