What, after all, is mathematics but the poetry of the mind, and what is poetry but the mathematics of the heart?
–American mathematician David Eugene Smith
If at first glance poetry and math seem as far apart as data and doughnuts, a closer look reveals a strong connection. Especially in more traditional poetry, mathematical concepts influence the structure of a poem: its shape, the lengths of its lines and stanzas, and its patterns of rhythm and rhyme.
What would a Shakespearean sonnet be, for example, without its rhyme scheme (a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g) and its use of iambic pentameter? (An iamb is a unit of two syllables, with the accent on the second syllable; the pentameter tells you there are five of those units per line.)
Even people who profess to know nothing about poetry will recognize the strict rhythm and rhyme scheme (a-a-b-b-a) of the most memorable and maligned of all poetic forms, the limerick.