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SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY POETRY:
14.0 VARIOUS APPENDICES
by
JONATHAN VOS POST

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RETURN TO SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY POETRY TABLE OF CONTENTS

14.0 VARIOUS APPENDICES

John Updike Martin Gardner (Mathematical Games) Other Scientific American Poems Isaac Asimov Nicanor Parra H. P. LOVECRAFT'S POETRY Japanese SF Poetry [Gene van Troyer] {to be done} JOHN UPDIKE : Specific references for science poems include: "Ode to Rot", The Atlantic Monthly, January 1985, p.83 (wonderful use of very technical vocabulary, such as: ... let rot proclaim its revolution: the microscopic hyphae sink the fangs of enzymes into the rosy peach and turn its blush a yielding brown, a mud of melting glucose: once staunch committees of chemicals now vote to join the invading union, the former monarch and constitution routed by the riot of rhizoids, the thalloid consensus.... "Dance of the Solids", Scientific American, January 1969, 2 pages; reprinted in Midpoint and Other Poems; (composed in response to the September 1967 Scientific American special issue on Materials, consists of 11 9-line stanzas rhymed ABABBCBCB, on atoms, x-ray diffraction, metals, ceramic, glass, polymers, heat, electroconductivity, nonstochiometric crystals, lasers, and magnetism, example: Textbooks and Heaven only are Ideal; Solidity is an imperfect state. Within the cracked and dislocated Real Nonstochiometric crystals dominate. Stray Atoms sully and precipitate; Strange holes, excitons, wander loose; because Of Dangling Bonds, a chemical Substrate Corrodes and catalyzes -- surface Flaws Help Epitaxial Growth to fix adsorptive claws. MARTIN GARDNER quoted or created science poetry now and again in his Mathematical Games column of Scientific American. The following pages do not present a complete listing of these, no such complete indexing has yet been prepared. But those examples I have clipped and filed must be considered as essential to our discipline. For example, in the October 1960 issue he corrected the quote from The Mikado "with cloth untrue, and twisted cue, and elliptical billiard balls" to the correct "ellipsoidal", and posed this puzzle whose first line was the only immortal line by the forgotten poet John William Burgon: A rose-red city half as old as Time. One billion years ago the city's age Was just two-fifths of what Time's age will be A billion years from now. Can you compute How old the crimson city is today? In the April 1961 issue, p.168, he writes "now and then, when someone discovers an elegant new theorem, he is moved to record it in verse. An amusing modern instance is "The Kiss Precise", a poem by the distinguished chemist Frederick Soddy, who coined the word 'isotope.'" He quotes and explains the poem, [Nature, 137 (20 June 1936) 3477, p.1021], whose 2nd verse is: Four circles to the kissing come, The smaller are the benter. The bend is just the inverse of The distance from the centre. Though their intrigue left Euclid dumb There's now no need for rule of thumb. Since zero bend's a dead straight line And concave bends have minus sign, The sum of the square of all four bends Is half the square of their sum. In May 1968, he expands on Soddy's verse with an n-dimensional extension by Thorold Gosset of the University of Cambridge, Nature, 139 (9 January 1937) p.62. In December 1962 and March 1963 he presents and discusses Louis Aragon's poem "Suicide": a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z in which by moving from one letter to the next like a chess king, one can find messages such as "chin up", "stunning", "no onions", "stop, idiots!", "join up", "hoping not", and (as Linus Pauling noted), "no hiding." In April 1963 he cites the brilliant limerick by Leigh Mercer of London: 1,264,853,971.2758463 The puzzle being: how to read this number AS a limerick? Answer: One thousand two hundred and sixty- Four million eight hundred and fifty- Three thousand nine hun- Dred and seventy-one Point two seven five eight four six three. July 1963 is based on two quoted poems, the first from The Space Child's Mother Goose by Frederick Winsor, namely: Three jolly sailors from Blaydon-on-Tyne They went to sea in a bottle by Klein. Since the sea was entirely inside the hull The scenery seen was exceedingly dull. and the second anonymous: A mathematician named Klein Thought the Mobius band was divine. Said he: "if you glue The edges of two, You'll get a weird bottle like mine." In December 1963 he starts with John Keats' stanza from "La Belle Dame sans Merci": She took me to her elfin grot, And there she wept and sigh'd full sore, And there I shut her wild, wild eyes With kisses four. Keats had commented in a letter "Why four kisses, you will say.... I was obliged to choose an even number that both eyes might have fair play.... I think two a piece quite sufficient. Suppose I had seven; there would have been three and a half a piece -- a very awkward affair." February 1964 has word squares and word cubes, including one by four readers including the palindrome expert and distinguished mathematician Solomon Golomb (from whom I took a Error Correcting Codes course at Caltech), noting "it could pass for a beatnik poem. Can anyone ... square a beatnik?": C U B E U G L Y B L U E E Y E S In March 1966, there is a discussion of the remarkable 1963 discovery by Paul J. Cohen (the greatest mathematician from my alma mater Stuyvesant High School) regarding the question open since Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Philipp Cantor, as to "whether or not there is an order of infinity higher than the number of integers but lower than the number of points on a line" by quoting the anonymous: A graduate student at Trinity Computed the square of Infinity. But it gave him the fidgets To put down the digits, So he dropped Math and took up Divinity. A 1968 column opens with a quote from Alexander Pope's The Dunciad, Book 2: Ah why, ye gods! should two and two make four? The December 1968 column begins with a limerick by the late Science Fiction author Cyril Kornbluth: A burleycue dancer, a pip Named Virginia, could peel in a zip; But she read science fiction And died of constriction Attempting a Mobius strip. In March 1969 he syas "There is a considerable literature, some of it dubious, about the appearance of the golden ratio and the closely related Fibonacci sequence in organic growth and about their applications to art, architecture and even poetry. George Eckel Duckworth, professor of classics at Princeton University, maintains in his book Structural Patterns and Proportions in Virgil's Aeneid (University of Michigan Press, 1962) that the Fibonacci series was consciously used by Vergil and other Roman poets of the time...." August 1969 has Gardner quote Henry David Thoreau's Walden (I have made the line breaks this way, not Thoreau or Gardner): Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail. September 1969, prefacing a discussion of "Napoleon's problem" (to divide a circle, its center being given, into four equal arcs, using the compass alone) with a discussion of science poet "[Lorenzo] Mascheroni was an ardent admirer of Napoleon and the French Revolution. In addition to being a professor of mathematics at the University of Pavia, he also wrote poetry that was highly regarded by Italian critics. There are several Italian editions of his collected verse. His book Problems for Surveyors (1793) was dedicated in verse to Napoleon. The two men met and became friends in 1796, when Napoleon invaded northern Italy. A year later, when Mascheroni published his book on constructions with the compass alone, he again honored Naploeon with a dedication, this time a lengthy ode." May 1970, Martin Gardner comments that "Zulus, for example, live in an almost completely round world. Their huts and doors are rounded. They plow fields in curves. Straight lines and right angles are seldom seen and there is no word for 'square' in their language. As John Updike puts it in the second stanza of his poem 'Zulus Live in Land without a Square': When Zulus cannot smile, they frown, To keep an arc before the eye. Describing distances to town, They say, "As flies the butterfly." September 1964's "Mathematical Games" column on puns, palindromes and other word games that partake of the mathematical spirit begins with a quote from John Updike's Thoughts while Driving Home: Was I clever enough? Was I charming? Did I make at least one good pun? and then quotes George Canning's verse (he was an early 19th-century British statesman): A word there is of plural number, Foe to ease and tranquil slumber; Any other word you take And add an "s" will plural make. But if you add an "s" to this, So strange the metamorphosis, Plural is plural now no more, And sweet what bitter was before. (the answer to the riddle is the transformation of the word CARES to CARESS). A double version of this is in the old riddle: From a number that's odd, cut off the head, It then will even be; Its tail I pray now take away, Your mother then you'll see. (SEVEN -> EVEN -> EVE). In the December 1964 column, Gardner adds "Stuart G. Schaeffer found another, more timely solution to the 'cares-caress' riddle, which he expresses in what he calls 'shaggy doggerel': A century and more ago Clairvoyant Englishmen did know That in the twentieth century Tranquility would shattered be, And so suggested bitter noise Be changed to sweet and silent joys By adding modest and conceitless "S" to make the Beatles beatless. Returning to the September 1964 column of Gardner's, he then writes "A classic instance of accidental word play is provided by the first (1819) edition of William Whewell's Elementary Treatise on Mechanics. On page 44 the text can be arranged in the following form: There is no force, however great, Can stretch a cord, however fine, Into a horizontal line, Which is accurately straight. "The buried poem was discovered by Adam Sedgwick, a Cambridge geologist, who recited it in an afterdinner speech. Whewell was not amused. He removed the poem by altering the lines in the book's next printing. Whewell actually published two books of serious poetry, but this unintended doggerel is the only 'poem' by him that anyone now remebers." Whewell, I might add, has the immortality of providing us with the very word SCIENTIST. Later, in the same column, Gardner says "Max Beerbohm's eye caught the unintended beat in the following lines on the copyright page of the first English edition of one of his books: London: John Lane, The Bodley Head New York: Charles Scribner's Sons Beerbohm completed the quatrain by writing This plain announcement, nicely read, Iambically runs. 'Quintessential light verse,' wrote John Updike, commenting recently on the above lines, 'a twittering of the starkest prose into perfect form, a marriage of earth with light, and quite magical. Indeed, were I a high priest of literature, I would have this quatrain made into an amulet, and wear it about my neck, for luck.'" Gardner then quotes a "splendid spoonerism" by Ogden Nash: ...I am a conscientious man, when I throw rocks at sea birds I leave no tern unstoned, I am a meticulous man and when I portray baboons I leave no stern untoned. He then discusses James Joyce and Lewis Carroll. The June 1968 column relates the Rand Corporation's A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates, physicist Alfred M. Bork's article "Randomness and the Twentieth Century" (The Antioch Review, Spring 1967), and a lovely quote from Lord Dunsany in his Tales of Three Hemispheres. October 1969 brings us russian poet Andrei Voznesensky's "clever Russian palindrome [reported in The New York Times, July 21], "A luna kanula", meaning "The moon has disappeared," was written, the Russian poet explained, so that one can travel letter by letter to the moon and back. In November 1969 he mentions that "Until I read his [Sackson's] book I did not know that the 17th Century poet Sir John Suckling invented cribbage." He gives us the anagram MOON STARERS = ASTRONOMERS. In April 1970, he writes "The moon circles the earth, as the earth circled the central fire in the Pythagorean model, so that it always keeps the same face toward the earth. This has intrigued poets, major and minor, as well as astronomers. Robert Browning's 'One Word More' likens the moon's two sides to the two 'soul-sides' of every man: 'one to face the world with, one to show a woman when he loves her!' Edmund Gosse claimed that his housekeeper penned the following immortal quatrain: O moon, when I gaze on thy beautiful face, Careering along through the boundaries of space, The thought has often come into my mind If ever I shall see thy glorious behind. He then quotes Lord Byron whom in Don Juan spoke of "a rosy sky, with one star [Venus] sparkling through it like an eye." March 1971's column springs from the verse by J.A. Lindon: Points Have no parts or joints. How can they then combine To form a line? June 1971 deals with the Turing Game (and the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence) with quotations from Samuel Butler's Erewhon, Alan Turing's imaginary dialog between human and machine beginning Q: Please write me a sonnet on the subject of the Forth Bridge" A: Count me out on this one. I never could write poetry. May 1972 discusses "[Anthony S.M.] Dickins, a leading expert on unorthodox chess, is the founder of the Q Press and the magazine Poetry." August 1972 opens with an anonymous limerick: The Binary Gray code is fun, For in it strange things can be done. Fifteen, as you know, Is one, oh, oh, oh, And ten is one, one, one, and one. In that same August 1972 issue, "Origins of the Binary Code" covers the historic contributions of Francis Bacon (1561-1626) whose omnia per omnia code for conveying sevret messages in apparently innocent communications was binary, Joseph Marie Jacquard (1752-1834) who invented punched cards; George Boole (1815-1864) creator of the binary logic essential to today's computers, and Emile Baudot (1845-1903) who actually invented the aforementioned Gray code. The connections between poetry and computers run deep, and have been outlined in my monograph excerpted as "Poetry and Artificial Intelligence" in Star*Line. November 1972 discusses "the practical uses and bizarre abuses of Sir Francis Bacon's bilateral cipher." December 1972's column on the torus, or doughnut shape, begins with the anonymous: As you ramble on through life, brother, Whatever be your goal, Keep your eye upon the doughnut And not upon the hole! May 1974 identifies an oft-quoted limerick about Special Relativity as being by A.H. Reginald Butler, a Canadian botanist. July 1974's discussion of the Pell Equation quotes a previously unpublished mathematical Clerihew by J.A. Lindon: To equations simultaneously Pellian My approach is Machiavellian. Anything goes, rather than resort to such actions As covering the walls with continued fractions. In December 1974 -- "The arts as combinatorial mathematics, or how to compose like Mozart with dice" -- Martin Gardner muses "Consider a poem. Assign distinct numbers to each letter of the alphabet, to each punctuation symbol, and so on. A certain digit, say 0, can be used to separate the numbers. It is obvious that one long string of digits can express the poem. If the books of a vast library contain every possible combination of words and punctuation marks, as they do in Jorge Luis Borges' famous story 'The Library of Babel,' then somewhere in the collection is every poem ever written or that can be written. Imagine those poems coded as digital sequences and indexed. If one had enough time, billions on billions of years, one could locate any specified great poem. Are there algorithms by which one could find a great poem not yet written?" September 1975's column on numerology and the King James Bible, gives two classic Biblical poem-riddles, the first of which is: Five hundred begins it. Five hundred ends it. Five in the middle is seen. The first of all letters, the first of all numbers, Have taken their places between. And if you correctly this medly can spell The name of an eminent king it will tell. [DAVID]. November 1975's discussion on maps quotes from Lewis Carroll's Hunting of the Snark. December 1975 gives the contended poem by Lewis Carroll, each foot of which is an anagram. Experts, not having Carroll's own solution, argue about which anagrams are intended: As to the war, try elm. I tried. The wig cast in, I went to ride 'Ring? Yes.' We rang. 'Let's rap.' We don't. 'O shew her wit!' As yet she won't. Saw eel in Rome. Dry one: he's wet. I am dry. O forge Th'rogue Why a net? January 1976, p.123, gives three references to the Carroll anagrams, and the consesnus solutions (i.e. "Her Wit" = writhe, not wither or whiter). April 1976 gives some additional solutions, such as: "Let's rap" = plaster, not stapler or persalt or palters or psalter or platers, etc.) February 1976 focuses on pangrams (attempts to pack as many different letters as possible into the shortest intelligible sentence, such as "pack my box with five dozen liquor jugs"). Martin Gardner notes that "The difference between creating pangrams and working on [three dimensional] packing problems in combinatorial geometry is not as great as one might suppose. The restraints on the former are the formation rules of English spelling and grammar and those in the latter are the rules of mathematics. At least two eminent mathematicians, Augustus De Morgan and Claude E. Shannon, are on record as having spent considerable time composing pangrams, and I know many lesser mathematicians who have tried their hand at it." May 1976, p.123, gives "an uncanny footnote" about Edgar Allan Poe's last book, Eureka, which contains a cosmological vision "astonishingly like [the modern physicist John] Wheeler's. A universe begins, said Poe, when God creates a 'primordial particle' out of nothing. From it matter is 'irradiated' spherically in all directions...." an involves gravitational collapse, and a "superspace [in which] the cyclical birth and death of an infinity of universes is a process that goes on 'for ever, and forever, and forever; a novel Universe swelling into existence, and then subsiding into nothingness at every throb of the Heart Divine.'" Gardner doesn't mention the parallel between Eureka and Olaf Stapledon's The Star-Maker, which I suggest shows the influence of Poe on the great philosopher-novelist who in turn was the main influence on Arthur C. Clarke. June 1976, p.125, has a discussion of Bell numbers (named after Eric Temple Bell, the Caltech Math professor who published Science Fiction under the pseudonym John Taine, as analyzed in The Search for E. T. Bell, Also Known as John Taine, Constance Reid, Mathematical Association of America, 1993). "the number of possible rhyme schemes for a stanza of n lines is a Bell number. A quatrain has 15 possible rhyme schemes. A 14-line sonnet, if convention is thrown to the winds, can have 190,899,322 (the 14th Bell number)." Gardner cites James Branch Cabell's concealed sonnet in Chapter 14 of Jurgen, and references the doctoral thesis of Joanne Growney, one of whose articles is referenced in our Section 6.3. The February 1977 column -- "The flip-strip sonnet, the lipogram and other mad modes of wordplay" -- is an important introduction to the work of the "slightly mad French group called the Oulipo. The name comes from Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle (Workshop of Potential Literature). Although this column will be primarily about the Oulipo, I shall digress frequently to cite the work of comparable experts in English." Oulipo was founded in 1960 by Francois Le Lionnais and Raymond Queneau (1903-1976), as mentioned in Section 4.2, and includes as other French members: Noel Arnaud, Marcel Bénabou, Jacques Bens, Claude Berge, Paul Braffort, Jacques Duchateau, Luc Étienne, Paul Fournel, Jean Lescure, Michele Métail (the only woman in the group), Georges Perec, Jean Queval and Jacques Roubaud. The foreign members are André Blavier (Belgium), Italo Calvino (Italy), and Harry Matthews (U.S.A.). All members are mathematicians or writers or both. April 1977 gives a mathematical series of four successively truncated limericks: (1) There was a young girl in Japan Whose limericks never would scan. When someone asked why, She said with a sigh, "It's because I always attempt to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can. (2) Another young poet in China Had a feeling for rhythm much fina. His limericks tend To come to an end Suddenly. (3) There was a young lady of Crewe Whose limericks stopped at line two. (4) There was a young man of Verdun. June 1977's column on negative numbers opens with a quatrain by Irving E. Fang ("A Tale of Star-Crossed Lovers"): Inhabitants of Nega look surprisingly like us. Their students seek a minus grade, they grumble at a plus. In minus-fours the golfer walks, he never adds his score. Meanwhile, non-minussed is his wife by prices at the store. and quotes a jingle that W .H. Auden was taught in school: Minus time minus equals plus. The reasons for this we need not discuss. In July 1977, Martin Gardner quoted from "a flood of remarkable letters" responding to his February 1977 column of wordplay, including: "Albert L. Ely, Jr., interwove the quatrains by Elinor Wylie and Edna St. Vincent Millay with A.E. Houseman's 'A Shropshire Lad' to obtain the following stanzas:" With rue my heart is laden-- My candle burns at both ends For golden friends I had. It will not last the night For many a rose-lipt maiden, But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends, And many a lightfoot lad It gives a lovely light. By brooks to broad for leaping Sleep falls with limpid drops of rain. The lightfoot boys are laid Upon the steep cliffs of the town; The rose-lipt girls are sleeping; Sleep falls; men are at peace again In fields where roses fade While the small drops fall softly down." This sort of hypertext poetry, reweaving from the corpus of existing poetic texts, is the basis of a dozen of my own works, including in fact my "Hypertext Sonnet: Lines from 'A Shropshire Lad'", Datamation, July 1982, p.24. Martin Gardner goes on in July 1977 with "Dick Ringler, inspired by L. A. Lindon's palindromic dialogue between Adam and Eve, composed the following pair of quatrains, each a word reversal [word-by-word palindrome] of the other:" DIPTYCH To Theseus: Finding No Minotaur Thread the chaos, pattern the despair. Shadows loom and worry you: Dead hope, and empty heaven, and now bare Meadows -- fearful! but all perspective true. To Penelope: Weaving in Autumn True perspective all, but fearful! meadows Bare now, and heaven empty, and hope dead, You worry and loom shadows, Despair the pattern, chaos the thread. May 1978 is entirely about the Bell numbers, "versatile numbers that can count partitions of a set, primes, and even rhymes." It opens with a verse from Edgar Allan Poe's "The Bells." The use of Bell numbers to count possible stanzaic rhyme schemes "was first observed by the British mathematician J. S. Sylvester, but I have not been able to find a reference to it in his little book The Laws of Verse. He gives a lovely pictoral representation of rhyme schemes from Lady Murasaki, dating the Japanese study of verse structure to as early as 1000 A.D., and gives examples of quintet patterns in verses by Emily Dickenson, Alice Meynell, and W.S. Gilbert. June 1978 quotes Alexander Pope's Dunciad: Thus Amphisbaena (I have read) At either end assails; None knows which leads, or which is led, For both Heads are but Tails. The same column provides a topological fantasy poem by Sidney H. Sime, the British artist most closely associated with his illustrations of Lord Dunsany's fantasies. Sime's poem "The Ta Ta" is from his only book, the rare Bogey Beasts, which consists of original verses set to music. July 1978 discusses mazes, and quotes from Milton's Paradise Lost, Book V, 623-624, about a mystical dance of angels: ... Mazes intricate Eccentric, intervolv'd, yet regular Than most, when most irregular they seem. February 1979 excerpts three parodies of Poe's "The Raven", each based on a specific form of word-play. March 1979, "on altering the past, delaying the future and other ways of tampering with time" quotes from Lord Byron's play Cain, A Mystery where the fallen angel Lucifer says: With us acts are exempt from Time, and we Can crowd eternity into an hour Or stretch an hour into eternity We breathe not by a mortal measurement-- But that's a mystery September 1979, "in some patterns of numbers or words there may be less than meets the eye" begins with a quote from G.H. Hardy's A Mathematician's Apology: "A mathematician, like ... a poet, is a maker of patterns." He remarks on how "it is not surprising, considering the vast quantity of word sequences that are published as prose, to find examples of accidental verse. I am not referring to free verse, but to verse with an orderly pattern of meter or rhyme, prefereably both. It is trivially easy to take a passage of purple prose and break it into lines that give it the semblence of poetry. That has often been done with passages from the King James Bible and even from the novels of Charles Dockens. When William Butler Yeats compiled The Oxford Book of Modern Verse, he included a 'poem' on the Mona Lisa that he had found in an essay by Walter Pater. Similarly, in 1945, John S. Barnes published a book called A Stone, A Leaf, A Door which consists of prose passages from the novels of Thomas Wolfe presented in the form of verse." In describing the "minor flurry of interest in 'found poetry'" he cites The New Statesman competition for same; Simon & Schuster's publication of the book Pop Poems of found poetry from unlikely places; Canadian poet John Robert Columbo's several anthologies of found free verse; and John Updike's "poem" in his collection Telephone Poles and Other Poems from James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson. He mentions intentional poems concealed in prose by Washington Irving, Lewis Carroll, James Branch Cabell, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Canaday of The New York Times. Finally, he presents splendid accidental verses from Abraham Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural Address, James Thurber, James Reston, and (again, see Sep. 1968) the famous quatrain from William Whewell's An Elementary Treatise on Mechanics (1819), discovered by geologist Adam Sedgwick: And hence no force, however great, Can stretch a cord, however fine, Into a horizontal line That shall be absolutely straight. June 1980, on Simple Groups, has an anonymous "Simple Ballad, to be sung to the tune of 'Sweet Betsy from Pike'" December 1980's column on "patterns in primes" doles out the four stanzas of Helen Spalding's poem, one at a time in the text. Re-assembled, the poem goes: Let us now praise prime numbers With our fathers who begat us: The power, the peculiar glory of prime numbers Is that nothing begat them, No ancestors, no factors, Adams among the multiplied generations. None can foretell their coming. Among the ordinal numbers They do not reserve their seats, arrive unexpected. Along the lines of cardinals They rise like surprising pontiffs, Each absolute, inscrutable, self-elected. In the beginning where chaos Ends and zero resolves, They crowd the foreground prodigal as forest, But middle distance thins them, Far distance to infinity Yields them rare as unreturning comets. O prime improbable numbers, Long may formula-hunters Steam in abstraction, waste to skeleton patience: Stay non-conformist, nuisance, Phenomena irreducible To system, sequence, pattern or explanation. In February 1981, to kick off the discussion of how "Gauss's congruence theory was mod as early as 1801", Martin Gardner quotes the anonymous: There was a young fellow named Ben Who could only count modulo ten. He said, "When I go Past my little toe, I shall have to start over again." and later adds John McClellan's: A lady of 80 named Gertie Had a boyfriend of 60 named Bertie. She told him emphatically That viewed mathematically By modulo 50 she's 30. October 1981, on "Euclid's parallel postulate and its modern offspring", opens with Piet Hein's verse from Grooks VI: "Lines that are parallel meet at Infinity!" Euclid repeatedly, heatedly, urged. Until he died, and so reached that vicinity: in it he found that the damned things diverged. The rhyme of "infinity" with "vicinity" was used far earlier in Frederick Winsor's A Space Child's Mother Goose (see 2.3.3), but the rhyme of "infinity" with "in it he" is elegantly Gilbert & Sullivanesque or Larry Hart-ish. In the October 1981 book reviews by Philip Morrison, "The Universe of Martin Gardner" is reviewed -- nine books worth at that time. I was astonished to be reminded that Martin Gardner's immortal column began with a December 1956 piece on the folded paper constructions called flexagons by my poetry co-author, Nobel laureate Physicist Richard Feynman, when Feynman was just a Princeton grad student. After Scientific American editors asked Gardner to make the column regular, it ran over 300 times, and "has become the focus of a recognizable subculture." Surely there were many other science fiction poets besides myself who suckled on the mother's milk of of mathematical prose and poetry so presented. Morrison claims that "the most erudite reader response (November 1970) is surely that of George L. Hart III, who offered a classical palindrome in Sanskrit, a poem of 32 syllables called sarvatobhadra, 'perfect in every direction.'" After that, the column went to Douglas R. Hofstadter (who had the good taste to quote one of my gems with delight), who began his first column, November 1981, with a draught of Cole Porter's "It's All Right with Me", to discuss Chaos Theory: You can't know how happy I am that we met, I'm strangely attracted to you -------- other Mathematical Games references to Poetry to be added as I dig them up, or as readers of this draft write to me with references------------------------------ Other Scientific American Uses of Poetry In May 1961, Scientific American article "The Mathematician as an Explorer" expands upon "an elaborate theory of rhythm that had been developed in India more than a thousand years ago" which is summarized in the nonsense word: ya-MA-TA-RA-ja-BHA-na-sa-la-GAM in whose ten syllables one runs sequentially through all 8 possible permutations of three long and short beats, each once and only once, corresponding to the binary: 0111010001 (i.e., 011, 111, 110, 101, 010, 100, 000, 001). The July 1966 Scientific American article "Boron Crystals" by Don Sullenger and C.H.L. Kennard concludes: "... boron has given us beautiful new views of order in complexity. We can say of boron, as Alexander Pope wrote of Windsor Forest: Not chaos-like together crush'd and bruis'd But, as the world, harmoniously confus'd: Where order in variety we see, And where, though all things differ, all agree." In the February 1968 issue, p.7, Armin J. Deutch of the Mount Wilson and Palomar Observatories responds to Kip Thorne's (Caltech) previous article on Black Holes with the verse: According to Chandrasekhar A fully degenerate star Continues to glimmer, Forevermore dimmer, Disdaining what's brusque or bizarre. But stars that have greater than one And two-tenths the mass of the sun Close space in around them -- Which is why no one's found them -- With nuclear fusion all done. An August 1968 book review of Language and Symbolic Systems by Yuen Ren Chao (Cambridge University Press, $1.95) asks rhetorically "Where else can you find a Chinese paragraph, consisting solely of 36 repetitions of the single syllable hsi (using four tones, to be sure), that he assures us a reader of classical Chinese can make out to be a somewhat improbable story about a Mr. Hsi who regularly took his pet rhinoceros to West Creek for an evening bath and romp?" December 1969's Scientific American debuts a poem by W.H. Auden, p.130?, written after the poet had read "Life on the Human Skin" by Mary J. Marples (January 1969). This marvellous poem, unquestionably science fiction, is entitled "A New Year Greeting (for Vassily Yanowsky)." Written from the point of view of the poet addressing the microbes that live on his skin, it makes the analogy to planet Earth, upon whose surface we are the microbes, suggesting that our lives depend more than we know on the life of Gaia. He sneaks in a reference to J.R.R. Tolkein, whose work he adored. An excerpt: My greetings to all of you, Yeasts, Bacteria, Viruses, Aerobics and Anaerobics; A Very Happy New Year To all for whom my ectoderm Is as Middle-Earth to me.... Then sooner or later, will dawn The Day of Apocalypse, When my mantle suddenly turns Too cold, too rancid for you, Appetizing to predators Of a fiercer sort, and I Am stripped of excuses and nimbus, A Past, subject to Judgment. February 1971's article "Solid Stars" by Malvin A. Ruderman begins delightfully: Twinkle, twinkle, little star How I wonder what you are, Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky. "Children have long been charmed by the notion that a star is a twinkling jewel embedded in the black night sky. Their parents may smile indulgently, having been taught that stars are really spheres of incandescent gas. During the past decade, however, it has become apparent that in some cases the child's picture is closer to the truth: the core of certain dense stars and the outer layer of still denser ones are noew believed to be solid matter. Some stars probably consist mainly of carbon in exotic crystalline form. A parent would be a spoilsport indeed if he refused to regard such an object as a twinkling celestial diamond." May 1971's book review by Philip Morrison of Physics and Beyond: Encounters and Conversations, by Werner Heisenberg, tr. Arnold J. Pomerans, Harper & Row ($7.95), suggests that poetic metaphor played a key role in the foundations of Quantum Mechanics: "'My real scientific career only began,' writes Heisenberg, in the afternoon of a summer's day in 1922, on a walk with Neils Bohr over the sunlit Hainberg behind Gottingen. Bohr, then 37, at the peak of his success with the old quantum theory, had been shaken on one point by a criticism made by young Heisenberg, who had worked up the matter (the second-order Stark effect) for a seminar in Munich. That day molded Heisenberg's career: Bohr explained that it was not the form of his planetary model of the atom but the properties of the unique stability of the property of atoms that had been his starting point. The orbital model was merely a language 'as in poetry', to create images and make connections. The emphasis on the primacy of intention and image over logic in the half-intuitive, contradictory unravelling of the atom was not forgotten..." In November 1971, Philip Morrison reviews The Dying Patient by Orville G. Brim, Jr., Howard E. Freeman, Sol Levine and Norman Scotch (Russell Sage Foundation, $10). In this review, he he says "The poet W.D. Snodgrass, who served as an orderly in a Veteran's Administration hospital, expressed the resentment of the young forced to attend to a whimpering old man who would not die: They'd say this was a worthwhile job Unless they tried it. It is mad To throw our good lives after bad; Waste time, drugs, and our minds, while strong Men starve. How many young men did we rob To keep you hanging on?" December 1971's book review includes Winds, by Mary O'Neill, ill. James Barkley, Doubleday ($5.95). "In Winds Mary O'Neill has made three dozen lyric poems out of her experience and knowledge. The airplane window, the types of clouds, the points of the compass have all given her topics. It is not easy to write a lyric on so objective a theme...." The January 1972 issue has a letter by Stephen M. Rowland of Cupertino, California, responding to Caltech professor Don L. Anderson's article on the San Andreas Fault (November 1971) with a 5-stanza poem. Since Los Angeles is slowly heading Northwest at an avergae of half-a-centimer per month, it will in a few million years, be next to San Francisco. As I typed this, by the way, I felt an aftershock to the disasterous 6.6 killer quake of 17 January 1994. One stanza reads: All aboard, you Californians, for we're splitting from the rest, Setting sail upon an ocean of basalt, Our helmsman is the granite rock on Inverness' crest, And our bearing line the San Andreas Fault. April 1972's "Letters" column has a poetic letter from Bruce A. Hopkins of Hamilton, Ohio: "The spectacular pictures illustrating the article on the scanning electron microscope by Thomas E. Everhart [now President of Caltech] and Thomas L. Hayes [January 1972] brought immediately to mind a 1944 offering of e.e. cummings. One stanza of 'Pity This Busy Monster, Manunkind' [Poems: 1923-1954, Harcourt Brace & World] reads:" pity this busy monster,manunkind, not. Progress is a comfortable disease: your victim (death and life safely beyond) plays with the bigness of his littleness -- electrons deify one razorblade into a mountainrange;lenses extend unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish returns on its unself. September 1972's "Verbal Communication" by the great linguist Roman Jakobson mentions his study "Linguistics and Poetics" in which he "attempted to outline the six basic functions of verbal communication: referential, emotive, conative, POETIC, phatic, and metalingual." He concludes "Finally, the analysis of grammatical transformations and of their import should include the poetic function of language, because the core of this function is to push transformations into the foreground. It is the purposeful poetic use of lexical and grammatic tropes and figures that brings the creative power of language to its summit. Such a marked innovation as the reverse temporal perspective recently used by three Russian poets independently of one another is hardly fortuitous. 'The future for you is trustworthy and definite. You say: Tomorrow we went to the forest' (A. Voznesenskij); "It happened that I found myself tomorrow (S. Kirsanov); "It was tomorrow" (G. Glinka). In a letter dated March 21, 1955, four weeks before his death, Einstein wrote: 'The separation between past, present and future has only the meaning of an illusion, albeit a tenacious one.'" December 1972's article "Prematurity and Uniqueness in Scientific Discovery" by the eminent molecular geneticist Gunther S. Stent takes as one of its two themes "Are scientific creations any less unique than artistic creations?" He quotes Chargoff's review of Crick & Watson's The Double Helix as saying that scientific autobiography is "a most awkward lterary genre... [in which most books] give the impression of having been written for the remainder tables of bookstores, reaching them almost before they are published ... [because scientists] lead monotonous and uneventful lives and ... besides often do not know how to write." Stent goes on to analyze "the view that both the arts and the sciences are activities that endeavor to discover and communicate truths about the world .... A creative act on the part of either an artists or a scientist would mean his formulation of a new meaningful statement about the world, an addition to the accumulated capital of what is sometimes called 'our cultural heritage.'" He then finds "an important difference between the creations of art and science, namely the feasibility of paraphrase.... To paraphrase a great work of art ... without loss of artistic quality requires a genius equal to the genius of the original creator." He ambiguously concludes that "Although all creative acts in both art and science are ... both commonplace and unique, some may nonetheless be more unique than other." In March 1973's letter column, W.H. Auden (p.8) responds to the December 1972 article by Gunther Stent by explaining that "Every good work of art exhibits two qualities, Nowness and permanence.... That means that, in the history of Art, there is Change but no Progress.... As we all know, much of the poetry, fiction, music, painting, etc. produced in any period is bad, though it may, temporarily enjoy great popular success. Scientists are in the fortunate position of being judged by their peers, not by the general public...." October 1973's issue, in its "The Authors" section (p.14), sheds poetic light on Jay M. Pasachoff, Director of the Hopkins Observatory at Williams College (also spent 2 years at Caltech). ".... He is given to composing light verse, some in the form known as the double dactyl, which has achieved a certain notoriety. He gives the following example, titled 'A Biographical Addendum': Higgledy-piggledy, Jay Myron Pasachoff, Williams astronomer, Dabbles in rhyme. Solar eclipses and Radiotelescopes Keep him contented The rest of the time. February 1974's review of Humboldt and the Cosmos, Douglas Bottig, Harper & Row, reports "To his [Humboldt] encyclopedic knowledge of science he added a consistent and courageous devotion to the radical ideas of the French Revolution. As a youth in the 'philistine and provincial' capital of reactionary Prussia he frequented the disenfranchised circle of the Jews Marcus Herz and Moses Mendelssohn 'with their emancipated women, modern science and avant-garde poetry.'" December 1974, p.154, reviews Eskimo Songs and Stories, collected by Knud Rasmussen on the Fifth Thule Expedition, selected and translated by Edward Field, Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence. "Every link of the chain a poet!" [the Netsilik -> Orpingilik et.al. -> Rasmussen -> Field]. In June 1975, Sidney D. Drell's article "Electron-Positron Annihiliation and the New Particles" quotes (p.50) "It is as the British poet Gerald Bullett described the arrival of Spring: Like a lovely woman late for her appointment She's suddenly here, taking us unawares, So beautifully annihilating expectation." October 1975's author William L. Rathje ("The Rise of a Maya Merchant Class") mentiones in the biographical note (p.12) "Apart from his professional work he draws cartoons and writes songs." October 1975's review (pp.135-136) of Ultrasonic Communication and Animals, Gillian Sales & David Pye, Halstead Press division of John Wiley & Sons., includes Pye's ingenious explanatory ballad: In days of old and insects bold (before bats were invented), No sonar cries disturbed the skies-- moths flew uninstrumented. The Eocene brought mammals mean And bats began to sing. Their food they found by ultrasound And chased it on the wing. Now deafness was unsafe because The loud high-pitched vibration Came in advance and gave a chance To beat echo-location. Some found a place on wings of lace To make an ear in haste; Some thought it best upon the chest And some below the waist.... April 1976 reviews The Emergence of Probability: A Philosophical Study of Early Ideas About Probability, Induction, and Statistical Inference, by Ian Hacking, Cambridge University Press. The review begins with an incident from the Mahabarata: The forest king Rtuparna amazes his charioteer, a gambler-king in exile, by examining a single twig and concluding that the great tree bears just 2,095 fruits. His companion confirms the result after all all-night count, one by one. Rtuparna expected no other outcome, because, he reminds his friend, I of dice possess the science and in numbers thus am skilled. July 1976's review of Work and Play: Ideas and Experience of Work and Leisure, Alasdair Clayre, Harper & Row, quotes a number of poems, including Brecht's Who built Thebes of the seven gates? The books give the names of kings. Did kings heave those blocks of stone? and folk songs such as: Where are the girls? I'll tell you plain The girls have gone to weave by steam and Poverty, poverty, knock! Me loom is sayin' all day. Poverty, poverty, knock! Gaffer's too skinny to pay. and It'll be bricht both day and nicht when the Greenland lads come hame, Wi' a ship that's fu' o' oil, my lads and money to our name. August 1976's article "The Curvature of Space in a Finite Universe" by J. J. Callahan discusses at length the conversation between Dante and Beatrice in canto XXVIII of The Divine Comedy, pp.99-100. August 1977's book review includes Scientific Quotations: The Harvest of a Quiet Eye, selected by Alan L. Mackay, ed. Maurice Ebison, ill. John Taylor, Crane Russak & Co. ($14). "This attractive and useful anthology, a delightful 'work of pure plagiarism' [actually hypertext] offers 167 pages of citations drawn from the perception and wit of authors from the Buddha to Paul Ehrlich. The great are here; plenty is heard from Goethe and Einstein, Shakespeare and the Bible... Who could ignore that Francis, Lord Jeffery once complained testily 'Damn the Solar System. Bad light; planets too distant; pestered with comets; feeble contrivance; could make a better myself.... V.I. Lenin understood what many bring forward now as a new viewpoint" 'it is absurd to deny the role of fantasy in even the strictest science.'" September 1977's "Letters" column includes a poetic reference from Alexander V. Bushkovitch, Professor of Physics, Emeritus, St. Louis University: "In her excellent article ["Poetic Responses to the Copernican Revolution", June 1977] Margaret M. Byrad says that Milton has sometimes been described as a 'reluctant Copernican.' This description is strongly suggested by the following passage (not included in Dr. Byard's article) from Paradise Lost, Book VIII, lines 70 to 84: This to attain, whether Heaven move or Earth Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest From Man or Angel the great Architect Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge His secrets, to be scanned by them who ought Rather admire. Or if they list to try Conjecture, he has his fabric of the Heavens Hath left to their disputes -- perhaps to move His laughter at their quaint opinions wide Hereafter, when they come to model heaven, And calculate the stars; how they will wield The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive To save appearances; how gird the Sphere With Centric and Eccentric scribbled o'er, Cycle and Epicycle, Orb in Orb... There is also an obvious foreshadowing of the relativistic worldview; in fact, Sir Arthur Eddington placed part of this passage on the page opposite the preface of his Space, Time and Gravitation (1923)." December 1978's "Hemoglobin Structure and Respiratory Transport" by M. F. Perutz begins with a verse from John Donne's "Of the Progresse of the Soule": Why grass is greene, or why our blood is red, Are mysteries which none have reach'd into. In this low forme, poore soule, what wilt thou doe? January 1979's review of An Introduction to Population Ecology, G. Evelyn Hutchinson, Yale University Press, quotes from Christopher Marlowe: We also need all the wondrous things under heaven: Their leaves that differed both in shape and showe (Though all were greene) yet difference such in greene Like to the checkered bent of Iris bowe! August 1979 has "Progress toward a Tokamak Fusion Reactor" by Harold P. Furth, and the biographical note (p.16) cites his best-known publication as the poem in the New Yorker that discribes an encounter between matter and antimatter, i.e. between Dr. Edward Teller and Dr. Edward Anti-Teller. In October 1979, Philip Morrison reviews Disturbing the Universe by Freeman Dyson, Harper & Row. Dyson quotes Robinson Jeffers and other poets. In fact, Morrison says "no review should fail to cite at least one of the poems that illuminate and explicate this unique work of devotion and honesty. The best, perhaps, ends the high tragedy of Robert Oppenheimer." The poem in question, which Oppenheimer's wife Kitty wanted read at his funeral, was "The Collar" by George Herbert. August 1980 reviews Robert Oppenheimer: Letters and Recollections, edited by Alice Kimball Smith and Charles Weiner, Harvard University Press. As a college freshman, for instance, Oppenheimer wrote to a High School English teacher: "... all that has driven me to whorls of stories and notes on the divgrad of an electrical field and French and merely English verses; and how, in a final catastrophe, I projected said verses toward you." November 1979 reviews Literary Detection: How to Prove Authorship and Fraud in Literature and Documents, by A.Q. Morton, Charles Scribner's Sons. August 1980's review of The Great Bronze Age of China, ed. Wen Fong, Knopf, quotes Arthur Waley's translation of a 3000 year-old funeral poem including: Who went with Duke Mu to the grave? Now this Yen-hsi Was the pick of all our men; But as he drew near the tomb-hole His limbs shook with dread. That blue one, Heaven, Takes all our good men. October 1980 reviews The Signs of Language, Edward S. Klima & Ursula Bellugi et.al, Harvard University Press. This book probes deeply into ASL (American Sign Language), claiming that "a gloss of the signs used seems almost cryptic, telegraphic -- like Chinese poetry. 'The man who was washing the car became angry because they jumped all over it' becomes just five signs: MAN WASH, ANGRY, WHY, JUMP. "Finally, language means wit, and it must also mean poetry. Without these there is no natural language. Fortran and Lisp have a way to go. ASL is not lacking.... It is less useful to try a summary of the poetry of Dorothy Miles, whose ASL work Four Haiku Poems is studied in detail here, with many line drawings and diagrams." ---------------------------- other Non-Martin Gardner Scientific American references to be added later, perhaps --------------- Isaac Asimov: Although Isaac Asimov told me that he considered himself utterly lacking in expertise about poetry, he did manage to publish 9 books about poetry/myth/drama/ song/writing, and 7 books of poetry. As confirmed by the bibliography in the 3rd volume of his autobiography, the posthumous I.Asimov [Doubleday, 1994] his credits in the poetry/song/drama field are: MYTH/DRAMA/POETRY/SONG/WRITING/CRITICISM: Words from the Myths, Houghton-Mifflin, 1961 Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare, Vol.I, Doubleday, 1970 Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare, Vol.II, Doubleday, 1970 Asimov's Annotated Don Juan, Doubleday, 1972 Asimov's Annotated Paradise Lost, Doubleday, 1974 Familiar Poems, Annotated, Doubleday, 1977 The Annotated Gulliver's Travels, Clarkson Potter, 1980 How to Enjoy Writing, with Janet Asimov, Walker, 1987 Asimov's Annotated Gilbert & Sullivan, Doubleday, 19?? ORIGINAL VERSE: Lecherous Limericks, Walker, 1975 More Lecherous Limericks, Walker, 1976 Still More Lecherous Limericks, Walker, 1977 Asimov's Sherlockian Limericks, Mysterious Press, 1977 Limericks: Too Gross, With John Ciardi, Norton, 1978 A Grossery of Limericks, With John Ciardi, Norton, 1981 Limericks for Children, Caedmon, 1984 In addition, Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine has been a major (perhaps THE major) market for Science Fiction & Fantasy poetry since its inception. One of the last projects approved before his death was my humorous summaries, in verse, of the entire corpus of Asimov's Science Fiction novels. Janet Jeppson Asimov confirmed, in writing, that he enjoyed them and approved their publication, while he was literally on his death bed. At this writing (July 1994) this set of poems has not yet been accepted for publication. -- Jonathan Vos Post NICANOR PARRA: This remarkable scientist/poet, born in 1914, studied Engineering at the University of Chile, and then received a degree in Physics from Brown University in 1943. In 1949 he won a British Council Scholarship to Oxford, where he worked with noted Cosmologist E. A. Milne. He returned to the University of Chile as a Professor of Physics. In one poem, "The Teachers" (1971) he writes ironically of science as taught in school, out of context, frustrating to kids who daydream of playing soccer. Translated from the Spanish, it includes the lines: Are there or are there not spiders on the Moon ... the dental structure of the tiger the scientific name of the swallow ... what is the formula for sulphur trioxide ... the universal law of gravity to what family does the cow belong what are the wings of insects called to what family does the duckbilled platypus belong ... the origin of the solar system the respiratory system of amphibians the organs exclusive to fishes the periodic system of the elements ... how long would it take a train to reach the moon ... the method of preparing ozone ... how to calculate the volume of a pyramid show that the root of two is an irrational number ... the electromagnetic theory of light...

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