The Ruba'iyat of Isaac Newton

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Ruba'iyat, the plural of ruba'i (Persian for foursome) are poems that consist of two statements that can be broken into four lines. The first, second, and fourth lines must rhyme with each other. In that structure the ruba'i is very much like the limerick. The most famous are "The Ruba'iyat of Omar Khayyam", in which the tentmaker meditates on the nature of reality and fate. Isaac Newton might have had a different approach.

From all changes these stand aloof

on space and time's warp and woof.

On their own these axioms stand;

displaying self-evidence, they need no proof.

To change a body's right-line course

to that body you must apply a force.

From nothing that force cannot come;

some other body must be its source.

You must seek any body's fate

in its momentum's changing rate.

To call up that which brings the change

force is the name we designate.

One body's course in now affected

by a force from another body projected.

That other from the first must thus receive

a force equal in size and oppositely directed.


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