Agnes Scott College

Helen A. Merrill

Three Mathematical Songs
The Mathematics Teacher, Vol. 25, January 1932, 36-37

These three songs were contributed by Miss Helen A. Merrill of the Department of Mathematics at Wellesley College who wrote them for the Wellesley Mathematics Club.

Conic Sections

The first three lines should be sung at an ordinary rate, the last very fast, slowing up on the last three syllables.

(To the tune of Mistress Shady)

O Conic Sections, you've my affections,
Your rounded contours are sure to please.
Most famous loci, you have some foci,
And directrices, and asymptotes, and tangents, and subnormals,
and all kinds of eccentricities.

My predilections for Conic Sections
Were early marked by my proud papa;
Ere I could prattle or shake a rattle,
When I tumbled from my crib 'twas my habit to descend
on an arc of a parabola.

But in selections of Conic Sections
No one of course must the rest eclipse;
On this I brooded, and then concluded,
When I started every year on my journey round the sun
my path should always be an ellipse.

If these connections with Conic Sections
Some day seem boresome and dull to me,
I'll take to flying, all laws defying,
On a hyperbolic arc I will course among the stars,
trying two routes to infinity.

Sing a Song of Six Points

(The tune of "Sing a Song of Sixpence" may be found in a collection of Mother Goose Melodies)

Since a song of six points that on a conic lie.
Join them, and a hexagon greets your ravished eye.
If the sides are all produced, two by two they meet
On the so-called Pascal line, now isn't that quite neat?

Sing a song of Euclid, a mighty wizard he,
Once you grant his axiom you're led to Q.E.D.
Though he wrote his Elements in ages far and dim,
The world will always find it true, and always honor him.

Sing a song of Newton, many things he found,
Such as why an apple tumbles to the ground.
But his great discovery of the Calculus
Is what most particularly makes him dear to us.

Sing a song of Descartes with his law of signs,
And his way of drawing plus and minus lines.
He was the philosopher who was because he thought,
But 'twas to Mathematics that his greatest gifts he brought.

Sing a song of Taylor, a friend of Newton he,
Who for his work in series will long remembered be;
F(a+x) he'll teach you to express
In an infinity of terms, or, if you wish, in less.

Sing a song of all the folks, today and long ago,
Who helped discover wonders that we simply long to know.
How we'd like ourselves to find something nice and new,
To give the students after us a little more to do!

Greek and Mathematics

(To the tune of Yankee Doodle)

When I hear a crowd of folks all chattering in Greek, it
Sounds so mathematical I join right in and speak it.

Alpha, lambda, hexagon, axiom, phi, beta,
Asymptote, pi, epsilon, theorem, rho, theta.

Of these Greek remarks I know the meaning mathematic,
Though perhaps it differs from the usage of pure Attic.

Alpha, lambda, hexagon, axiom, phi, beta,
Asymptote, pi, epsilon, theorem, rho, theta.