Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, April 7, 2008

Perelman's Beard

"It is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be a reason the more for us to do it."
-Rainer Maria Rilke

Russian mathematician Grigori Perelman was recognised in 2006 as having solved the century-old Poincaré Conjecture. I could not but notice that each reference to the fellow spoke of his appearance and his societal habits. Particularly irksome and beyond most people's comprehension was the fact that Perelman declined to accept a prestigious award.
Considering the significance of his discovery, I considered his personal matters to be trivial, and soon afterward wrote a poem that resonated about solitude, and about accepting people for who they are and what they contribute.

Perelman's Beard

Years to solve the problem Poincare posed:
And the first things that the newsmen noted
(Never being ones to sugar coat it)
Was his being a Bearded Russian Recluse
Who lived jobless with his mother
avoided limelight, praise, and being quoted;
had the gall, this Bearded Mystery,
The nerve, audacity and discretion
To shy away from worldly glory; politely trying
To shun the fruits of his profession.
Not the first in Mathematical History
To retreat from hawkish human prying.
Years to solve the problem Poincare posed
And I'm still uncertain about Perelman's solution,
Papers mentioning little beyond his bearded self.
The way they prattle on, I just can't shake the notion
That his beard had something to do with solving it.



Pappy said...

Very nicely done. You are a gifted poet.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Thank you. That's much appreciated. I'll head over to your blog in a moment to see what the day brings!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

thanks for insightful and witty poem.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

As always, thank you very much. I do try ;)

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