|Published in 1979 by PRIMARY PRESS, out of print -- try your library!|
Before purchasing this anthology (found at a math conference) I had never seen a collection of mathy poems -- but then, many years later, I helped to edit one (Strange Attractors: Poems of Love and Mathematics). Today I offer an old favorite from Against Infinity -- the poem "A Visit to Mathland" by Naomi Replansky (born May 23, 1918):
A Visit to Mathland by Naomi Replansky (for M., Z., and L., citizens thereof)
I was a timid tourist
to the land of mathematics:
how do you behave in a country
where Reason rules?
Under the stern government
where the symbols mean
just what you are told they mean,
I found a land of play.
I rode the roller-coasters of curves
that forever approached the ground without touching,
or broke off joltingly,
or rocked me, harmonious.
I balanced myself astride
the perfect seesaws of equations.
A juggler taught me a few
of the infinite tricks you can play
with all the infinities, plus one.
Every number I met
in the great cities of the numbers
had its unique visage among the crowd,
its own sure place
in an ordered world.
I could stop and stare at it,
its hooded mystery, its majesty, its powers.
I could dismiss is or summon it at will.
And I could listen to the music of the spheres.
I could watch the solid emerge from the plane.
And elegant were the formal gardens of the proofs
that opened forever
upon new vistas.
I did not stay long.
That country too had its problems.
The pure air made me dizzy.
I learned only a few words of the language
(though I liked the natives).
And I was homesick for my homeland,
the Swamp of Ambiguity
that breeds its own fevers.
To learn more about Naomi Replansky, follow this link to visit her blog.
A few used copies of Against Infinity can be found for sale at bookfinder.com.
Here is a link to mentions of Against Infinity in this blog.