(A Paean to Amalie Emmy Noether)
Raised with three brothers; her father a mathematician
Took to language and math with a brilliant intuition
In 1907, earned a well-deserved PhD ¹
Never earning a salary until 1923 ²
“Warm like a loaf of bread” ³ captured her personality
Noether Boys 4 were the students nicknamed affectionately
The seeds of her brilliance to Bryn Mawr women were sown
“One of the most captivating human beings I’ve ever known.” 5
Symmetries imply that certain quantities are conserved 6
Back then, never gaining the recognition you deserved
Alas, tragedy struck 7 leaving so much work undone
You remain one of mathematic’s greatest heroes unsung. 8
1 But never achieved full professorship
2 When she was appointed “Lecturer of Algebra” at the University of Göttingen
3 Hermann Wyle, a prominent mathematician, describing her demeanor
4 Name given to her students at the University of Göttingen
5 Pavel Alexandrov, Soviet mathematician. “One of the most captivating human beings I have ever known. (Her) career was full of paradoxes, and will always stand as an example of shocking stagnancy and inability to overcome prejudice.”
6 Noether’s Theorem proves this
7 Died from complications from surgery for an ovarian cyst
8 Einstein did later write of her: “Noether was the most significant creative mathematical genius thus far produced since the higher education of women began.”
THE DARK LADY ¹
(A Paean to Rosalind Franklin)
Mind as lucid as the crystals researched
On the cusp of fame you were always perched
Who knew that Photo 51 would lead
To the answer to life’s great mystery:
DNA’s spiraling, helical form
Men were acclaimed, but not a woman born
They received their reward while here on earth
Yours was satisfaction found in your work
If you had only lived longer, Rosalind Franklin!
Haunted by regrets of what might have been
Others advanced our knowledge much further
Standing on the lofty heights of your shoulders ²
¹ I hesitate to use this phrase as the title since it was used rather disparagingly when referring to Rosalind Franklin, but it echoes poetically Shakespeare’s Dark Lady.
² “If I had seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Isaac Newton
“Homer” by Jean-Baptiste August Leloir
Come, O Muse, pour sweet dew upon my tongue
That from these mortal lips honeyed words may flow ¹
So over the years my songs shall still be sung
Like those of ancient bards sung so long ago
Not for fame or wealth destroyed by moth or rust ²
Or hollow praise or false, insincere acclaim
For all such rewards shall crumble into dust
Not forgotten is what I wish for my name —
The sweet ambrosia of immortality
Truly the only treasure I desire
Before death arrives with its finality
Toppling even the greatest empire.
This and this alone shall be my sole reward
If the Muse would bless my song with her accord.
¹ Hesiod, Theogeny, lines 88 – 90
² Matthew 6:19
Night Sky (GettyImages/StockPhoto/den-belitsky
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies declare the work of His hand.”
Night descends upon the earth
Displays her jewels to all below
Stars, long ago, were given birth
Their faint light to us console.
The Moon ascends to claim her throne
Attended by the Pleiades
Night is hers to rule alone
No other starry rivalries
While Orion stands silent guard
With bright Venus, her crowning gem
Below, with lyre, sits a bard
Softly singing his humble hymn
Compared to this magnificence
As we live our mundane lives
What is our significance
As heaven towards His glory strives?
“For whom does the wood thrush sing”
A BLAKEAN INQUISITION
For whom does the spry wood thrush sing
In the early hours of the dawn?
To mark its turf or call a mate.
But who has gifted it with song?
Why does the industrious bee
Gather pollen from yonder hill?
To produce honey for the hive.
But who taught it this unique skill?
What is a man or a woman
That together in love do grow?
Procreation and child-rearing.
But who ordained that this be so?
Why do poets oft sing of love
Of eternal truth and beauty?
These are common themes in one’s youth.
But who charged them with this duty?
“Let me be laid to rest beneath a hawthorn tree.”
Let no towering monument be left behind
No building stand with name proudly carved upon it
Or a pilgrim’s shrine for those devout to visit
For all will decay and turn to dust with time.
Let there be no songs sung sweetly in remembrance
No voices droning in eloquent praise each year
That fondly speak how cherished, noble, loved, or dear
For each voice shall one day too join with the silence.
Let me be laid to rest beneath a hawthorn tree
Let its flowering springtime blossoms serve as proof
That I had lived of life of beauty and of truth
But most of all, I had truly loved sincerely.
BLOOMED THE ROSE THAT NOW DECAYS
Bloomed the rose that now decays
Fled the vibrant days of youth
All joys in a month of Mays
Gone the days of love and truth.
Soon the eye will dim and fade
Ear grow duller – faint the sound
The life lived is what is made
In the end, no victor’s crown.
Years have fallen like the leaves
Scattered on the faded grass
Gray the lustrous hair now weaves
Soon the soul from this world pass.
Laid this shell to quiet rest
In the bosom of the earth
Never life again addressed –
Destined from the time of birth.
Four Am – the sullen patter of rain
Insistent against the window dark
Awakening from dreamless sleep’s domain
To harsh reality – cold and stark
With heavy heart aching with grief and tears
What sweetly began has ended in remorse
Wells up the insecurities, doubts, and fears
Uncertain if it’s for better or for worse
Or if it was all in error – done in haste
What might have been – all the possibilities . . .
Regret and loss the bitter aftertaste
For what is and was never meant to be.
Posted in literature, Poetry
“Nocturnal Moon” Granville Redmond, 1911
Bright Moon mirrored on the placid pond
All is bathed in a silvery light
Croaks the lusty frog beneath its frond
Chirps the forlorn cricket’s lonely plight
The sullen owl with its hoots does bade
Night to come bringing its enchantments
Fireflies flicker in a tranquil glade
Caterpillars sleep in silken tents
Foxes come out to prance and frolic
O’er his flock sits the shepherd idly
In this nocturnal scene bucolic
Plays his plaintive tune on oaten reed.