Grayswandir (_grayswandir_) wrote,
Grayswandir
_grayswandir_

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Euclid vs. Lobachevsky [April Poetry Month]

All right, well, having survived yet another Chemistry exam and yet another Russian exam, I'm back to have another go at April Poetry Month... and having, on a whim prompted by hamsterwoman, mocked the Millay poem I posted a few days ago, I now bring you another Millay poem, this one concerning Euclid, along with a humorous riposte-poem by Roger Zelazny, concerning Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky (who developed non-Euclidean geometry). Always falling in with the Russians, that Zelazny, isn't he? ;)

So, for you lovers of mathematics -- behold, poems of geekery. Actually, the first is quite chastely magnificent, and the second, quite roguishly fun. Have a look. I, meanwhile, am off to sleep.

Euclid Alone Has Looked On Beauty Bare
Edna St. Vincent Millay

Euclid alone has looked on Beauty bare.
Let all who prate of Beauty hold their peace,
And lay them prone upon the earth and cease
To ponder on themselves, the while they stare
At nothing, intricately drawn nowhere
In shapes of shifting lineage; let geese
Gabble and hiss, but heroes seek release
From dusty bondage into luminous air.
O blinding hour, O holy, terrible day,
When first the shaft into his vision shone
Of light anatomized! Euclid alone
Has looked on Beauty bare. Fortunate they
Who, though once only and then but far away,
Have heard her massive sandal set on stone.
And in reply:
Lobachevsky's Eyes
Roger Zelazny

Lobachevsky alone has looked on Beauty bare.
She curves in here, she curves in here. She curves out there.
Her parallel clefts come together to tease
In un-callipygianous-wise;
With fewer than one hundred eighty degrees
Her glorious triangle lies.
Her double-trumpet symmetry Riemann did not court -
His tastes to simpler-curvedness, the buxom Teuton sort!
An ellipse is fine for as far as it goes,
But modesty, away!
If I'm going to see Beauty without her clothes
Give me hyperbolas any old day.
The world is curves, I've heard it said
And straightway in it nothing lies.
This then my wish, before I'm dead:
To look through Lobachevsky's eyes.
Tags: april poetry month, edna st vincent millay, poetry, roger zelazny
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