The this-earth history of this poem began in 2009 when I became interested in the mythology of Dido, the mythic Carthaginian Queen who allegedly cut her city out of strips of cloth from her cloak. The title, "The Isoperimetric Inequality" refers to a mathematical principle sometimes known as "Dido's Theorem".
A translation by Lianor 'at-Katharos, of Zuria the Mystic. From the collected works of Belchior the Wanderer, gathered by Aquil Apelonian of the Dome of Stars. Part of the Belchior Translations, Vol 2, p23.
The best-known translation into the Old Holy Vernacular, approximately 1203, was taken out of the Ancient Tumry coastal language used by Belchior the Wanderer in 627. Zuria's native language, from which Tumric would be a descendant, contained a terse, stripped poetic form later translators overlooked to emphasize the rhymed nature of the original without preserving the integrity of the style. Thus Aquil's rendition of Belchior (here in standardised spelling):
"It is the nature of man to divine a Word
In equations I express myself with thirds
on parchment the holy unspoken is heard..."
While these rhymes are present in the Belchior translation, meaning shifts and the simplicity of the form is lost by stressing the rhyme over the short meter of Lady Zuria's longing for "a green land". Settling a matter of debate, this translation draws on a contemporary document from the City of Stairs, a fragment of her collected Visions and Dreams in her original vernacular. The discovery of this early copy of Visions and Dreams, written a generation before Belchior and before the burning of his beloved Aksandra, confirms what were believed to be post-exile additions to the city's most famous poet are in fact present in the original, though Belchior's own embellishments will be evident when compared to this translation. In this, we can confirm the reference to "a burned country" predated the sack of Lady Zuria's home, and was not a late addition by translators who admired the symmetry of an Aksandran writing about the Burned City before it ever was put to fire. The Wanderer, then, cannot be a later addition by Belchior in his exiled travels to refer to himself, but was present from the poem's beginnings. The identity of the Wanderer, and Zuria's obsession with fire, remains as obscure as it was to Aquil Apelonian when he translated Belchior's writings on Zuria, but the extant fragments suggest perhaps he took his name "The Wanderer" from her works, or else could not distance himself from the work he is most famous for saving from the Aksandran fire. See Vol 1 of the Apelonian collection of the Belchior Translations, "Introduction to Notes From A Foreign Land", 1st ed., translated by Lianor at-Katharos, for the multiple theories of Belchior's title over time.
Collected by Aquil Apelonian is this dreaming charm, called "Zuria's Doorway" which involves folding and cutting a piece of paper into an empty circle, drawing the Cupbearer's flowers and herbs upon it, and hanging it in the window or doorway of one's bedroom. To hang two such identical charms from a window is said to open the dreamers to the ability to meet and converse in the Land of Dreams; any such charm hanging in a window at any time in history, speculates Aquil, would open such a passageway, regardless of the distance in time between charms. On the matter of charms named for Zuria and their various purposes, see the Lianor 'at-Katharos translation addendum to Vol 4 of the Apelonian collection of the Belchior Translations.
The Isoperimetric Inequality OR The Cut-Cloth City
a poem of Zuria of Aksandra
by nature, we invent words;
equations are expressions
of ineffable mysteries on parchment.
give me a boundary, I will push against it.
how simple the solution
to the mystery of mathematicians:
where can we two live?
for I am spirit, severed from the flesh
always leaving the world behind
and you, uprooted, are wandering
with only the Tents to call your home.
what world can hold us two?
ah, but give me a piece of cloth
and I will cut out a country
a green land, to forget the burning one.
ah, but give me your heart
and I will weave for it a home.