Paul Hartal


Oranges and Grapes


Oranges and grapes refuse to grow in the cold.
Today I sing and dance, refuse to grow old.
Yet all the same, time is tyrant and ruthless,
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Poet's Notes about The Poem

This poem consists of three quatrains and a couplet in fourteen lines. A sonnet in four stanzas, it follows a rhyme scheme of aabb, ccdd, eeaa, and ff.

The word sonnet is synonymous with quatorzain, or fourteener. The 13th century Sicilian poet Giacomo da Lantini is credited as the inventor of this verse form. This genre of poetry has been popular throughout history. The names of the Italian poets Petrarch, Dante and Michelangelo are associated with the sonnet. And so is Shakespeare in England, who composed 154 sonnets, mostly in iambic pentameters.

The poem “Oranges and Grapes” forms part of the Poetry and Mathematics project implemented at Dalhousie University, Halifax. The sonnet opens the door for interdisciplinary explorations, because, among other things, it is structured in 14 lines. Number theorists point out that 14 is a composite number, its divisors being 1,2,7, and 14. It is also the sum of the first three squares (1^2 + 2^2 +3^2) and thus a square pyramidical number. Furthermore, the number 14 is associated with the polyhedron cuboctahedron, the truncated cube and the truncated octahedron, since each of these geometrical solids feature 14 faces. Another attribute of 14 links this number to Euler’s totient function.

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