The story of Rowan Hamilton in 64 sonnets | The Irish Literary Times |

Poetry and mathematics are worlds apart. So, at least, it would seem to those of us who struggle to recall even the most basic numerical notions while being quite capable – even in addled old age – of unearthing chunks of Yeats or Shakespeare from the muddy depths of the memory.

However, forms of poetry which depend on regular rhythm are guaranteed to delight anyone who appreciates the elegance of numbers. Take the short lyric poem known as the sonnet. There is an almost infinite number of possible variations, but the definition of a sonnet is a simple, mathematical one: it must have 14 lines. The poem’s internal organisation also pertains to numbers; some sonnets have an eight-plus-six formation, others take the form of three lines of four plus two.