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A Poem by Joanne Growney

Each one I meet I ask, "Do you
find mathematics beautiful
or useful? All answer, "Useful.
I use math every day." My eyes
reveal that I want proof, and each
goes on to tell that she subtracts
to keep her checkbook, and
sometimes multiplies to find
the size of carpet for the dining room.

If I, instead, would say, "Do you
find beauty or utility
in poetry?" would each person say,
"It's useful. I use it every day."
For proof would she go on to tell
that rhymes help her remember
the number of days each month--
like "Thirty hath September"--
and spellings of words with "i" and "e."

Someday utilitarians
will join with me to see
beauty in mathematics--
and in poetry.

Source: MAA Focus, February 2008, p. 21