Evariste Galois - Poem by Diane Hine
A duel, only mist will intervene,
Two men, a line of numbers span between,
The field in which they stand, a complex plane;
Which algebraic equations set this scene?
Not twenty-one, a headstrong youth in vain
Would rather give his life than bear a stain;
A thwarted love and challenge made in haste,
A brilliant, yet impulse blighted brain.
A medley of misfortune interlaced:
Political connivance might be traced,
Collegiate cold shoulders, bookish blots,
A father who could never be replaced.
Equations can be solvable or not,
Republicans can fall in twisted plots,
Solutions can be simple or obscure,
A genius can die by pistol shot.
Poisson, Lacroix: professors who adjure
His papers are unclear and premature
Cannot be blamed they incorrectly found
The fractious innovator immature.
In maths, his rationality was sound;
In life his levelheadedness unwound.
From rational and real one may abscond
To meddle in complexities unbound.
Unsolvable are quintics and beyond,
Unsolvable, the academic monde;
Revolt can soothe a young man’s fitful zeal:
A uniform, a sword, an aim au fond.
In prison, bile and alcohol congeal,
Annihilation tempts through sharpened steel.
Subdued, and sent to a convalescent home,
he’ll meet the doctor’s daughter; fair, genteel.
Spurned suitors see a world in monochrome;
Hot-headed anger roils in mouthy foam.
A duel sought, the night before he'll write
Six pages more incisive than a tome.
A letter scribbled swift by candlelight,
A theory, clarified, distilled, airtight,
The final written words, ‘I have no time',
Before the dawn's mad gentlemanly rite.
The mind would shatter static paradigm
Yet willingly succumb to pantomime.
The rings and groups all serve to multiply
Enigmas which surround ignoble crime.
When higher order problems won't comply
The radical solution is to die,
And in a field asymmetries convene
And answers in the form of lead balls fly.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
25 Oct 1811 - 31 May 1832
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