Fun With Algebra (The Answer Is…)

Based on the song “Anywhere Is…” from Enya’s album The Memory of Trees.

The original for this one didn’t come out until after I was out of school (the first time); and yet for some reason it still has a math theme to it.  Maybe school was still fresh on my mind.

The math problem in the second verse is quite soluble, but you do have to know the conversion between knots and mph.  You also have to make an assumption whether the boats are heading toward each other or away.  Yes, you can assume a straight line; no, the cosine has nothing to do with the case.

The test is fifty minutes; I turn to the first question,
But though I can begin it, I cannot reach the finish.
I flounder for a moment, then try to find another.
It would be quite surprising for me to find one I know….

Don’t know this; did we review it?
Not quite sure I’ll get my “A”.
Don’t remember homework on it;
The answer is…?

“Two boats upon the ocean are constant in their motion:
One’s moving north at ten knots, not speeding up or slowing.
The other’s moving southward at thirty knots.  At 3:10
They’re 80 miles distant:  at what time is their meeting?”


I wonder if the cosine is what I should use this time.
Can we assume a straight line?  Can we have till tomorrow?
I try to think more clearly; my mind has clouded over.
No spark of inspiration, no matter how I’m trying.

My fellows taking this class are hoping that they will pass.
I wonder how they’re doing, but all I hear is moaning.
Last night I looked at TV for most of the whole evening.
I’m very much believing tomorrow I’ll be screaming.


I trace the line of my thought and find that it is all rot.
I wonder if I can find the way back to the moment
I took the wrong approach?  I should make a new beginning.
Can I still find the answers?  How long until the finish?

I should have studied longer; my mind might have been stronger.
I should read the directions; my problem, on reflection,
Could be the things I’m doing, equations I am using,
The process I’m pursuing–it’s time to turn it in….

Copyright 2005.


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