Julia Randall's Poetic Finitude: Mapping the Infinite onto a Poem

Emily Grosholz
Proceedings of Bridges 2015: Mathematics, Music, Art, Architecture, Culture (2015)
Pages 283–288 Regular Papers


Julia Randall (1924-2005), an important but insufficiently appreciated American poet who spent part of her life teaching at Hollins College in Virginia, and retired to the countryside near Baltimore, was a great poetic musician. She had various strategies for minimizing the “successiveness” of her poem, as if the poem gathered together moments of history or the living variety of a great landscape, into the charmed circle of the poem. In this essay, I note human strategies of mapping the infinite into the finite (in thought and vision) which are familiar to, and formalized by mathematicians. And then I point out where and why they occur in the poems of Julia Randall.