Hector the Vector

For Caroline, because she remembered it. And for Mrs. Gray, because she made math, which = hell, fun and understandable.

The Lay of Pre-Calculus

By Corinne Dyer

© 2006

Hector the Vector was walking one day
In the land of Arctan where factorials play;

A jester he was, in the court of Pythagoras

Whose son, called Arccos, in peril great was

For Arccos the brave and courageous prince

Had gone on a quest and been captured since;

‘Twas the troll called Orthogonal who did this cruel deed

Now a friendly deliverer Arccos did need

Arccos had gone to rescue a maiden

Who with great troubles was heavily laden

Princess Cartesian was the prisoner of Scalar,

An evil math teacher who said he would fail her.

Hector marched in reduced row-echelon form

Rather than row-echelon more commonly worn

But not even a determinant could help him that day

If nefarious Orthogonal he was to make pay.

When he reached the troll’s lair under the Bridge of the Sine

A way to Arccos he just couldn’t find

He cried to the oblique, acute, and obtuse

“Hey, a little help here could I use!”

A shower of radians burst from the sky

And a lady descended as if from on high

Her raiment was golden, her marker dry-erase

Of evil in her there was not a trace

“Behold,” she said, “it is I and no other,

Please have no fear, I am your Fairy Mathmother.”

Her marker she waved and caused great permutations

That shook the rocks in the lair’s foundations

Coefficients collapsed, opened dungeons dark

Hector was so happy he could factor like a lark

For he found Arccos, whom he instantly freed

So that he could complete his most noble deed.

The Fairy Mathmother bestowed on the prince

An integer of gifts of arithmetic sequence

“Arccos,” she said, “These gifts you must use

To rescue Cartestian and Scalar’s power reduce,”

A poison she gave him, from the extract of square root

And a bow from which cofactors would shoot.

To the Castle of Cosine the three of them went

And Arccos into the fortress they sent.

He wet a cofactor with poison and killed

Nefarious Scalar, a villain skilled

He rescued the princess, his Cartesian sweet;

Outside the castle the two did greet

With Hector the Vector who stood there alone

“My lovely Fairy Mathmother has gone,”

He said with a sigh but with joy in his heart

For Arccos and Cartesian never would part

And Hector the Vector, a component man

Loved happy endings, parallelogram.

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