In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I would like to share Stanislaw Lem’s hilarious “Love and Tensor Algebra,” a love poem in the language of pure mathematics from Lem’s acclaimed collection of satirical and philosophical tales, The Cyberiad: Fables from the Cybernetic Age.
Love and Tensor Algebra
by Stanislaw Lem
Come, let us hasten to a higher plane
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!
Come, every frustum longs to be a cone
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.
In Riemann, Hilbert or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.
I’ll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou’lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love’s lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.
For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Boole or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?
Cancel me not – for what then shall remain?
Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.
Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
the product of four scalars it defines!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.
I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such a^2 cos 2 phi!