Fascinating--and wonderful,
Thanks.
May I quote if I write on that again?
N

Nancy don’t make too much over “reference frames”.  Poets do it all the time.  It is in the second stanza where the poet clearly invokes Einstein.

Think of reference frames as three dimensioned (actually 4 dimensioned when including a clock) places or containers (with rulers and clocks) where something happens.  Einstein’s favorites were a moving railroad car and a train station.  He had someone in the moving car observing what was happening inside the car and someone in the station also observing what was happening in the car.  He used this to demonstrate that simultaneous observation was a fiction and that the speed of light was unaffected by the speed of the railroad car.

MacDiarmid in the very first line has the poet in one place observing a lass in clearly another place.  Unlike Einstein who defines his “place” quite exactly the poet doesn’t.  The lass is singing to a child that is in a another reference frame to her and the poet.

In the second stanza the poet makes clear reference to Einstein’s “General  Theory of Relativity.  In writing about the first stanza I was referring to Einstein’s use of reference frames in his “Special Theory”.  In the second stanza the poet alludes to the “General Theory” when he writes of light bending around something and not being reflected by it.   The “Special Theory” is concerned with the speed of light as a universe constant regardless of the uniform motion of a reference frame.  The “General Theory” is concerned with gravity and, by the way, is where Einstein corrects Newton.  The Apple didn’t fall quite like Newton thought.  The “General Theory” predicts that light will appear to be bent as it passes a massive object like a star.  Actually it is space/time itself that is bent by the massive object and light follows the bend.   Light in the poet’s last reference frame is bent by the head of the lass who is in another reference frame to the poet.

Dear Richard,

Here is the entire poem. I would love it if you explain more about how the various reference frames are involved and what MacDiarmid may be referencing. (I"m embarrassed that my spelling was off, since I have known this poem for decades. AND I even misquoted and did not see it. Alas. But I would love more on it.

Empty Vessel by Hugh MacDiarmid
 I met ayont the cairneyA lass wi tousie hairSingin till a bairnieThat was nae langer there. beyondtangled Wunds wi warlds to swingDinna sing sae sweet,The licht that bends owre aa thingIs less ta’en up wi’it.

Yes.   MacDiarmid seems to be writing about things in separate reference frames.  Special relativity is all about the relationships of the speed of light in various reference frames.

Interestingly, as all know, the speed of light is a constant whatever reference frame is used.  How is this?  Well, time is NOT a constant but varies.  This makes reading Eliot especially interesting.  “Time present and time past”

Dear Richard,

Thanks, that was my point. There is no conflict between math and poetry, quite the opposite. If it sounded as if I meant anything other, I didn't write it clearly.
Anyway, I'm sure calculus students could coexist beautifully with Eliot.

There is a MacDiarmid poem that has a very mysterious ending, and a scientist once wrote to me that he must have recently read Einstein. The last lines are as follows:

Wunds wi' worlds to swing
Dinnae sing so sweet.
The lift that hangs oer a' thing,
Is less ta'en up wi'it.

That is from memory. But "wunds" is "winds"; 'Dinnae " is "did not"; "lift" is the sky; and "ta'en" is "taken."

Does that have some resonance you see with science?
Nancy
P. S. MacDiarmid wrote many late poems he called poems of fact and they have a lot of science. The most magnificent is probably "On a Raised Beach."

Nancy

I have taken plenty of calculus and without it would not be able to study, or better yet try to learn, quantum field theory.

I also study poetry.

As I believe Eliot, or was it Pound, once said and I paraphrase, metrics are everything.

Einstein played a decent violin and wrote a book explaining special relativity using one equation.  That equation uses only algebra.

Richard Feynman (won the Nobel in 1965 and originated the theory of quantum electrodynamics) played bongo drums at a near professional level and linked quantum mechanics to special relativity.

I would like to think calculus students can also love poetry and philosophy. And poets can love math and science.
Think of the Metaphysicsls.

I don't see any reason to see Eliot as more reflective than other poet.

By calculus students, yes.

CR

Summing infinities done all the time by freshman calculus students.

Imagine measuring out the ocean with coffee spoons!
Infinitude baffles.

“Do I dare / Disturb the universe?”

CR