We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

from

*The Witness Tree.*

In this Robert Frost couplet, “The Secret Sits,” the poet may not have intended to speak of mathematics but his lines sing true for mathematical discovery.

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

from*The Witness Tree.*

We dance round in a ring and suppose,

But the Secret sits in the middle and knows.

from

Labels:
mathematical,
mathematics,
poetry,
Robert Frost,
secret

Counter-intuitive notions are among my favorite parts of mathematics and, in considerations of infinity, these are numerous. Recalling Zeno's paradox, we capture the infinite finitely in this summation:

1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/2^{3} + . . . + 1/2^{n} + . . . = 1

1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/2

Labels:
Frank Dux,
infinities,
infinity,
Lillian R Lieber,
Lucille Lang Day,
mathematician,
mathematics,
poetry,
series,
sum,
Zeno

Nonsense verse has a prominent place in the poetry that mathematicians enjoy. Perhaps this is so because mathematical discovery itself has a playful aspect--playing, as it were, with non-sense in an effort to tease the sense out of it. Lewis Carroll, author of both mathematics and literature, often has his characters offer speeches that are a clever mix of sense and nonsense. For example, we have these two stanzas from "Fit the Fifth" of *The Hunting of the Snark*, the words of the Butcher, explaining to the Beaver why 2 + 1 = 3.

Labels:
algebra,
decimal,
E P Dempster,
elliptical,
Langford Reed,
Lewis Carroll,
mathematics,
nonsense verse,
parabola,
parallel,
play,
poetry,
square root

More familiar than the name Benoit Mandelbrot are images, like the one to the left, of the fractal that bears his name. Born in Poland (1924) and educated in France, Mandelbrot moved to the US in 1958 to join the research staff at IBM. A fractal is a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is a reduced-size copy of the whole, a property called self-similarity.

Mathematics is a visual language. As with poetry, placement on the page is a key ingredient of meaning. Here is one of my favorite visual poems, The Transcendence of Euler's Formula, by Neil Hennessey, a Canadian poet and computer scientist. For additional math-poetry from Neil, follow the link.

**e**pitome

e**pi**tome

ep**i**tome

epi**+**ome

ep**I**tome

_____________

epit**0**me

e

ep

epi

ep

_____________

epit

Labels:
circle,
concrete poetry,
e,
epitome,
Euler,
Euler's formula,
Euler's identity,
mathematics,
Neil Hennessey,
pi

Margaret Cavendish (1623-73) was a writer who published under her own name at a time when most women published anonymously. Her writing addressed a number of topics, including gender equity and scientific method.

Labels:
arithmetic,
atom,
circle,
cube,
Euclid,
figure,
Margaret Cavendish,
mathematics,
number,
passion,
poetry,
point,
quantity,
quotient,
squaring the circle,
subtract,
triangle

Piet Hein (Denmark, 1905-1996) was many-faceted--by times a philosopher, mathematician, designer, scientist, inventor of games and poet. He also created a new poetic form that he called 'grook' ("gruk" in Danish). Hein wrote over 10,000 grooks, most in Danish or English, published in more than 60 books. Some say that the name is short for 'GRin & sUK' ("laugh & sigh", in Danish). Here are samples, with links to more:

In my own library this next poem is found (untitled) in *Collected Sonnets* by Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1950), but it also is found online at various sites. The first line of the sonnet, which announces Euclid as its subject, is well-known to most mathematicians; enjoy here all fourteeen lines.

Labels:
beauty,
David St John,
Edna St. Vincent Millay,
equation,
Euclid,
mathematics,
number,
poetry

Subscribe to:
Posts (Atom)

articles, and collaborations,

visit http://joannegrowney.com/**. **

**This link **leads to to a file of names of poets and math-people and blog-content topics.** **Or scroll down--for a list of labels/key words.

Follow on Twitter: Follow @MathyPoems

Share a link: Tweet

**Blog content ****is licensed under a ****Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.** Use material found here for non-commercial purposes, and attribute -- give JoAnne Growney's name, the title of blog, and the URL of the posting from which content is taken, as well as full and proper credit to others whose work you use.

visit http://joannegrowney.com/

Follow on Twitter: Follow @MathyPoems

Share a link: Tweet

A E Housman
(1)
Abba Kovner
(2)
abecedarian poem
(5)
abstract
(4)
abstract algebra
(3)
accuracy
(4)
Ada Lovelace
(4)
Adam Dickinson
(2)
Adam Zagajewski
(1)
addition
(4)
Adrienne Rich
(4)
aesthetic distance
(2)
Against Infinity
(6)
Alan Turing
(2)
Albert Einstein
(4)
Alexander Mehlmann
(1)
algebra
(25)
Algebra II
(1)
algebras
(1)
Alice Major
(7)
Alice Silverberg
(3)
Allison Hedge Coke
(1)
Amalie "Emmy" Noether
(1)
Amit Majmudar
(1)
Amy Uyematsu
(3)
angle
(17)
angular
(2)
Annalisa Crannell
(4)
Anne Waldman
(1)
Annie Finch
(2)
anthology
(7)
applied mathematics
(6)
Aram Saroyan
(3)
arithmetic
(17)
art
(10)
artificial intelligence
(2)
Athena Kildegaard
(1)
Audre Lorde
(5)
average
(3)
AWM
(7)
axiom
(6)
balance
(5)
Barbara Crooker
(2)
Bartholomew-Biggs
(1)
baseball
(3)
Basho
(2)
bell curve
(3)
Ben Doller
(1)
Ben Orlin
(1)
Benoit Mandelbrot
(5)
Bill Calhoun
(1)
Black History Month
(8)
Bob Dylan
(2)
Bob Grumman
(4)
Brenda Hillman
(2)
Brian McCabe
(6)
Bridges
(12)
Brion Gysin
(2)
Bucharest Tales
(2)
butterfly
(1)
butterfly effect
(2)
calculation
(12)
calculus
(22)
Caleb Emmons
(3)
Carl Sandburg
(6)
Carol Ann Heckman
(1)
Carol Dorf
(10)
Caroline Caddy
(2)
Caroline Herschel
(5)
Catalan
(2)
Cathy O'Neill
(2)
center
(6)
Cento
(8)
Chandler Davis
(1)
Charles Bernstein
(3)
Charles Lutwidge Dodson
(2)
Charles Simic
(5)
Christmas
(11)
circle
(47)
Clare Cavanagh
(2)
climate
(5)
climate change
(7)
Coleman Barks
(1)
Colette Inez
(2)
Collatz conjecture
(2)
Colm Mulcahy
(4)
complex
(5)
complex number
(2)
complexity
(3)
computer
(6)
computing
(2)
conditional
(3)
constrained poetry
(3)
constraint
(6)
cosine
(3)
count
(34)
counting
(51)
cube
(11)
Czeslaw Milosz
(2)
dance
(6)
Daniel May
(1)
David Pleacher
(1)
David Wagoner
(2)
Deanna Nikaido
(1)
decimal
(8)
decision
(3)
derivative
(5)
Diane Lockward
(1)
digit
(3)
dimension
(7)
discrimination
(4)
distance
(7)
divide
(9)
division
(4)
Doru Radu
(8)
Douglas Goetsch
(2)
Douglas Norton
(2)
Dunya Mikhail
(2)
E E Cummings
(2)
Earth day
(4)
Eavan Boland
(1)
Edgar Allan Poe
(1)
Edna St. Vincent Millay
(3)
Eileen Pollack
(1)
ellipse
(2)
elliptical
(3)
Emily Dickinson
(5)
Emily Grosholz
(7)
Emmy Noether
(11)
Enriqueta Carrington
(2)
equal
(10)
equation
(32)
error
(5)
Etheridge Knight
(2)
Euclid
(30)
Euler
(2)
Eveline Pye
(6)
Evelyn Lamb
(3)
F J Craveiro de Carvalho
(1)
factor
(5)
FIB
(8)
Fibonacci
(12)
figure
(4)
finite
(9)
Florence Nightingale
(2)
Florentin Smarandache
(1)
Florin Diacu
(1)
formula
(4)
found poem
(9)
fractal
(10)
fraction
(7)
Francisco JosÃ© Craveiro de Carvalho
(1)
Frank Bernhart
(1)
Freedom Plow Award
(1)
G H Hardy
(4)
Gabriel Prajitura
(3)
Galway Kinnell
(3)
game theory
(3)
Garrett Hardin
(5)
Gary Snyder
(2)
Geof Huth
(2)
geometric
(5)
geometry
(56)
Georg Cantor
(3)
Georganne Harmon
(1)
George Bacovia
(3)
George Bernard Shaw
(1)
girl
(4)
Gizem Karaali
(17)
Grace Murray Hopper
(3)
Gregory K Pincus
(1)
groundhog
(4)
Guillevic
(6)
Hailey Leithauser
(1)
Harry Mathews
(4)
Hedy Lamarr
(2)
Henry Lok
(2)
hexagon
(5)
Hilda Hilst
(1)
Howard Nemerov
(8)
Humanistic Mathematics
(4)
Hypatia
(5)
hypotenuse
(8)
identity
(8)
Iggy McGovern
(3)
Ileana Malancioiu
(2)
imaginary
(6)
infinite
(42)
infinity
(28)
integer
(6)
intersection
(4)
Irina Mitrea
(2)
irrational
(13)
Isaac Newton
(7)
James Murray
(1)
James Tattersall
(1)
Jane Hirshfield
(4)
Janet R. Kirchheimer
(1)
JHM
(15)
Jill Pipher
(2)
Joan Mazza
(5)
JoAnne Growney
(69)
John Bricuth
(1)
John Devlin
(1)
Jorge Luis Borges
(6)
Journal of Humanistic Mathematics
(19)
Judith Grabiner
(1)
Judith Johnson
(1)
Judith McCombs
(1)
Judith Roitman
(1)
Judy Green
(5)
Julia Robinson
(2)
Julia Spicher Kasdorf
(3)
June Jordan
(6)
Karl Patten
(3)
Karl Weierstrass
(3)
Karren Alenier
(1)
Kate Stange
(2)
Katherine Johnson
(2)
Katherine Silkin
(2)
Katherine Young
(1)
Katie Manning
(2)
Kay Ryan
(2)
Kaz Maslanka
(5)
Ken Stange
(2)
Kenneth Koch
(1)
Kevin Clark
(2)
Kim Roberts
(2)
Kovalevskaia
(1)
Kovalevskaya
(2)
Kyi May Kaung
(3)
Kyoko Mori
(3)
Lana Turner
(1)
Langston Hughes
(3)
Laura Long
(2)
Lawrence Mark Lesser
(6)
length
(4)
Leonhard Euler
(3)
Lewis Carroll
(10)
Lidia Vianu
(1)
Lilavati
(2)
Lillian R Lieber
(2)
limerick
(15)
limit
(8)
Linda Pastan
(3)
line
(28)
logarithmic spiral
(2)
logic
(15)
Lord Byron
(4)
Lucia Perillo
(1)
Lucille Clifton
(1)
Lucille Lang Day
(3)
Madhur Anand
(4)
magic
(7)
Marcel Duchamp
(3)
Margaret Atwood
(2)
Margaret Cavendish
(2)
Mari-Lou Rowley
(2)
Marianne Moore
(5)
Marilyn Nelson
(1)
Marion Cohen
(7)
Marion Deutsche Cohen
(3)
Mark Behme
(1)
Mark Strand
(1)
Mark Twain
(1)
Martha Siegel
(2)
Martin Dickinson
(2)
Martin FitzPatrick
(1)
Martin Gardner
(10)
Mary Cornish
(3)
Mary Gray
(2)
Mary-Sherman Willis
(2)
Maryam Mirzakhani
(4)
math-girls
(1)
math-women
(7)
Mathematical Intelligencer
(6)
matSHEmatics
(1)
Maxine Kumin
(1)
Maya Angelou
(1)
measure
(13)
Michael Bartholomew-Biggs
(2)
Michael Round
(1)
Mike Keith
(3)
Mike Naylor
(1)
Miles David Moore
(1)
Millicent Borges Accardi
(2)
Millie Niss
(2)
mnemonic
(5)
Mobius band
(4)
Mobius strip
(3)
Moon Duchin
(1)
My Dance Is Mathematics
(5)
Myra Sklarew
(1)
NASA
(5)
Nicanor Parra
(2)
Nichita Stanescu
(10)
Nick Montfort
(4)
Nina Cassian
(5)
nothing
(11)
number
(47)
Numbers and Faces
(1)
obtuse
(3)
odd
(8)
OEDILF
(4)
Olga Taussky-Todd
(1)
opposite
(8)
Oulipo
(18)
Pablo Neruda
(5)
palindrome
(7)
pantoum
(5)
parabola
(5)
parallel
(17)
Patrick Bahls
(3)
pattern
(8)
Pennsylvania
(6)
perfect
(5)
perfect square
(1)
permutation
(18)
perpendicular
(6)
Peter Cameron
(3)
Philip Larkin
(2)
Philip Levine
(2)
Pilish
(4)
Plain View Press
(3)
POETRY App
(2)
Poetry Foundation
(8)
prime
(24)
prisoner's dilemma
(3)
probability
(7)
problem
(10)
professor
(4)
proof
(15)
prose poem
(6)
puzzle
(9)
Pythagoras
(5)
Pythagorean
(2)
Rachel Levy
(4)
Rachel Swaby
(4)
Randall Munroe
(4)
random
(7)
rational
(6)
Richard Aston
(4)
Richard Kostelanetz
(1)
Richard Wilbur
(3)
Rick Mullin
(1)
Rita Dove
(3)
Robert Dawson
(6)
Robin Chapman
(4)
Romania
(10)
Ron Padgett
(3)
Ronald Wallace
(3)
Rudyard Kipling
(2)
Russell Edson
(2)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(3)
Sandra DeLozier Coleman
(3)
Sarah Browning
(3)
Sarah Glaz
(30)
science
(10)
Scottish Cafe
(3)
sea butterfly
(1)
Seamus Heaney
(1)
septina
(1)
sestina
(9)
Sharon Olds
(3)
Shel Silverstein
(1)
Sherman Alexie
(4)
Sherman Stein
(5)
Skagway
(3)
Solomon Marcus
(2)
Sophia Kovalevsky
(4)
Sophie Germain
(2)
sphere
(7)
square
(60)
square poem
(13)
square stanza
(5)
Stacey Vargas
(2)
Stanislaw Ulam
(3)
statistics
(15)
STEAM
(4)
STEM
(8)
Stephanie Strickland
(11)
Sue VanHattum
(5)
sum
(14)
symmetry
(7)
Szent-Gyorgyi
(1)
T S Eliot
(2)
teach
(2)
teacher
(7)
Theodore Roethke
(2)
theorem
(16)
Todd Sforno
(1)
Tom Lehrer
(2)
Tom Petsinis
(2)
Tomas Transtromer
(3)
Tragedy of the Commons
(3)
Vasko Popa
(2)
Veneta Masson
(1)
Vi Hart
(1)
Vijay Seshadri
(1)
W. H. Auden
(3)
Wallace Stevens
(6)
Walt Whitman
(2)
Wang Ping
(1)
Wendy Cope
(1)
William Carlos Williams
(2)
William Dunham
(4)
William Pitt Root
(1)
William Rowan Hamilton
(4)
William Stafford
(1)
William Wordsworth
(4)
Wislawa Szymborska
(12)
woman
(20)
women
(19)
xkcd.com
(3)
Yves Bonnefoy
(2)
Yvette Neisser Moreno
(1)
zero
(30)