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Travail of a Math Student

Normalistic madness! this math
Bound by the web of a graph;
Thought I, 'round and 'round they go
Where they stop, I don't know;
Symbols only, zero through nine
Which burst forth as the stars shine;
'Twas this l, x and y, f(that)! cosine?
Soon the prof had left me behind;
'Twas work by day and work by night
On that terrible symbolic blight;
It filled my life with many a sigh
When the answers would be only nigh;
'Twas check again, and again I would check,
Though my nerves be nearly a wreck;
My body would become so weary,
And my eyes moist and bleary
During each battle so keen
With this science which reigns queen;
But now she is my mighty servant
For which my prayers of thanks are fervent;
To her all knowledge must conform;
Only the ignorant regard her with scorn;
'Tis work by day and work by night
With this beautiful symbolic light.

C. James Dunigan
North Carolina

Source: Mathematics Teacher, April 1959