Wednesday, September 23, 2020

If a Garden of Numbers . . .

      In a summer email from math-poet-editor Carol Dorf,  I first enjoyed "If a Garden of Numbers" -- a mingling of numbers with the natural world -- by California poet Cole Swensen.  I offer its opening lines below followed by a link to the complete poem.

If a Garden of Numbers      by Cole Swenson 

If a garden is the world counted
                                                      and found analogue in nature
One does not become two by ever ending
                                                                    so the stairs must be uneven in number

and not exceed
thirteen without a pause
of two paces’ width, which
                                                 for instance, the golden section
                            mitigates between abandon
and an orchestra just behind those trees,
gradations of green that take a stethoscope: we risk:
Length over width
                                  to make the horizon run straight
            to make the pond an oval:
                                                            over length minus the width
                              in which descending circles curl
into animals exact as a remainder.
 . . .

Cole Swenson's “In a Garden of Numbers” is from her collection Ours (University of California Press, 2008).  Here is a link to the PoetryFoundation website which offers the complete poem.

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