comment upon what light his poetry throws on his character and personality. Second, it is to discuss a much-neglected topic, the interaction between Science and the Arts, with particular reference to mathematics and poetry. Poetry clearly meant a great deal to George Boole, both to read and compose. From his early teens until about 1855, he used poetry as a form of recreational activity, possibly as a form of relaxation from his more serious work in logic and mathematics. He was a competent, if not exceptional, translator and versifier, who now and then wrote lines of real poetic merit. And in the debate about reciprocal contributions by artists to the sciences, it would be difficult to find even a single established poet who made even a minor contribution to mathematics.
These are some extracts from his poems:
ELIZA TRIZEL (Translated from the French)
Her coffin slow descends
With pure white roses gathered from her bower;
A sire has strewn them, earth that bore them blends
The maiden and the flower.
SONNET 12 CARISBROOKE
I saw the moonlight stream o'er Carisbrooke
I heard the owl sing there her doleful lay
Deep fell the shadows o'er my lonely way
As the dark ivy in the night wind shook.
SONNET 19 TO MUSIC
Thou who cans't breathe in human souls the might
Of noble impulses unfelt before
Or soothe the bosom into calm delight
With heavenly airs thy sweet and varied store.
Mighty enchanter, Love! the change was thine;
Thou camest, and the world again did bloom;
A light renewed and glory half divine
Showed even beyond the confines of the tomb.
THE COMMUNION OF SAINTS
When the day of light declineth
And the fields in shadow lie
And the dewy Hesper shineth
Fairest in the western sky,
Visions in the twilight rise
Night unseals the spirits' eyes.
B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Mathematical Science from
University College Galway and a Ph.D. degree in Algebra from the
University of Keele in the UK. He is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics
at University College Cork, where he taught for forty years. He is author
of over sixty published books on such diverse topics as
Lateral Thinking Puzzles (with Paul Sloane), Wit, Jokes, Puzzles,
George Boole,John Ford's movie The Quiet Man, and giving up smoking.
Among his interests are Geology (in which he has a diploma), photography,
broadcasting, book collecting, recreational mathematics, humour,
family history, and puzzles of all kinds. He and his long-suffering
wife Anne have five wonderful children and three even more wonderful
grandchildren and live in Cork.