Can you tell whether these quotations are about mathematics or poetry?
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Thanks to JoAnne Growney for the idea for this quiz. I based it on a post from her math poetry blog, which was in turn based on a 1992 article she wrote for the American Mathematical Monthly (page 131 of the February 1992 issue). Growney’s blog has helped me discover scores of interesting and poignant poems that incorporate mathematics in some way. Currently I’m rather fixated on “A contribution to statistics” by Wisława Szymborska.
While I was putting the quiz together, I had a lot of fun swapping the words mathematics and poetry in famous quotations about both subjects. Some of them were funny, and some of them made me think about both fields in ways I hadn’t before. It's interesting to me how many similarities there are in the way mathematicians and poets approach their crafts.
There were way too many good quotes to put them all in the quiz. My favorite quote that didn’t quite make the cut:
“The [poets? mathematicians?] have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”—G.K. Chesterton.