Stanislaw Lem – In Poetry

I came across this excellent poem written by Stanislaw Lem today.

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 our scalars is defined!
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 a2 cos 2 phi

Originally written by Lem in Polish and translated by Michael Kandel (who also translated several of his other stories). The translation makes you think that it might have been written in English.

One comment on “Stanislaw Lem – In Poetry

  1. , Sturgeon and Bester could’ve made it for him, or writers like Fredrik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth), but you have to rebmemer lots of childish and awkward SF has been written all the time the genre has been in existence. So, if Chandler has grabbed a pulp mag in the early fifties and for some reason gone for a wrong one, that was aimed for juvenile markets (this is an important issue when we talk about pulp mags: some of them were for adults, some for juveniles), and met some of that stuff he describes he may’ve thought nothing has happened. Quick googling, by the way, reveals I rebmemered wrong. “Professor Bingo’s Snuff” was first published in something called Park East Magazine, in 1951. I must’ve been thinking about “The Bronze Door”, and indeed that was published in Unknown, but already in 1939, so it could’ve been something like Chandler’s answer to the cheesy SF he encountered in some of the worse pulp magazines. And as to your question, when did SF grow mature? It was mature the day it was born – you have to rebmemer SF isn’t all about pulp. There’s for example E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops (or something to that effect), from 1909, which seems like it prophecied the internet and people sitting alone staring at their computers. You also rebmemer H.G. Wells’s many SF novels, like The Time Machine. That’s mature SF. The pulp SF got more mature in the 1940’s, with writers like Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. And more mature – too mature, some say – it got with the 1960’s New Wave and writers like Michael Moorcock and J.G. Ballard. Satisfied now? I could go on about SF writers who also wrote crime, such as Fredrik Pohl, Jack Vance (who also got an Edgar), C.M. Kornbluth, Barry Malzberg, et al., but I gotta go make some late dinner for me and my wife. 😉

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