I've just been granted leave to share a number of my students' poems with my readership! Much thanks to the students who have gotten back to me and let me put their work on display, both those of you who'd rather remain anonymous, and those who'd like their names plastered proudly on their work!

In no particular order, then, I give you...

The first I pulled from the stack at random, a little ditty by Sam, features a hidden message (read every seventh letter starting in the right position, and you'll find it...I cheated and typed the text into Mathematica to get it to paste together every seven letters):

Though It's Early, I'll Be There Surely!, by Sam

My, the amazed small one

At hardish attention will surmount

A test ahead

By reading a bunch, in easy bed stead

At this you can be delighted

As we, farsighted

Show our faces

In our favorite old "Man, is it eight?" places

A math class adored

I named thy award

It's found in my 4th

My paper explains

This next one is a stroke of parodical genius...I hope Lisette didn't spend too much time working on this send-up. I have a hunch her background includes a measure or two of Shakespeare (and her nights a good deal of euphoria-inducing caffeine):

Mathbeth, by Lisette

Act lim_(x -> 1+) 2x + 2, Scene lim_(x -> infinity) x^(1/x)

Student: By the scratching of my pencil

The answer slowly this way comes.

Open, mind,

the catacombs

Of transcendental sums.

But hark! Look you how the utensil moves!

(Enter Pencil Stage Right)

Pencil: How now, caffeine-riddled youth

What is it you do?

Student: A quest without an end.

Pencil: Horrors! Not another, fiend!

Student: Yet by your yellow wood I swear

'Twas not by my own choice!

Pencil: However the task was first derived,

To a veteran of your caravans,

Make good this oath with eye and voice:

Look to the ink of stalwart pens

In your aimless waste if parchment.

For never will your proofs amend

Those errors in your quotient.

Day upon day you dulled my lead

As ere you chased the numbers 'round.

So many times I thought, perhaps

You'd finally reached your limit,

Then watched my world shake upside-down

To briskly hide your mishaps.

I grew quite bald from misadventures

With wild domains and vicious powers

No more! I say again, No more!

My lead is soft, my wood is fragile.

Find some youth with a liquid core

And a shiny plastic shell.

We of wooden constitution

Have failed our last equation.

(Exeunt Pencil)

Student: So I, alone

But for my mug of coffee black,

Must weary waste the night away

With a knavish rogue called BIC.

(Flourish, Exeunt)

Farrah's oeuvre was one of the finest of the pi-based poems I received. The imagery (as much olfactory as visual) that it conjures up is magnificent, and the ironical twist at the end is superb. In her words, "I chose the topic of this poem because I was extremely hungry...then my thoughts on food and frustration led me to think about Pi which is delicious food that make my apartment smell like pastry and fruit and it is a pretty neat number...My favorite thing about the poem is the shape the poem made when centered on the page."

I hope the Blogger's pagination will render a similar effect, Farrah!:

Motivation for a Sweet Tooth, by Farrah

.

Chopped

Garlic onion ginger tamari

Tofu

Cooked in a hot wok

Delicious food fast from my two burner hot plate

Aroma fills

My tiny apartment for many days

One room living makes for

A constant smell

Garlic permeating the whole place

Maybe I should have made some delicious Pi

This next one is one of a handful of personal professions of mathematical affinity that I received. (I'm happy that some of my students are willing to own up to a love for mathematics!) Carrie's not the only one to speak of a certain "balance" or beauty in math, as you'll see below.

For Me, by Carrie

Some see it as confusion

Something messy, some ugly

Something they are forced to do.

I am not these

I see patterns everywhere

A balance here that is seldom elsewhere

There are answers, solutions

And it's not hard

For me

But I talk to different people

They avoid it

Keep it at a distance,

Far far away

Higher levels

Fewer people

People think that you are crazy

It's still not that hard

For me

Everyone has things they are good at

Some have writing

Some have art and music

Some will go on to speak to the masses

These are the things that I find hard

These are what I avoid

Just give me a math problem

Because it's not hard

For me

Our next piece is another deeply personal one, a reflection on the author's feelings about not only mathematics but the way in which it is encountered. After it was written, I talked with the author about the fact that every line begins with an 'I': this pattern was accidental at first, but once noticed became an intentional goal that was harder and harder to achieve with each line. I find that pattern interesting, given the self-focus of the poem:

Imperfect, by Anonymous

I am ready to be challenged

Ironically this is the first thing which has been problematic

It is difficult for me to be patient and understanding with others

Irritation seems to be my main state of emotion

Intricate concepts are something I crave

Implicit differentiation as surprisingly stimulating

I fear my arrogance will be my downfall

I am ready to be challenged with others who feel the same way

I've selected a few of my favorite haikus by this next author, who turned in no fewer than ten of them! The slightly humorous, yet still insightful, tone I found in these poems was delightful. The author has asked to remain anonymous.

Confusion

A tall ladder falls

At twenty feet per second

Why would it do this?

The Number "Pi"

Three point one four one

five nine two six five three five

eight nine seven nine...

Math in Daily Life

Patterns on my bunks,

They resemble the graphs of

cosine and sine curves.

The Inventors

Did Leibniz invent

calculus or did he steal

the work of Newton?

My thoughts about math

Sometimes I like math

more than art; veggies and fruits

are boring to draw.

Here's another admission of fondness for mathematics; I have to admit that I feel much as the anonymous author does.

Math, by Anonymous

Math

To put into poetic verse

Seems quite contradictory

Free form verse

Clashes the firm ways of

Math

To put into words

Seems rather absurd

Verbs and nouns

Make no substitution

For the numbers and functions of

Math

Does not need words to explain

It stands on its own

Its equations speak their own verses of poetry

Numbers create their own images

In forms of graphs and shapes

Ideas are not conveyed through rhymes,

Or rhythms,

But through logic

And reason

Poetry is not needed to show the beauty of math

Its charm is found beneath its theories, proofs and functions.

Mark's pi-based piece, below, involves not only mathematics but biology as well, giving a brief natural history, and perhaps a glimpse of the future. His work was heavily informed by his view of the universality of mathematics:

The Universe to 44 decimal places, by Mark

Hydrogen and oxygen,

Bonding,

Create habitat for life.

Abruptly:

Orderless masses become perfect spheres

These fragments yield amino acids within fermenting, fruitful seas,

Beneath a

Young light and even younger sky.

Molecules converge as RNA grows,

Followed by DNA.

Double helixes entwined with data,

Data that unleashes its complexity upon every duplication.

Cells are born, and form intricate relationships of survival,

Synergies of molecules endure harsh primordial seas.

Mitochondria and bacteria converge, becoming what both couldn't alone.

Fins dominate waves,

Eyes guiding,

Gills supporting all,

Including gaping jaws, merciless to those who're obsolete.

But the sun touches

Not only the sea, but the land

As well.

The sun reaches leaves, creating new opportunities,

As a toughened foot blemishes

The smooth sand.

Tethered to water,

A bind that only the amniotic egg cuts.

A fiery rock flies,

Bringing chaos.

An instant unravels an eternity of adaptation.

Hairy hands grasp wooden clubs, utilizing new-found digits.

Musket drawn, soldiers hunt shadows.

The moon:

A pearl-white foot disturbs dust, an eternal footprint.

Generations later, another foot climbs a sanguine summit,

Its owner re-imagining humanity.

Europa:

Ice-cold, alien, yet sharing same miraculous elements:

Hydrogen and oxygen, yet yielding entirely different organisms.

Sol

Keeps all of this life alive.

Precious, yet inconsequential, a speck in a milky-white galaxy,

Itself very insignificant,

One galaxy amongst countless, but all under one universe.

My final poem for this post (I've got a bunch more for which I'm waiting for permission to post) was one of the strongest of those submitted verses that worked off of the Fibonacci sequence. I love the way John makes use of the sequence's exponential growth to allow each line to elaborate further on the previous ones, until the final line is reached, where it seems a thematic turnaround is made. (I apologize for the decreasing font size in the final line; I've done this to try to accommodate the line on a single line of the screen...I think it's gonna fail anyway!)

Math, by John

Math?

Math is...

Math is everything;

The nature of everything is math.

The dynamics of today still follow original patterns.

And all the patterns in life and nature are based upon a formula.

But I wonder: do the laws of nature dictate these math formulas, or does nature follow universal laws created by math?

That's all for now, folks! I'm glad that I've been able to fulfill one of my promises. Later this week I'll post some more poems, and I'll get around to dissecting that Newton v. Leibniz thingamajobber.

For now, please have a pleasant eve.

## 1 comment:

What a concept! Math becomes literature. Unbelieveable. Beth

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