An Ode to the Arts - By Srivatsan Manivannan

May 01, 2017 

I last night reading Antigone and Oedipus,

The Greek Tragedy, the Epic, the Romantic, his adventures at Colonus,

I spent last night awake, listening to Vivaldi,

Soaking in lives lived long ago, in that little melody.

You know, when you’re joining college, there’s always that one admissions person, who promises you the world,

And you arrive in college, and you find it at your footsteps.


Green grasses to lie on and blue skies to dream at,

The portraits and names lining the hallways, winking at all who pass.

Almost as if to say, that, in class,

There’ll always be that one subject, you can never pass.

Math. No, don’t get me wrong.

I loved Math, with all my heart and soul.

Math, just didn’t love me back.


Tell me what more would have you jump off a cliff,

Than a High School scorecard that read A, A, A, A, A, and F!

Math was the pineapple on the pizza. The Justin Trudeau to my Trump,

The sober one in the party, the wicket to the stump.

I still loved Math, I love its curves, its figures.

But no matter how I tried,

I just couldn’t solve its problems.


Math told me, “You just couldn’t add it all up and figure it out, could you?

You couldn’t let me be, couldn’t stand our love being linear,

just HAD to make it complex, didn’t you?

You needed me. Admit it,” Math said.

“You needed me everyday. I was the Pi in your Piscine,

And you knew, the moment, that this was a Sine,

That we were never meant to be together.”


Our love was asymptotic, always tending closer and closer together, but never meeting.

So, after my dreadful heartbreak, after divorcing Mathematics,

I fled to my solace – the wonderful, aesthetic, Arts.

Here, I delved into economics and sociology, philosophy and psychology,

And I was happy. After all those months, I could finally say, that I was over her.

That Math couldn’t hurt me anymore. I had many dates with History,

Philosophy taught me to see the world anew, with Amartya Sen and Nussbaum,

Telling me that I have capabilities and abilities, and to my country I am a balm.

They taught me that I can, YES, I can

Until in my second semester,

Came Immanuel Kant.


In the 3rd semester crept from nowhere, Statistics,

And, it wasn’t the stones that broke my bones, it was the sticks.

Tore me down like I was made of paper, not bricks,

Little did I know that she was back, that this was repackaged Mathematics.

I was so filled with optimism, positivism, realistic compatibilism,

But now. Jean Paul-Sartre filled my bones, entered existentialism,

I felt slumber die into insomnia, and heartbreak into intellectual pneumonia,

My lungs filled with the fluids of doubt,



All my life, in the liberal arts,

I believed that, like Obama, Yes… Yes I can.

It was all alright, till I met Statistics,

And realized, that I Immanuel Kant do this no more.

But I went on.

Because the truth is,

We study the arts.


The night is too beautiful for us to fall asleep,

So we cringe our eyes bathed at the orange winter light, and weep,

Reading poetry misunderstood, but so deep.

I forgive Math for all its differences,

And embrace the least common denominator of our preferences,

And learn.


To believe in ideals, when the world tells you to be pragmatic, to be realistic,

And every other word that asks to just not dream.

Telling you that they couldn’t do it, so we shouldn’t either.

That the limits of their world, should be the limits of ours.

But we’re the dreamers, aren’t we?



“To see the world in a grain of sand,

And heaven in a wildflower,

To hold infinity in the palm of our hand,

And eternity in an hour,”

Have the university be our little universe,

Live our days as “the blameless vestal’s lot,

The world’s forgetting by the world forgot. ”

We study the Arts,

rendering us powerful in our vulnerability,

To the fragile world, a good enough start.

Have us listening to music that comes from a star,

happy knowing that it’s warm, even if afar.

We study the Arts.



Each lonely, incredible, starry night here,

“It is a far, far better thing that we do, than we have ever done;

And a far, far better rest that we go to,

than we have ever known.”