Monday, November 29, 2021

Sometimes ONE is also TWO

     A long-time supporter of this blog and of math-poetry connections is Gregory Coxson, Research Engineer at the US Naval Academy-- and he has recently shared with me the following poem, a translation of work by German writer and scientist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832); publication and translation details may be found online here.  Coxson was drawn back to his memories of this math-linked poem with the arrival of November and at his campus the bright-yellow leaves of the ginkgo trees.

     Ginkgo Biloba      translation of work by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

       In my garden’s care and favour
       From the East this tree’s leaf shows
       Secret sense for us to savour
       And uplifts the one who knows.

       Is it but one being single
       Which as same itself divides?
       Are there two which choose to mingle
       So that each as one now hides?

       As the answer to such question
       I have found a sense that’s true:
       Is it not my song’s suggestion
       That I’m one and also two?

More about Goethe's poem can be found here at

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