Monday, March 10, 2008

Poe, E.: Near a Raven - "Poe"-tic Justice and a Tribute to Pi and Mike Keith

To kick off Pi Week, I cannot ignore the most famous Pi Poem I have ever read - Mike Keith's web site is worth visiting. He is a unique and talented individual who has written several excellent books. On his home page, he refers to his creations as "mostly original diversions in mathematics and word play." I agree!

Here are the first couple of verses of his poem (he refers to the style as constrained writing) he wrote over a dozen years ago. Again, go here to see the entire opus! I'm sure most of you are thoroughly familiar with this, but it's always worth seeing it again. If you're not familiar with the code beneath this, just count the number of letters in each word, starting with the title:

Poe, E.
Near a Raven

Midnights so dreary, tired and weary.
Silently pondering volumes extolling all by-now obsolete lore.
During my rather long nap - the weirdest tap!
An ominous vibrating sound disturbing my chamber's antedoor.
"This", I whispered quietly, "I ignore".

Perfectly, the intellect remembers: the ghostly fires, a glittering ember.
Inflamed by lightning's outbursts, windows cast penumbras upon this floor.
Sorrowful, as one mistreated, unhappy thoughts I heeded:
That inimitable lesson in elegance - Lenore -
Is delighting, exciting...nevermore.


My 2nd favorite Pi-Poem is from Liz:
She has an excellent website -visit it!
Here is an excerpt of her ode to π:

Why, π! Stop, π! Weird anomalies do behave badly!
You, madly conjured, imperfect, strange, numerical,
Why do you maintain this facade?
In finite time you are barbaric!
You do wonders, mesmerize minds!


You may want to start your own Pi Poem contest this week, although this idea is coming very late. Somewhere out there is a hidden talent, perhaps another genius like Mr. Keith.
If you do this, please share some of your favorites with MathNotations....


Anonymous said...

Mike Keith's web site has moved to

You might want to fix the link at the top of this article.

Dave Marain said...

Thanks Anon! I fixed it - I hope...