Monday, January 16, 2023

A Lecture on the Cube

     Summer weeks spent teaching English to Romanian students have helped me to learn of several of the country's fine poets and to get involved in a bit of translating.  Romanian mathematics professor, Gabriel Prajitura (now at SUNY Brockport) -- whom I first met at Pennsylvania's Bucknell University when I was teaching nearby at Bloomsburg University -- worked with me to translate several mathy poems by Nichita Stanescu (1933-1983).  The Summer/Autumn 2004 issue of Circumference:  Poetry in Translation included "A lecture on the cube" and "A lecture on the circle."  My blog posting on April 18, 2014 -- available at this link -- shares "A lecture on the circle" -- and I offer the other below:

     A lecture on the cube     by Nichita Stanescu

        You take a piece of stone,
        chisel it with blood,
        grind it with Homer’s eye,
        burnish it with beams
        until the cube comes out perfect.       

        Next you endlessly kiss the cube   
        with your mouth, with others’ mouths,
        and, most important, with infanta’s mouth.              .
        Then you take a hammer                           
        and suddenly knock a corner off.           

        All, indeed absolutely all will say                             
       what a perfect cube this would have been     
        if not for the broken corner.

 Here is a link to my favorite Stanescu mathy poem, "Another Mathematics".

This link leads to a variety of postings in this blog that offer mathy poetry from Romania.

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