Rodica Simion: Immigrant Complex

Rodica Simion immigrated to the United States from Romania. She was a Professor of Mathematices at George Washington University untill her untimely death on January 7, 2000. Her poem  “Immigrant complex” appeared in : “Against Infinity”, An Anthology of Contemporary Mathematical Poetry, edited by Ernest Robson and Jet Wimp, 1979, p. 66. Published by Primary Press, Parker Ford, PA, and Jet Wimp, Drexel University.


I have a
complex
not simplicial (it is-in fact-
involved)
not a cell-complex
(my cells are
fine)
not a CW

complex
(I have no com-
plexion no weight
problems)

it is a
language
complex

my thinking is of
class C-one even
C-infinity

it does not matter:
my speech
approximates it by
linear functions
only
my talk (being merely
polygonal) wastes
my
C-n (n  > > 0)
mind


A painting drawn by Rodica Simion 
to celebrate the appearance of Richard Stanley's book:
 "Enumerative Combinatorics II."
Doron Zeilberger's article on Rodica can be found here.
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4 Responses to Rodica Simion: Immigrant Complex

  1. Hate the fad around mathetical and scientific poetry. I’m a big fan of feynman, but I hardly think that the poems Feynman wrote were enjoyable..

    Mathematics can be beautiful, but it doesn’t need to be poetically beautiful.. Why the hell try to take mathematics or physics something else.. why don’t you just let maths and physics be the way they are? Is it an identity cricis or some sort of insecurity that some physicists or mathematicians suffer from?

    Anyway, enough of rant. I leave you to enjoy the worst poem ever written:
    The Tay Bridge Disaster

    Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay!
    Alas! I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

    ‘Twas about seven o’clock at night,
    And the wind it blew with all its might,
    And the rain came pouring down,
    And the dark clouds seem’d to frown,
    And the Demon of the air seem’d to say-
    “I’ll blow down the Bridge of Tay.”

    When the train left Edinburgh
    The passengers’ hearts were light and felt no sorrow,
    But Boreas blew a terrific gale,
    Which made their hearts for to quail,
    And many of the passengers with fear did say-
    “I hope God will send us safe across the Bridge of Tay.”

    But when the train came near to Wormit Bay,
    Boreas he did loud and angry bray,
    And shook the central girders of the Bridge of Tay
    On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

    So the train sped on with all its might,
    And Bonnie Dundee soon hove in sight,
    And the passengers’ hearts felt light,
    Thinking they would enjoy themselves on the New Year,
    With their friends at home they lov’d most dear,
    And wish them all a happy New Year.

    So the train mov’d slowly along the Bridge of Tay,
    Until it was about midway,
    Then the central girders with a crash gave way,
    And down went the train and passengers into the Tay!
    The Storm Fiend did loudly bray,
    Because ninety lives had been taken away,
    On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

    As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
    The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
    And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
    Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down,
    And a passenger train from Edinburgh,
    Which fill’d all the peoples hearts with sorrow,
    And made them for to turn pale,
    Because none of the passengers were sav’d to tell the tale
    How the disaster happen’d on the last Sabbath day of 1879,
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time.

    It must have been an awful sight,
    To witness in the dusky moonlight,
    While the Storm Fiend did laugh, and angry did bray,
    Along the Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
    Oh! ill-fated Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay,
    I must now conclude my lay
    By telling the world fearlessly without the least dismay,
    That your central girders would not have given way,
    At least many sensible men do say,
    Had they been supported on each side with buttresses,
    At least many sensible men confesses,
    For the stronger we our houses do build,
    The less chance we have of being killed.

  2. Max Suica says:

    Aw c’mon! Are you serious?
    Mathematician’s can’t be poets?
    Can’t kill the dreary use of language proper?
    All because they’ve dedicated their lives to equations and sets
    Instead of love’s tenous embrace
    and imagined facial expressions of flowers?

    Pah!
    You’re full of it!
    Poetry is not so easily constrained as you might imagine!

    There is no Identity that says, “You! you are poet” to one person
    then turns to another to say, “You! you are mathematician”

    And so what if her meter is terrible, and hurts your ears to hear?
    Who are you to try to rob a dead woman of her poetry?
    She was honest and wrote about what moved her soul
    She was a poet simply because she chose to be
    And so let her (and Richard) at least rest in peace

    No, don’t imagine that you or any living thing
    can restrict the domains of poetry
    Not at all

    And certainly not with a bad poem about a faulty girder!

  3. > Mathematician’s can’t be poets?
    Never said that

    > Poetry is not so easily constrained as you might imagine!
    Sometimes, beyond the constraints, it ceases to be enjoyable to many.

    > And so what if her meter is terrible, and hurts your ears to hear?
    As I said, it ceases to be enjoyable (I may add – for caution – for many).

    > Who are you to try to rob a dead woman of her poetry?
    I didn’t rob her of her poetry. The poem exists, and no one can change that. I just said that I didn’t like it.

    > And so let her (and Richard) at least rest in peace
    Amen

    > No, don’t imagine that you or any living thing
    > can restrict the domains of poetry
    Nay, I certainly didn’t ever imagine that.

    > And certainly not with a bad poem about a faulty girder!
    Come on, honestly, don’t you think he rather over-did that. He was precise, I give it to him, but precision isn’t the only thing that makes a poem enjoyable.

  4. Nick says:

    This reminds me a great deal of Nabokov’s Pnin. Required reading for anyone interested in the “immigrant complex”. And for everyone else, for that matter.

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