The poetry of mathematics, eh? How about the poetry of mathematicians... ?
(Poem #600) The Mouse's Tale
Fury said to a mouse, That he met in the house, 'Let us both go to law: I will prosecute you.-- Come, I'll take no denial; We must have a trial: For really this morning I've nothing to do.' Said the mouse to the cur, 'Such a trial, dear Sir, With no jury or judge, would be wasting our breath.' 'I'll be judge, I'll be jury,' Said cunning old Fury: 'I'll try the whole cause, and condemn you to death.'
Possibly the canonical example of emblematic verse - that is, verse formatted so as to visually resemble its theme. Here's the text that immediately precedes this charming piece of doggerel: " "You promised to tell me your history, you know", said Alice, "and why it is you hate -- C and D", she added in a whisper, half afraid that it would be offended again. "Mine is a long and a sad tale!" said the Mouse, turning to Alice, and sighing. "It _is_ a long tail, certainly", said Alice, looking down with wonder at the Mouse's tail; "but why do you call it sad?" And she kept on puzzling about it while the Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was something like this -- " " -- Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Curiously enough, "in the original manuscript of the book, an entirely different poem appears as the tale; in a way, a more appropriate one, for it fulfills the mouse's promise to explain why he dislikes cats and dogs, whereas the tale as it appears [in the published version] contains no reference to cats" . Here's the unpublished original: We lived beneath the mat, Warm and snug and fat. But one woe, and that Was the cat! To our joys a clog. In our eyes a fog. On our hearts a log Was the dog! When the cat's away, Then the mice will play. But alas! one day; (So, they say) Came the dog and cat Hunting for a rat, Crushed the mice all flat, Each one as he sat, Underneath the mat, Warm and snug and fat. Think of that! " -- Lewis Carroll, draft manuscript of Alice in Wonderland. (Aren't you glad Carroll chose to go with the revised version in the book?) thomas.  Martin Gardner, The Annotated Alice. [Links] Several emblematic poems have already featured on the Minstrels: 'Easter Wings' by George Herbert, poem #567 (It was in response to this poem that Anustup Datta pointed out the technical phrase for the genre, and suggested today's poem for the list. Thanks, Anustup). 'Landscape: I' by bpNichol, poem #498 'A Prayer to the Sun', by Geoffrey Hill, poem #349 We've visited Lewis Carroll before: poem #52 poem #265 poem #347 poem #409 The second of these pages has a brief biography of the poet, including the immortal line "As a mathematician, Carroll was ... derivative" <grin>. A longer biography can (as usual) be found in Britannica, http://www.eb.com [Trivia] Lewis Carroll was the pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. Dodgson arrived at this pen name by taking his own names Charles Lutwidge, translating them into Latin as Carolus Ludovicus, then reversing and retranslating them into English. [More Trivia] You may have heard the story that Queen Victoria loved Alice in Wonderland so much that she requested a copy of Lewis Carroll's next book; her reward was a treatise on determinants . Unfortunately, it's just that - a story. In the second edition of Symbolic Logic, Dodgson writes: "I take this opportunity of giving what publicity I can to my contradiction of a silly story, which has been going the round of the papers, about my having presented certain books to Her Majesty the Queen. It is so constantly repeated, and is such absolute fiction, that I think it worthwhile to state, once for all, that it is utterly false in every particular; nothing even resembling it has ever occurred." .  Different versions of the story name different books - Symbolic Logic, The Condensation of Determinants, Euclid and his Rivals... [And Finally] "'I'll be judge, I'll be jury,'Said cunning old Fury:" is more than a little reminiscent of Fit the Sixth from the Hunting of the Snark: the Barrister's Dream. Herewith, the relevant extract: He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court, Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye, Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig On the charge of deserting its sty. ... But the Judge said he never had summed up before; So the Snark undertook it instead, And summed it so well that it came to far more Than the Witnesses ever had said! When the verdict was called for, the Jury declined, As the word was so puzzling to spell; But they ventured to hope that the Snark wouldn't mind Undertaking that duty as well. -- Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark 'Snark', of course, is probably the greatest piece of nonsense literature ever written; the full text is at [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/carrol02.html