In Praise of Poetry…and James Bond!

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It was joyful to see that Omar Khayyam was the Google Doodle feature of the day recently. (Thanks Raouf for sending!)

A ruba’i that made a deep impression on me when I was a teenager is stanza XXIII from The Ruba’iyat Of Omar Khayyam:

Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend,

Before we too into the Dust descend;

Dust into Dust, and under Dust, to lie,

Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and — sans End.

And also this one (stanza XXXII):

There was a Door to which I found no Key:

There was a Veil past which I could not see:

Some little Talk awhile of ME and THEE

There seem’d — and then no more of THEE and ME.

Indeed, I like Omar Khayyam so much that I could not resist mentioning him in our expository article on algebraic geometry and quantum computing:

Algebra, which is derived from the Arabic word meaning completion or “reunion of broken parts”, reached a new high watermark during the golden age of Islamic mathematics around 10th Century AD. For example, Omar Khayyam (of the Rubaiyat fame) solved cubic equations.

This invited article is to appear in a special issue of Science and Culture, a periodical from the Indian Science News Association, formed in 1935, with an objective to disseminate science news as well as the reflection of the community of Indian scientists and thinkers for public understanding of science and culture together.

Previous contributors include luminaries such as Satyendra Nath Bose, Arthur Eddington, R. A. Millikan, Amartya Sen, and, to my complete surprise, (Netaji) Subhas Chandra Bose!

Nowhere in my wildest imagination would I have ever thought I would publish in the same journal as Subhas Chandra Bose! That is something.

Shakespeare said it best (from Hamlet):

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. 

Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister, was also a supporter of this Journal:

Science and Culture are the essence of life today, in war and peace, and any periodical which serves the cause of science and culture performs a service to India and humanity.

Something not adequately recognized as having provided service to humanity, pushing the limits of science and technology (through the Q-Branch!), although they have not yet exploited quantum phenomenon (unlike the Avengers series), are James Bond movies. 😏

Recently, the following lines from Hymn to Sean Connery, from the poem (by Amit Majmudar) James Bond Suite, brought me similar joy as when I had first read Omar Khayyam 😊:

Connery, how did I end up

A double o thirty-year-old

Father of two

I am over fifty years old 😒, but Amit Majmudar I suppose was only thirty when he wrote this poem!

He continues:

Connery, before the baccarat, you, too,

Held earthly burdens, earthly offices—

Bricklayer, coffin polisher, milkman;

Connery, eternal bachelor, may I, too,

Someday unzip this mortal scuba suit

And reveal the tuxedo beneath.

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