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Poetic words that count

By Nathan Omprasadham and Nimal de Silva

What do mathematics and poetry have in common? Emotions are portrayed through poetry while mathematicians grapple with abstractness. But both mathematics and poetry seem to be searching for hidden patterns which ultimately ends up with beauty.

Nathan Omprasadham, who is an IB Diploma Programme (DP) student of the Overseas School of Colombo has shown that mathematics and poetry exist in cooperation rather than competition through a poem that he composed as a submission of an artistic portfolio for his College application process. He has linked his appreciation for mathematics with his love for poetry through these poetic words titled ‘Non-Cartesian’.

It’d be easier if we were data points
Just functions on a graph
So I could plot our intersections
every time we cry or laugh

Because you can trust equations
And I could find our intercepts
And we wouldn’t have to live in fear
of that which happens next

Because when I ask you for your sine
You know it’s more than fun
The answer must be Pi/2
because you are the 1

I’d rather we were lines
So I don’t hear your intonations
I’d just calculate your slope
And I can find out correlation

See maybe we run in parallel
Sweet and salty like caramel
not that you would care at all
No, you wouldn’t even bother
Because we’d never get any closer
But we’d never move any farther
We’d just spend our whole existence
With a love that’s non repleat
Never sad because we’ll never know
That we will never meet

Or maybe we’re perpendicular
This scares me in particular
Because it means we travelled infinity
Never knowing that we exist
Till the day that our momentum
Causes us to intersect
And then there’s this one amazing moment
Beyond anger hate or pain
And then that moments over
and we never meet again

Or maybe you’re my asymptote
and Zenos better beware
We spend our whole lives getting closer
But I’m never really there
And though our distance seems inconsequential
Like it’s really nothing much
We could be muscle to muscle
but we’ll never really touch

Or maybe we’re just parabolas
arching over this terrain
such comfort in our curvature
there’s no need for refrain
And as I watch you slope
Maybe I’ll work up the nerve
To ask your permission to differentiate
Lay tangent to your curves

See I’d rather we don’t feud again
that you’re not in that mood again
that we don’t have to think about
everything that we should have been
don’t put ourselves on mute again
and we can see the beauty in
that fact that
our geometry’s non Euclidean

See maybe our love is biblical
and maybe it’s Ephesian
maybe we’re more than data points
maybe we’re non-Cartesian

While mathematicians find beauty with the elegance of a proof, poets may see beauty in the gracefulness of the poem. It was Einstein who said “Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.”

Nimal de Silva is in the mathematics department of the Overseas School of Colombo.