Thursday, February 14, 2013

Ernest Hilbert: ∞

I think infinity's a good topic for our last Hilbertian installment (for the time being).

Enjoy our final presentation of a poem from Ernest Hilbert's upcoming All of You on the Good Earth. Tomorrow, some music. Monday, the review. Tuesday, the word still whirled in the unstilled world!

What is the chance that it would fold like this?
In the silted gutter, edged by gravel,
Flanked by cigarette ends, receipts, and leaves,
A rubber band, very easy to miss,
Forming the sign for “infinity,” a full,
Conspicuous circuit. Am I simply naïve?
Perhaps it’s not so strange at all. Relieved
Of pressure borrowed from something firm,
It relaxes, splayed like a struck soldier
Or a Möbius strip. Could I believe,
Unstretched from its cargo, this helixed form
Has a cosmos obscured in its curvature?
Is it merely what I see in the moment?
When I walk away, will it keep what it meant?

Originally appeared in Scythe.


  1. I'm wondering if there's a relationship between Ernest Hilbert and the famous German mathematician David Hilbert. The particular mathematical topics of the poem (the infinite, geometry) are areas where David Hilbert made foundational contributions.

  2. Not that Ernie knows of. But one of his relatives wants to know if you're in turn related to the Philadelphia Kurtzes (as they apparently are).

  3. I suppose it depends on which Philadelphia Kurtzes are in question. My paternal grandparents lived in Havertown (a suburb of Philly) for something like fifty years ('42-'92, or thereabouts). *I* lived in Havertown from '60 until '68.

    So… could be. My grandfather was George William Kurtz, his father was Immanuel Kurz (born in Konigsreich Wurremburg, the "t" added with naturalization), his brother was William (who fought in the balloon corp as a 17 year old during WWI), and who I knew.