tossed aside his cap and gown
and turned his attention to studying bacalao,
which I am told is a most delectable chow.
What is it you may ask, as I did too.
Is it used to make a delicious stew?
To assuage my doubts and throw some light
I was advised to check José Dulá’s web site.
I did as I was bid and, to my surprise,
found that bacalao can appear in many a guise.
Such an abundance of recipes was I to find
about which one to choose I couldn’t make up my mind.
I longed to try this exotic fare
but I wondered if I should beware
until I discovered that what to me sounded odd
was none other than my old friend the cod.
If the professor had spent time coming to grips
with the fascinating world of fish and chips
there would have been no mystery here
but I am glad indeed that it is now quite clear.
What puzzled me was why someone whose speciality is math
should have decided to follow such a divergent path.
Was he tired, perhaps, of spending so much time
counting numbers that are known as prime?
Did he think it was no longer cool to strive
and try, just once, to make four and four equal five?
Maybe he simply became totally weary
of trying to unravel the chaos theory?
Did he feel, sometimes, that he would like to throttle
Mr. Klein of the peculiar bottle?
Or was he tired of taking futile trips
along Mr. Möbius’s endless strips?
Did he fear he might become totally mental
when pondering numbers that are transcendental
while keeping his gaze constantly on high
as he searched for the Pi they say is in the sky?
Did he announce he had not the slightest intention
to pursue the search for yet another dimension?
Was he fed up with all those calculations
and incredibly complicated equations?
Was he one of those who had dared
to question whether E really equals mc squared?
Did he wonder whether, when Newton discovered gravity he was on his head
after having been hit by an apple made of lead?
Did it dawn on him that it really was risible
to keep looking for numbers that are invisible?
Did he decide the ones called imaginary are totally absurd?
But maybe that’s a subject on which mum’s the best word.
Did he sometimes feel he would like to put a pox
on those recalcitrant circles that refused to shape up like a box?
Or did he decide he would henceforth refuse
to waste any more time on the very boring hypotenuse?
Did it become stressful to keep probing the highest sphere,
to try to find the answer as to why we are here?
Perhaps he determined he must take a firm stand
as his orders of magnitude got out of hand.
Was he tired of listening to sleep-inducing lectures
that go on and on about unsolved conjectures?
Or perhaps he concluded he had no affinity
with those who insist there is an end to infinity?
Whatever the reason for his change of direction
which, I insist, gives cause for much reflection,
if he decides he wants no more of topology, or even ichthyology
he could always apply for a Chair in Codology.*
* Codology is an Irish science unknown elsewhere but which is studied by every true Irish man or woman, particularly politicians. The origin of the word is the slang use of the word cod to mean a joke, a hoax, a parody, or take-off. In his review of the Da Vinci Code film in The Observer newspaper Philip French describes the Robert Langdon character as “a professor of religious symbology (a branch of codology) at Harvard”. The word is used by Leo Bloom in James Joyce’s Ulysses.