I was introduced to Thomas Lynch through an interview in <i>Writers Chronicle</i>.  He writes essays and fiction but says, “I wouldn’t write sentences or paragraphs that were worthy if I weren’t also writing poetry.”  That led me to find his book, <i>Walking Papers</i>, and I was hooked by the opening lines of the opening poem:

What sort of morning was Euclid having
when he first considered parallel lines?
(“Euclid”)

I have always been partial to Greeks because of my studies in Greek and Archaeology, but I have been fond of Euclid since I was in the equivalent of seventh grade in an English School.  There geometry was taught as a series of theorems and their proofs.  One of the first was “When two straight lines cross, the opposite angles are equal.”

It was rote learning, but I loved it.  I believed this was the way Euclid himself had presented his ideas.  I remember the small paperback book clearly, while I’ve forgotten entirely the geometry text I used when I came to the subject again as a sophomore in high school.

Lynch says little more about Greeks, but in this first poem, Euclid takes a place along with Lynch’s contemporaries, each working out their understanding of the world, and they go together well.

 

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