Poetry On Odyssey: Calculus
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Poetry On Odyssey: Calculus

'Tis a perilous quest. Beware.

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Poetry On Odyssey: Calculus
Evangeline Schmitt

One morning my calculus teacher had enough of the blank stares. Shaking his head, he made a speech about how disappointed in us he was, were we even trying and could we engage just a little bit in the content?

So I did. I engaged that very day by scribbling a poem in the margins of my homework, inspired by an integral volume problem. Probably not the engagement my teacher had in mind, true, but don’t be disgusted, Mr. S. Up until calculus, math had mostly bored me — it was in your class that I saw beauty.


Calculus.

A perilous quest.

Carry out carefully:

Keep faith with derivatives.

Be gentle with integrals.

Do not flirt with algebra, be honest and firm.

I don’t guarantee,

You may still end in ruin.

Or barely survive and

be bitter thereafter.

But possibly,

after you’ve bled and you’ve labored,

if you keep your eyes open,

and the sun god smiles,

then a glimpse may be granted.

You see the strange beauty:

Space between functions, spinning and spinning

Lines of infinity, soaring forever.

Movement and art,

precision and order.

Truth you can build with, climb with, fly with!

—You may go home now,

Your task is completed.

Return to your own land,

Worn but triumphant.

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