WATCHERS OF THE MOON:

Poetry, Science, and Technology in the Long Nineteenth Century

Subject Index: MATHEMATICS

TECHNICAL NOTE: The great majority of the links below are to
scanned antique books at the Internet Archive, most of them
anthologies. Poems frequently run for several pages; when coming
to the apparent end of a poem, *turn the page* to make sure!

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General/Elementary ---
Advanced Mathematics ---
Geometry ---
People
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Back to Main Subject Index
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**MATHEMATICS: General and Elementary****Anonymous: Applied Mathematics**An arithmetic joke. Would be funnier if it scanned.**Anonymous: There was an old man who said, Do****Anonymous: There was an old man who said, "Gee!"****Bailey, Philip James: The Age**A sort of Platonic dialogue about literature and everything under the sun, written in iambic couplets. The worldly, comedic mood is not at all typical of Bailey. Some mathematical passages include:**My brain, shall mathematics cramp and craze?**The speaker here is a poet who dislikes science for the usual reasons. The other characters then dispute his position, but soon (as usual throughout) wander off-topic.**'Tis not the dull, dry calculated facts**The poet-character resumes his attack: "*Do asymptotes assist the soul's salvation? // Are cube roots paradisal vegetation?*"**Equation**... for a literary critic, that vile creature.**Pegasus, fleeter than telegram**This would be a fine comic maths poem, but unfortunately includes a now-unacceptable rhyme for "figures".

**Baker, Karle Wilson: The Fractions Came Down***Sennacherib*parody from an*Alice in Wonderland*knock-off. The Fractions are beer-swilling Prussian-like invaders who sit around multiplication tables.**Binyon, Laurence: Numbers**... are independent of the universe.**Browning, Robert: Abt Vogler**"After he has been extemporising upon the musical instrument of his invention." Very complex meditation on creativity, with mathematical imagery (and embedded mathematical verse structures) drawn from music theory and Pythagorean philosophy.**Coleridge, Samuel Taylor: A Mathematical Problem**The teen-aged Coleridge turns a geometry problem into doggerel: "I may justly plume myself, that I first have drawn the nymph Mathesis from the visionary caves of abstracted Idea, and caused her to unite with Harmony."**Darley, George: A Poetical Problem**A pilgrim asks a flower how many drops of dew adorn her; the "pouting Flower" peevishly answers by setting an arithmetic problem in rhyme.**Gillies, Capt. Robert C.: Love Mathematical**He was constant but arbitrary, she was independent and variable, will they ever integrate? You get the idea.**Guiterman, Arthur: Logic**A joke.**Guiterman, Arthur: A Pure Mathematician**A bit stereotypical.**Housman, A. E.: When First My Way to Fair I Took**Time, like mathematics, cannot be altered.**Kipling, Rudyard: Arithmetic on the Frontier**Highly educated officers also die in battle.**Murray, R. F. ("A St. Andrews Man"): The Delights of Mathematics**did not exactly overwhelm this "bejant" (first-year University student).**Smith, Walter Chalmers: Orthodox?**From the longer poem "Raban". Uses a mathematical metaphor for theology.**Stephen, James Kenneth: Ode on the 450th Anniversary Celebration at Eton**With attempted arithmetic jokes.

**MATHEMATICS: Geometry:**- Bates, Arlo: A mathematical maiden named Chaucer
**Burgess, Clinton Brooks: Mrs. Isoceles Tri****Burgess, Clinton Brooks: Rev. Rectangular Square****Burgess, Gelett: Remarkable, Truly, is Art****Chesterton, G. K.: The Higher Mathematics**Obscure (possibly anti-Semitic or anti-Zionist) satire, with references to non-Euclidean geometry.**Davidson, John: Snow**Looking at ice crystals under the microscope inspires the poet to consider how infinite complexity can arise from simple geometry.**Deutsch, Babette: The Fourth Dimension:**Just a metaphor, like "romantic triangle", but indicative of how the idea of higher dimensions made inroads into the general imagination.**Emerson, Ralph Waldo: Circles**Emerson was fascinated by circles.**Emerson, Ralph Waldo: Uriel**Circles are superior to lines.**Foley, J. W.: Scientific Proof**Actually more "mathematical proof". Although not terribly funny, it contains some nice phrases (e.g. "*the real square root of North*") and is a memento of the several centuries when polar exploration was closely linked to mathematical astronomy.**Lindsay, Vachel: Euclid**Similar to Whitman's "Learn'd Astronomer".**List of Musical Settings**[Emily Ezust's Lieder Page]**Musical setting by Jake Heggie**

**Praed, Winthrop Mackworth: Charade (Cambridge)**About the*Pons Asinorum*of Euclidean geometry.**Quiller-Couch, Sir Arthur ("Q"): A New Ballad of Sir Patrick Spens**Famous mathematical parody.**Tabb, John Bannister: A Problem in Mathematics**Either a shallow joke or extremely profound. [Unfortunately the only online copy has typographical errors, even in the author's name.]

**MATHEMATICS: Advanced****Child, J. M.: The Cal-Dif-Fluk Saga**A pseudo-epic about the invention of calculus.**Forbes, George:**Unfortunately, we are unable to find the full text of this humourous poem, described in*Lament of the Twenty-One Coefficients**Science 7*, No. 152, p.9 [1886].**Guiterman, Arthur: Rudyard Kipling**Not quite the image of Kipling most people have: "*I will chant in Lowland Dutch / Of Quaternions and such, / And the boundless Fourth Dimension shall delight to honour ME!*"**Howells, William Dean: Statistics**The concluding stanza (turn the page!) includes the "gyre" theory of progress best known from Yeats. Illustrations by Howard Pyle.**Maxwell, James Clerk: (Cat's) Cradle Song, by a Babe in Knots****Maxwell, James Clerk: To the Committee of the Cayley Portrait Fund****Rankine, W.J.M.: The Mathematician in Love**Complete with equations.**Robb, A. A. The Revolution of the Corpuscle**Cavendish Laboratory party song (to the tune of "The Interfering Parrot", from*The Geisha,*a*Mikado*imitation by Sidney Jones).**Sill, Edward Rowland: The Clocks of Gnoster-Town**A rather heavy-handed satire, with some technological imagery and references to statistics.**Sill, Edward Rowland: The Links of Chance**An early (and subtle) exploration of the "butterfly effect".**Sylvester, J. J.: To a Missing Member of a Family Group of Terms in an Algebraical Formula**The inclusion of this poem in a long technical lecture was a bit odd even by Victorian standards, but no-one ever accused Sylvester of being an ordinary academic.

**SCIENTISTS: Mathematicians****Lord Byron:**Features a brief appearance by "Angle, the*Don Juan*, Canto XIII, 87*soi-disant*mathematician", thought by some critics to be Charles Babbage.**Forster, Thomas: Philosophical Breakfast Song**"*Come hasten to breakfast at Trinity College // For Herschel and Forster and Babbage and all // Are bringing their porridge // Their wit and their knowledge // From each learned college // And each learned hall.*"**Maxwell, James Clerk: To the Committee of the Cayley Portrait Fund****Hamilton, William Rowan: To The Memory Of Fourier**... who accomplished so much in his short life.**Eliza Hamilton: To W[illiam] R[owan] H[amilton]****Sir John Herschel: On a Scene in Ely Cathedral.**Written after praying there with Hamilton.**Aubrey De Vere: To Professor Hamilton**De Vere, a moderately distinguished poet, was one of Hamilton's best friends all his life.**Aubrey De Vere: To W. R. H.****Aubrey De Vere: In Memory Of Sir William Rowan Hamilton****Aubrey De Vere: Friend Of Past Years****Hamilton, William Rowan: On The Death Of Professor [James] MacCullagh**The Irish mathematical physicist who invented the "curl" operation in vector calculus. He committed suicide, horrifying his colleagues. Hamilton, who battled suicidal impulses himself, was particularly distressed.**Arnold, Edwin: Florence Nightingale**who is finally gaining some recognition as a statistician.**Holmes, Oliver Wendell: Benjamin Peirce: Astronomer, Mathematician**A dominant figure in American science for much of the 1800s, Peirce is better known today as the father of the logician Charles Peirce.