The Ballad of Lady Mathematica

There was a maiden lady named Mathematica Woe,
who slept with soft pillow onto which thetas she did sew;
whose soft blonde hair, ornamented with twink’ling golden stars,
fell down her back, cascaded like the waterfalls of Mars.


She wore a cloak encrusted with her signs of love and grace,
golden quadratic functions, lined with lovely precious lace.

On sines and squares and sinusoids, this lady, she was keen,
and spent her days reclining with median, mode, and mean.


There came upon clear dark eve from underneath her window bright
a ukulele playing, and a call of “Hold me tight!”

Although open the window thus she did, yet, as she feared,
none looked upwards but Monsieur Mann, smooth face of little years.


“ ‘Tis none but you!” she stuttered, stately grieving, thus, in turn,
crying “Leave now, you wretched fiend! From this part, now adjourn!

For hope to find one true who stood beneath my window bright
has turned to hate at finding one so foolish and so light!”


Monsieur Mann only laughed and shook his head at her protests.

“Come down,” said he, “and give this lad a kiss so he may rest.

That you know I have struggled, I am sure, journeyed the land,
to ask that you would wed me. Then I’ll be a happy man.”


Now came the lady’s well-timed turn to scoff at docile gent.

From out window she leaned, and down to him there spread rose scent.

Her lips she parted, for with vicious protest she did try
to make a fool of this man, his bland ideas to defy.


“Come now, do not jest. For how can you and I ever be
in everlasting bond? You, you are no Archimedes.

For I am important, and use numbers like e and π,

While you dabble in matters too tiny for eye to spy.”


“Ho ho!” cried Monsieur, grinning though he thought her words a whine.

“I see you hold no respect for these interests of mine.

I mean those things not quite exactly there, not seen, not heard,
things not as easily picked up as Archimedes’ words.”


“Do not imply that foolish things like emotional states
have any of the importance of true numerical rates,
or proofs or graphs or old addition plain. Sir, please refrain
from elevating nothing to a higher, wider plane.”


“For math is all, and else is none, and that is my belief,
seen in the stars, the universe itself, the auburn leaf,
the human form and all these other shapes of points and lines,
beautiful in their geometry of defining kind.”


Monsieur Mann, hands extended, shook his great head to and fro,
asking, “Do you see how much you speak in rhymes, even so?

Your speech is eloquent, no man would ever dare deny.

Yet I think you’ll agree you speak no platitudes with π.”


“My dear, you speak a defense great with words, not digits, no,
but words, pure words, which you shape like soft clay as you do go,
spewing at me remarks upon your subject, held most dear
to your heart, not because of tangent, but true love, I fear.”


“If only you would learn to love me so, we in marriage
could live, and still remain loyal, as a horse to a carriage,

to our interests, math and humanities, and even share.

My dear, then we would be enriched, no more just half a pair!”


She turned away, at this moment, at least that’s what I’m told.

She turned away—yes, turned away—but found no protests bold.

She thought, “Though I love math, it’s not the only book in town.

Literature, and history, and art can be profound.”


But then she thought, “I cannot bend to this man’s stupid whim.

The knowledge he retains, compared with mine, emerges dim.

The queen I am, the fool he is, no matter how he thinks;
for he is dull while I am sharp like old Egyptian sphinx.”


She turned to him, and shouted, “I can never marry you!

For can’t you see, I’m wed to him, to Math, my husband true?

More morals I possess, than you give me credit to own,
for I would never leave my husband for your ugly home!”

Seeing that he had failed and in dismay frowning sadly,
Monsieur Mann, he grimly took up his old ukulele,
and began to retrace his steps back through his path, dismayed,
thinking to himself that a mistake she made today.


“For she will know, when finally she grows tired of sines,
that she needs me, in order that she may have profound rhymes.

But I’ll never return, since she right now seems so inclined
to ban me forever from her home, from heart and from mind.”


And meanwhile, back in tower of blue, under red sun,
Lady Mathematica, her calculations all done,
said to herself to justify her actions of the day,
“There is nothing as important as reason and Math’s way.”


Standing, growing confident with each moment he was gone,
she said, for all the world to hear, “I never shall be wrong!

My beliefs on dominance of math I’ll never let go,
never leave them, for I am the Mathematica Woe!”

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