Academic Love Poetry by Anna H. '14
The amount of poetry I write is inversely proportional to the amount of sleep I get.
In the middle of 5.12 (Organic Chemistry) lecture, 16 men dressed in red and pink burst through the door.
“Excuse me, professor!” The first one cried, as we all gaped at him. “It seems that your students are a bit too attractive!”
“Is (girl’s name I can’t quite remember) here?” A brunette near the front of the room slowly stood up, and the invaders gestured for her to come out to the aisle. They crowded around her – I think that one lifted her up, although I couldn’t see from my seat – and delivered a full serenade. Some knelt down, some held flowers, all had adoring expressions on her faces – and when they were done, they sprinted out of the room to thunderous applause.
These charming men were the MIT Logarhythms: one of the Institvte’s most well-known a capella groups. For Valentine’s Day, they took serenade requests and ran around delivering them, to the mortification of the recipient, and the delight of everyone else.
Before I deliver some love messages of my own, I need to give you some context: a ridiculously eventful Thursday.
A BRIEF GLANCE AT ANNA’S RIDICULOUS THURSDAY
12:48am: Finish my 8.022 (Electricity and Magnetism) problem set.
12:50am: Migrate upstairs to the French House kitchen, to work on my 18.03 (Differential Equations) problem set.
4:30am: Dump some salad and pesto (mmm, pesto) into a bowl as fuel for the final push
4:55am: Finish my 18.03 pset.
5:00am: Go visit my friend, Aaron ’14, to yell I FINISHED THE PSET!
5:02am: Set four alarms (two clocks, one phone, one actual alarm clock)
5:05am: Sleep (mmm, sleep).
10:00am: First alarm goes off. Turn it off.
10:01am: Second alarm goes off, Turn it off.
10:10am: Third alarm goes off, strategically placed across the room. Get up, turn it off, pull out laptop, and work on reports for the Public Service Center.
11:15am: Finish reports for the Public Service Center
Noon: Turn in reports. Turn in 18.03 pset.
12:05pm-12:55: Lecture for 5.12 (Organic Chemistry)
1:05-1:55: Lecture for 18.03 (Differential Equations)
2:15pm: Purchase some sushi and bubble tea from the Stata Center, to cheer myself up
2:30pm: Powerful urge to write some poetry ensues, most likely due to the sleep deprivation.
Not only did I have a powerful urge to write some poetry, but I had a powerful urge to write a blog post and not get an e-mail from Chris Peterson pointing out my lack of recent publications.
At 2:31, my Eureka! moment hit. What about a BLOG POST WITH POETRY?
And what more appropriate time to write poetry than Valentine’s Day? A day for expressing love, for making romantic gestures…and for writing Shakesperian love sonnets, in full 14-line iambic pentameter. So: as a few of the other bloggers have been doing, here’s some information about the classes I’m taking this semester. Luckily for you, not all the bloggers demonstrate a correlation between sleep deprivation and writing extremely low-quality poetry.
Before I begin:
***A quick lesson on Shakesperian sonnet structure***
The rhyme scheme is abab, cdcd, efef, gg. In other words, the poem is broken up into four sections: the first three have four lines of alternating endings, and the last has two lines with the same ending. Now comes the tricky part. Each line is written in what’s known as “iambic pentameter”: five sets of two syllables each, where the second of each pair is emphasized.
Ex. “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate”
= Shall I comPARE thee TO a SUmmer’s DAY? / Thou ART more LOVEly AND more TEMperate
***end of lesson***
Disclaimer: I am no poet. In fact, I am a very poor poet. I would never be sharing any of this poetry with you, if I were not totally sleep-deprived (I did a lot of things this weekend; “sleep a lot” was not among them).
Ode to 8.022: Physics II (Electricity & Magnetism)
*Pronunciation guide: 8.022=”eight oh two two”
Electric fields and charges: mystery
Unknowable to me in high school years
I struggled through the class and the AP,
But now I shed my bias and my fears.
“You fool!” you shout. “Why would you take that class?
The work is tough, and never will relent.
8.022 makes students cry en masse,
Your confidence, you will come to lament.”
It could be that I’m crazy, I admit
But love like mine can deal with cranial pain
To endless waves of p-sets, I submit
Devoted to dear physics, I remain.
Professor Fisher’s lectures help me see
That this is not impossible to clasp
There’s elegance in here; there’s symmetry
And solving problems can be in my grasp.
8.022, my love makes me a fool
Since I, to you, exist only to tool*.
*to tool: verb. When used by MIT students, means “to work” or “to study”.
Ode to 5.12: Organic Chemistry
Pronunciation Guide: 5.12 = “five twelve.” 5.13 = “five thirteen.”
You warned me that to fall behind spells doom
That failing to keep up will seal my fate
That if I struggle, I must leave my room
To look for help before it is too late
You struck me with an overwhelming fear
In recitation I felt anxious, stressed
As gaps in my chem background cost me dear
I tried so hard, but you seemed unimpressed.
I signed up for you at the last minute
Because I thought I might become pre-med
I did not think we’d mesh well, I admit
But now I know this was too early said.
I find that now you fit me like a glove
As time went on, I found my strengths and grew
To understand hybridization, love
I have a gift for spatial work; who knew?
I hope that you will let me be your queen
Let me succeed, and bring on 5.13.
Ode to 9.00: Introduction to Psychology
Psychology, an ode to you is one
To humankind: to curiosity,
To courage, healing, hope, and spirit. None
Have probed so deeply our identity.
9.00: don’t you see our love is real?
My hand is stained with notes in black pen ink
As I jot thoughts on how we think and feel
How bodies and consciousness are in sync.
Course 9, I think I may soon join your ranks
You draw from science and philosophy
The doubleness in me gives thanks
As I need math and the humanities.
One day, I will know all about the brain
‘Til then, my love I’ll struggle to contain.
Unfortunately – and I know you’ll be super disappointed about this – I didn’t write a sonnet for 18.03 (Differential Equations). My relationship with that class is going through a rough patch; it hurt my feelings pretty badly on Thursday, and we are still not on speaking terms.
Since I don’t think that 18.03 deserves a love sonnet right now, I opted for a limerick instead.
***A short lesson on limericks***
A limerick is a five-line poem that follows “anapestic trimeter”. This means that its syllables are usually stressed and unstressed in the following way (although there are some variations):
duhduhDUH, duhduhDUH, duhduhDUHduh
duhduhDUH, duhduhDUH, duhduhDUHduh
duhduhDUH, duhduhDUH, duhduhDUHduh
***end of lesson***
Ode to 18.03: Differential Equations
I began the new year with the feeling
That you were, diff eq, quite appealing
But you gave me much stress
So I loved you much less
5am? That was mean; my heart’s reeling.
To be honest, I saved the best for last. I didn’t write this class a sonnet, simply because I don’t think I could do it justice, and there are certain things I need to make clear to you. I’m taking a course called 21L.320: Big Books, which apparently means “Physically Large Books”, and not “Important Books”, as I initially thought. The class lasts for half a semester (it’s half the number of units of a regular course) and involves reading, discussing, and writing about, one book. This quarter, the book is Clarissa, by Samuel Richardson. Perhaps you, like me, had never heard of Samuel Richardson – but you’ve probably heard of Jane Austen, and it might surprise you to hear that Samuel Richardson was Jane Austen’s favorite author. Reading Clarissa is amazing, partly because it’s immediately obvious how this book could be the father of everything that came after it: including everything written by Jane Austen.
At first, I was intimidated by the fact that my book could be used to deliver someone a fatal blow. How could I possibly enjoy 1500 pages of 18th century letter-writing? It turns out that this book is as much a study of human nature as it is a story: the best way to describe it is by using Samuel Johnson’s comment that Clarissa is “the first book in the world for the knowledge it displays of the human heart.” Reading it is fascinating, because you find so much of yourself and everyone you know in these aristocratic 18th century British characters. The book is timeless, as long as humans are reading it.
This seminar is what I look forward to every Tuesday and Thursday. It involves a different kind of thinking from my other class: thinking about people, about morals, about gender roles, about relationships between parents and children and men and women. It involves stepping back in time and experiencing a world that is completely different, yet made up of human beings that are no different from us.
So, that’s my schedule. Feel free to ask any questions about my classes, since I know that the sonnet form may have been unclear! I also highly recommend trying your hand at sonnet/limerick composition; Person who posts the best one gets either a) a prize sent to him/her or b) a poem written about him/her. Promise.
Final note: this came in the mail today, and I thought I’d share, since it’s pretty :)