Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Poem

Art and Environment
Edward Hessler

This Friday, a lovely poem by Gail Mazur. However, it is so close to the new year I must add another. After the clock strikes midnight on December 31 here is a poem to start the year.

New Year’s Day—
everything is in blossom!
I feel about average.

—Kobayashi Issa

I am likely to read it earlier in the evening well before the bewitching hour. By the way, this well known poem, one I never tire of reading, was originally called "The Century's End, 1900." And for information about the poet see here.

However, don't forget to add a leap second before you read the poem.

[Wikimedia Commons]

There is a wonderful entry in An Almanac for Moderns by Donald Culross Peattie who, in the year he wrote the essay was up at midnight, but in a much more indolent mood than the scientist he describes. It was the habit of this professor at the University of Gottingen to sit down at his work desk at midnight and begin work.

It is easy to read into this description and I do this regularly. The university and city were very integrated and the narrow winding streets of the city had homes, business and university lecture halls mixed together. Perhaps he walked from home to office-laboratory-atelier in light snow (my hope), alone in the dark.

The University of Gottingen was known in Europe and the United States for its many celebrated departments and professors in the first part of the last century although mathematics was the master discipline blurring the boundaries between pure mathematics, applied mathematics and the sciences. Three of those disciplines are are part of STEM education: science, mathematics and engineering.

The stance of the Issa haiku is one of humility.  Humility in the face of what we know, think we know and want to know is a good thing, I think!

Minnesotans are fond of saying interesting, a word with many meanings.  The new year promises to be very interesting but I hope it is a happy one for you.

Happy New Year!

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