For months I had been "grinding" Mathematics day and night
When Miss McGirton cast on my affections such a blight;
My mind unhinged now only creaks, and when I tell my woes
I'm forced to lisp in numbers what I'd rather say in prose.
Sweet maiden perpendicular! She gave a slanting sigh
As o'er my kneeling form she cast a calculating eye.
"Ah! well" said I, "you cipher me, for if you'll not be mine
From out this pocket next my heart I'll straight produce a line;
So ere you are, dear Polly, gone, pray heed your lover's vow,
Or he dangles at right angles to some horizontal bough."
The maid flew in no frustrum—like your giddy gushing girls—
But standing calm and frigid, shook her strictly spiral curls,
And said, "You see we're equal as to station: very well!
Our paths in life could never meet, because they're parallel."
Her voice was so serrated that I fled this maid antique;
Then, approaching her obliquely, at a tangent took her cheek!
The kiss was too elliptical! She vanished into space!
And a circulating obelisk now marks the fatal place.
Weeks fled. My doctor shook his head and said, "You must embark
For an utter change." I did: and went aboard a leaky Arc
Bound for the hot Quadratics, where I landed for a week,
And joined the aborigines in every savage freak.
I felled primeval forests with the axes of a cube,
At the feathery Parabolas I aimed the loaded tube;
(For while aboard the Arc, you see, I found on deck a gun,
And, cunning as a Crusoe, put it by for future fun.)
While safe within some brackets I have watched those bulky brutes,
The snorting Parallelograms that feed upon square roots;
Their noise would rouse the forest till each denizen therein
Woke up and did its "level best" to swell the horrid din.
Oh! the shrieking of the Cylinder! the Pyramid's base moan,
The clucking of the Sector and the cooing of the Cone!
Then a lull perhaps, while distant ululations would reveal
The natives chanting grace before their missionary meal.
In truth it was an evil place, for a Vinculum might rise
At any moment in your path and wobble its wild eyes;
And oft, when looking for a log I'd shake in ev'ry joint
For fear some deadly Decimal might sting me with its point.
At last I plucked up courage, though, and even gained renown
In getting gallant trophies for my home in Camden Town:
I killed the cruel Quatrefoil to take her snarling cub,
Or doubled up a cannibal to get his graven club;
I trapped the roaring Rhombuses, those beasts of fearful strength,
And the Parallelopipedon, a snake of awful length;
Oft I bestrode the Algebra and charged in wild career
The proud opaque Hypotenuse and jabbed him with my spear.
'Tis past! I'm now in London: yet my reason's all awry.
I'm yearning for a vanished maid who gave a slanting sigh.
Nor may we meet in Dreamland: e'en there I'm robbed of rest,
For a wizened old Trapezium sits sulking on my chest;
Or two triangles she jangles with a semilunar leer,
Till I wake—with hair erect—in one diagonal of fear!
And mark to the clang of symbols, phantom figures march all day
In co-efficient cohorts—Major Axis leads the way.
In short, from early morn until I shuffle off to bed,
But one equation's clear to me,—o=ayz.