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You stand in a forest,
So black, dark,
Light can’t quite wind around the dry, tough bark.

Trees are all you can see,
But change your viewpoint even slightly;
And a brighter vista it may indeed come to be.

Those seen trees which bear ripe plums,
Their seeds grew from the Two that do make One,
Which share no part except for another One.

But in this deep, dark, starless forest, those hidden
Have more in common,
With those that keep them overridden.

Sticks in one big, infinite bundle,
Upright, but One far apart,
Farther removed from Mussolini's art.

But these belong to one very ancient indeed,
A man renowned in strictest sense,
Celebrated most for famous work, derived from common sense.

Thin green trees in this private garden,
With raindrops, at tip top,
Belong to him, the mysterious Alexandrian.

Words, meaningless, focus on their numbers,
To unravel this poem, the key always remains Three,
Numbers speak languages untold, decipher them to avoid any blunders.

Translate to a system, one familiar to the Owner-
Mysterious still, but more unfolding may prove to the sleuth,
That like the flowers here, this poem holds one truth.

Where are you?


Hints:

This poem holds together on multiple levels, and some words are chosen very precisely, but other words and phrases (e.g. "Mussolini's art") are used for rhyme or imagery or... other purposes.

If you're unsure about where to start with deciphering the meaning of each word, go to the eighth tercet.

An answer will not be accepted only because it produces the correct answer; for an answer to be accepted, it must go line-by-line, or at least stanza-by-stanza, and give an interpretation of each part. It also must identify any hidden clues in the puzzle.

The poem holds together on a semantic and a syntactical level—if the wording seems obtuse (which it is), focus on the structure.

Words hold numbers who will only reveal themselves to the arithmetic of the clock.

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    $\begingroup$ In a forest, I'd assume. $\endgroup$ – mdc32 Jun 14 '15 at 16:43
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    $\begingroup$ You're not wrong, but there's a much more specific answer I'm looking for. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 14 '15 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @kanchirk, no, but nice try. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 15 '15 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ @choz, not quite. I'm not sure if this is the kind of puzzle you can solve by hazarding a guess—I think it's going to require a pen-and-paper approach. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 18 '15 at 14:03
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    $\begingroup$ I'm new to this site, but this is the question I want to see solved the most out of all the ones I've read, so I've started a bounty. $\endgroup$ – 5813 Jun 24 '15 at 1:41
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So I'm new here (please excuse any formatting issues/transgressions against community norms), but I've been thinking about this for the last few hours and here is what I have so far, culling various parts from other answers which have already been posted.

Where are you? You are in:

Euclid's Orchard

The wording of the poem was definitely hard to understand, but as was heavily underscored in the hints and seen by Cain, the structure of it seems very significant.

Let's take the number of words in each line (As Cain did):

(5 3 9) (6 6 10) (7 10 8) (9 4 6) (6 5 5) (8 6 9) (7 5 6) (6 9 10) (9 10 10)

The last hint said "Words hold numbers who will only reveal themselves to the arithmetic of the clock," this is:

Modular arithmetic, but what's the modulus? On a clock it's 12, but no numbers here are bigger than 12, so let's try... 3 — "the key always remains Three"

This gives us:

(2 0 0) (0 0 1) (1 1 2) (0 1 0) (0 2 2) (2 0 0) (1 2 0) (0 0 1) (0 1 1)

These are numbers in ternary (i.e. base 3), but in decimal this would be:

18 1 14 3 8 18 15 1 4 — This is simple alphanumeric encoding, e.g. the 18th digit of the alphabet. I used this tool to get:

RANCHROAD

This can't be a coincidence, can it? But what the heck does that mean? I was stuck here for awhile, until I realized...

It's an anagram. The real clue is "AN ORCHARD." I always saw that numbers were behind the words of this poem, so searching for "mathematical orchard" on Wikipedia brought to the page (linked above) for Euclid's orchard.

Now, everything made sense. Let's go through the poem.

The first tercet:

You stand in a forest,
So black, dark,
Light can’t quite wind around the dry, tough bark.

A forest suggests the trees that populate the orchard; the next two lines describe how, from the origin, trees occupy the observer's entire field of vision, so no light can come through.

The second tercet:

Trees are all you can see,
But change your viewpoint even slightly;
And a brighter vista it may indeed come to be.

Again, trees block out all light, but from a different point, say (1,0), looking north, you can see between the rows of the trees, which are only located on the intersection of the lines of the coordinate grid.

The third tercet:

Those seen trees which bear ripe plums,
Their seeds grew from the Two that do make One,
Which share no part except for another One.

The first line is basically just for decorative purposes/word count. But the next two are important. From the origin, only certain trees can be seen—others are blocked. The trees which are seen are located at points whose coordinates are coprime pairs. The two that are one are the coordinates which describe a point, and "another One" that they share is their only common divisor—1!

The fourth tercet:

But in this deep, dark, starless forest, those hidden
Have more in common,
With those that keep them overridden.

Again the first line is more imagery/stuff to make the numbers line up. But, all the trees which can't be seen are obscured by other ones which have the same coordinates, but in reduced form. For example, a tree at (2, 8) couldn't be seen from the origin because it would be blocked by the one at (1, 4).

The fifth tercet:

Sticks in one big, infinite bundle,
Upright, but One far apart,
Farther removed from Mussolini's art.

The "trees" (lines, really) resemble sticks which stand upright, which are all one unit from each other (again, they're at the intersection of the lines of the coordinate gird. Last line seems just to reinforce that the trees are spaced apart, not all bunched together.

The sixth tercet:

But these belong to one very ancient indeed,
A man renowned in strictest sense,
Celebrated most for famous work, derived from common sense.

This is Euclid's Orchard, who's obviously very old, and who's celebrated as the father of geometry—his famous work, which comes from his set of axioms.

The seventh tercet:

Thin green trees in this private garden,
With raindrops, at tip top,
Belong to him, the mysterious Alexandrian.

Euclid is known as "Euclid of Alexandria" to distinguish him from someone else named Euclid, and when these trees are seen from the orchard, in perspective, they resemble the raindrop function.

The eighth tercet:

Words, meaningless, focus on their numbers,
To unravel this poem, the key always remains Three,
Numbers speak languages untold, decipher them to avoid any blunders.

The first line was what made me (and Cain, I assume) look at line numbers, and the next made me think the modulus was 3, and that the resultant numbers were in ternary.

The ninth tercet:

Translate to a system, one familiar to the Owner-
Mysterious still, but more unfolding may prove to the sleuth,
That like the flowers here, this poem holds one truth.

The numbers had to be converted from ternary to decimal; Euclid was undoubtedly familiar with numbers, if not base 10 specifically. Even from decimal though, the numbers had to be converted to text. All this unscrambling and unravelling brought me to the one truth: You are in Euclid's Orchard!

A beautiful and immensely well-crafted puzzle! I look forward to seeing more from you and others on this site!

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  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Wow! What a thorough answer—and you swooped in right at the last second! You're right on about... basically everything! Finally, it's solved, and, nonetheless, by a newbie like myself. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 30 '15 at 23:53
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    $\begingroup$ This is just, wow. $\endgroup$ – Joe Z. Jul 2 '15 at 4:58
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    $\begingroup$ Whoa. I don't know whether to be angry you got this so smoothly, amazed and overjoyed that I get to see the answer, or slightly suspicious that you and Riddler are twins or something. Maybe all 3. $\endgroup$ – Cain Jul 2 '15 at 23:05
  • $\begingroup$ Hold up, I'm calling BS, how did you solve that anagram? Why not "anarch rod" or "rad anchor" or "or handcar"? Did you google all of those with relation to math? $\endgroup$ – Cain Jul 2 '15 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @Cain! I'll take your suspicions as a compliment! I used this anagram generator, and, looked at all the options. I was reading down the list, but "Handcar Or" and "Canard Rho" didn't really seem probable, but when I found "Orchard An" next, I knew I was on to something. $\endgroup$ – Randoms Jul 3 '15 at 21:59
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Ok, so taking the 8th Tercet very literally, I feel like the solution is about the number of words per line, or maybe as well the words that are numbers (Note that every number in the poem is capitalized, except for the "one truth" in the last line).

So lets start with number of words per line. This gives us:

5,3,9
6,6,10
7,10,8
9,4,6
6,5,5
8,6,9
7,5,6
6,9,10
9,10,10

"To unravel this poem, the key always remains Three,
Numbers speak languages untold, decipher them to avoid any blunders."

Sounds like some kind of cipher, where the key is 3. Notably, there are 3 lines per tercet and 9 = 3*3 tercets.

"Translate to a system, one familiar to the Owner-
Mysterious still, but more unfolding may prove to the sleuth, "

Probably a hint as to what kind of cipher it is. Also somehow related to time, as per the hint. Potentially the [water clock] invented by an Alexandrian1? Second line suggests that after deciphering, there will be more to solve.

Still not very helpful

We could look at each lines position in the tercet, since it's not consistent. This gives us: 1,2,1,2,1,1,2,2,1 which could also be in binary I suppose... although maybe ternary is more likely.

Third attempt:

Aithmateic of the clock certainly makes me think Mod12 + 1, as in 11 + 2 is 1, 6 + 9 is 3, etc. How to actually apply this, however, stumps me.

And that's where I'm stuck. Next step:

Which cipher should I actually use?
What to do with the deciphered numbers?
Is words per line the right way to get numbers?
What do the capital numbers in the poem mean?
Who is the Owner/What is his System?

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  • $\begingroup$ Great job so far, you're doing exactly the kind of work necessary. If you're stuck, though, I suggest you re-examine the second line of the eighth tercet. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 18 '15 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Only new things I'm seeing there are "unravel" and "always". Unravel could mean some kind of spiral structure, and always probably means the key to the second encryption is 3 as well, but I'm hesitant to try deciphering my results when I'm not sure they are correct $\endgroup$ – Cain Jun 18 '15 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ Although it's probably significant that they are all in Tercets, and 3 is the key :P $\endgroup$ – Cain Jun 18 '15 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ Oh god, there are so many Threes, I think I'm going crazy $\endgroup$ – Cain Jun 18 '15 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ You're still doing a great job, but you're a little off in some places. I don't want to give too much away, but all I'll say is some words are chosen very carefully so as to provide clues for what should be done. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 19 '15 at 3:45
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I got some guesses. First one:

3-dimensional coordinate system
trees may be lines, if we look on all these lines we may feel like standing in the forest. these lines - 'trees' may 'grow' when we change 2D to 3D system. coordinate system was developed (among others) by Euclides (famous Alexandrian).

Their seeds grew from the Two that do make One,
Which share no part except for another One.

if we stand in a point (defined in 2D on a plane), two dimensions define that - one - point, and the point is where 1st and 2nd dimensions share 3rd coordinate.

Words, meaningless, focus on their numbers,
To unravel this poem, the key always remains Three,
Numbers speak languages untold, decipher them to avoid any blunders.

Translate to a system, one familiar to the Owner-
Mysterious still, but more unfolding may prove to the sleuth,
That like the flowers here, this poem holds one truth.

If we want to describe a point somewhere, talking and describing with words in inaccurate, it's best to use coordinates (numbers).

Ok. My new discovery, and I believe that a correct one is that:

  1. famous Alexandrian is:

    Euclid of Alexandria, in this puzzle, renowned for Elements

  2. the proper calculation that will lead to the answer is :

    Eudlidean division > Modulo operation, which must include '3' number as modulo; I also believe that it is just described as 'arithmetic of the clock' by the Author of this puzzle.

I'm short on time now, so I just let You guys use my discovery :) I try to find some time later to get into it deeper.

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  • $\begingroup$ Interesting ideas, but the eighth tercet refers to something very specific you can do with the words in the poem. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 18 '15 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ Also, your interpretation of the third tercet is not quite right. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 18 '15 at 13:55
2
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I don't know why, but I got the impression that

Trees are files, and you're on a hard drive.

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    $\begingroup$ Hmmm... Again, I encourage anyone who's unsure about their ideas or looking to find the solution to go to the eighth tercet and use it as a guide for the rest of the poem. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 18 '15 at 13:59
2
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I don't have an answer but I'll share some of my observations if it might help someone else figure out how to use it to do the decryption (or alternatively, eliminate it as a possibility). Some of this stuff is a bit far fetched, so more than likely it's on the complete wrong track.

The encryption could centre around prime numbers.

But these belong to one very ancient indeed,
A man renowned in strictest sense,
Celebrated most for famous work, derived from common sense.

Thin green trees in this private garden,
With raindrops, at tip top,
Belong to him, the mysterious Alexandrian.

Eratosthenes was the Librarian of the Library at Alexandria. One of his famous works was the "Sieve of Eratosthenes" which is a common sense filtering algorithm for selecting prime numbers out of the natural numbers.

This sets us up for

The imagery of trees meaning individual numbers, and the forest meaning a bunch of numbers.

Those seen trees which bear ripe plums,
Their seeds grew from the Two that do make One,
Which share no part except for another One.

Each individual (One) prime number is made (grown) of exactly Two factors, the number itself and One. And no prime numbers share a common factor except for One.

Sticks in one big, infinite bundle,
Upright, but One far apart,
Farther removed from Mussolini's art.

It gets far fetched here. There are infinite number of primes. Upright could go back to the fact that prime numbers "stand on their own" instead of on other factors. "One far apart" could refer to the number one not really being considered a prime, even though its only factors are one and itself.

I'm not sure if this is on the right track, but some of it seems fairly applicable. If so, maybe it'll help someone figure out the encryption itself.

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  • $\begingroup$ Certainly has a ring of truth to it. $\endgroup$ – Cain Jun 19 '15 at 19:47
1
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Well, since it says

Belong to him, the mysterious Alexandrian.

It must be referred to Alexandria (and not the one in Louisiana :P). And I think the Alexandrian mentioned maybe is from the Ptolemaic dynasty.

the Two that do make One . !Since is not about the Nile river, maybe is about the Upper Egypt and the Lower Egypt.

And if you add this:

Their seeds grew from the Two that do make One, Which share no part except for another One.

I guess its about

a pharaon as the "another One", and "the Two that do make One" is the Upper Egypt and the Lower Egypt forming Egypt ...?

Anyway, about this part

Words, meaningless, focus on their numbers, To unravel this poem, the key always remains Three, Numbers speak languages untold, decipher them to avoid any blunders.

Translate to a system, one familiar to the Owner- Mysterious still, but more unfolding may prove to the sleuth, That like the flowers here, this poem holds one truth.

This makes me believe that

the two last line of the first tercet is about the Rosetta Stone, as its script is written in three different languages. Since the Rosetta Stone was found in Menfis, i'll guess the forest has to be near there, or maybe next to the Lake Nasser that is also near Menfis.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good job trying to do a close reading of the poem—that's definitely important. You're right on about Alexandria, but your interpretation about "the Two that do make One" is a bit off. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 18 '15 at 0:17
  • $\begingroup$ "But these belong to one very ancient indeed, A man renowned in strictest sense, Celebrated most for famous work, derived from common sense." $\endgroup$ – Cain Jun 18 '15 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ Alexander cutting the knot? $\endgroup$ – Cain Jun 18 '15 at 4:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Cain Alexander cutted the knot in Phrygia (Turkey), i think its referred to Ramesses II, but i'm not sure $\endgroup$ – McFly Jun 18 '15 at 10:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Riddler ok, i eddited my answer since i remembered Egypt starting as two different countries although maybe i'm wrong again and you were talking about the White Nile and the ‎Blue Nile. But i'm not sure about my explanation of "the mysterious Alexandrian"... $\endgroup$ – McFly Jun 18 '15 at 10:43
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You are in a computer Or You are a Softie

You stand in a forest, So black, dark, Light can’t quite wind around the dry, tough bark. Hard Disk

Trees are all you can see, But change your viewpoint even slightly; And a brighter vista it may indeed come to be. **Chip / Motherboard **

Those seen trees which bear ripe plums, Their seeds grew from the Two that do make One, Which share no part except for another One. But in this deep, dark, starless forest, those hidden Have more in common, With those that keep them overridden. Object Oriented programming

Sticks in one big, infinite bundle, Upright, but One far apart, Farther removed from Mussolini's art. Infinite loop / StackOverflow

But these belong to one very ancient indeed, A man renowned in strictest sense, Celebrated most for famous work, derived from common sense. Thin green trees in this private garden, With raindrops, at tip top, Belong to him, the mysterious Alexandrian. Words, meaningless, focus on their numbers, To unravel this poem, the key always remains Three, Numbers speak languages untold, decipher them to avoid any blunders. Binary Number System (1 and 0)

May be You are in StackExchange

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  • $\begingroup$ The first answer is pretty much the same as the one given by @FunkTheMonk and you need to include the reasoning that led to your answer. $\endgroup$ – LinkBerest Jun 28 '15 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @JGreenwell Answer is editted $\endgroup$ – kavi temre Jun 28 '15 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ Not quite, and I don't really understand where your conclusions are coming from. $\endgroup$ – Riddler Jun 28 '15 at 21:26
1
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Just a few thoughts

And a brighter vista it may indeed come to be.

Windows Vista? released 2007

Farther removed from Mussolini's art.

Novecento Italiano was an Italian artistic movement founded in Milan to create an art based on the rhetoric of the Fascism of Mussolini.
It translates to 1900

Celebrated most for famous work, derived from common sense.

Common Sense is a pamphlet by Thomas Paine during the American Revolution in 1776

Belong to him, the mysterious Alexandrian.

Clement of Alexandria was a Christian theologian who taught at the Catechetical School of Alexandria the mysteries. His famous work is known as the Trilogy

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