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Vivien's Song
by
Robert Fuller Murray


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At the L.L.A. Examination


In Algebra, if Algebra be ours,
x and x^2 can ne'er be equal powers,
Unless x=1, or none at all.

It is the little error in the sum,
That by and by will make the answer come
To something queer, or else not come at all.

The little error in the easy sum,
The little slit across the kettle-drum,
That makes the instrument not play at all.

It is not worth correcting: let it go:
But shall I?    Answer, Prudence, answer, no.
And bid me do it right or not at all.


This poem is in the public domain.

 

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Robert Fuller Murray (1863–1894), was born in America but lived most of his life in Scotland, where he worked as a research assistant and journalist. Robert wrote two collections of poetry, one published prior to his death, the other afterwards.

 


Post New Comment:
Katrina:
Algebra (from Arabic الجبر/ الجابر meaning"reunion of broken parts") The 'little error of the sum' reminds me of Shakespeare's 'error of the moon', which I have always thought men should not be expected to understand.
Posted 12/08/2015 03:00 AM
rhonasheridan:
I remember algebra with horror! Liked the poem though!
Posted 12/08/2015 01:45 AM
Dorcas:
Summarily speaking did you pass the course?
Posted 12/05/2015 01:30 PM
paradea:
I'm with you, jeeger! All true!!
Posted 12/05/2015 08:54 AM
jeeger:
...the little slit across the kettle drum said it all for me. Awesome.
Posted 12/05/2015 07:52 AM
phebe.davidson@gmail.com:
Oh my goodness, as my grandmother (who taught math) would have said . . . I really identify with this one! that inescapable connivance of one thing with another that had been viewed, too long, as quite different!
Posted 12/05/2015 06:18 AM


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