I was a teenager, James R. Newman’s The World of Mathematics seemed
the perfect guide to, well, the world of mathematics. The day I purchased the
four hardbound blue volumes in their heavy cardboard slipcase from the
department store remainder table was a very significant one in my life.
Mathematics, however, turned out to be more complicated.
Written November 12, 1996, this was, I
think, the first poem I wrote as an adult. I revised it slightly on
March 4, 2001, and, in a fit of artistic embarrassment, did a major
rewrite on June 17, 2003. The original was clumsy and pretentious. The
current version is less self-consciously “poetic,” the result
of my having learned a few lessons from writing poetry over the
last decade. The reader can decide for himself whether I should
schedule another rewrite a few years hence, when, it is to be hoped, I
know even more about writing poetry.
— LED, 9/28/2005