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James Clerk Maxwell

(13 June 1831 – 5 November 1879 / Edinburgh, Scotland)

School Rhymes


O academic muse that hast for long
Charmed all the world with thy disciples’ song,
As myrtle bushes must give place to trees,
Our humbler strains can now no longer please.
Look down for once, inspire me in these lays.
In lofty verse to sing our Rector's praise.

The mighty wheel of Time to light has rolled
That golden age by ancient bards foretold.
Minerva now descends upon our land,
And scatters knowledge with unsparing hand;
Long since Ulysses saw the heavenly maid,
In Mentor's form and Mentor’s dress arrayed,
But now to Cambrian lands the goddess flies,
And drops in Williams’ form from out the skies;
And as at dawn the brilliant orb of light,
With his bright beams dispels the gloomy night,
So sunk in ignorance our land he finds,
But with his learning drives it from our minds,
And he, a hero, shall with joyful eyes
See crowds of heroes all around him rise;
With great Minerva's wisdom he shall rule
Those boisterous youths—the rector's class at school,
And when in the fifth class begins his power,
And he begins to teach us, from that hour
Dame Poetry begins to show her face,
And witty epigrams the plaster grace;
There growing wild are often to be seen
The names of boys that Duxes erst have been,
And at the chimney-piece is seen the same
All thickly scribbled with the boobie's name.

· · · · ·

Ne’er shall the dreadful tawse be heard again,
The lash resounding, and the cry of pain;
Carmichael's self will change (O that he would!)
From the imperative to wishing mood;
Ye years roll on, and haste the expected time
When flogging boys shall be accounted crime.

But come, thy real nature let us see,
No more the rector but the goddess be,
Come in thy might and shake the deep profound,
Let the Academy with shouts resound,
While radiant glory all thy head adorns,
And slippers on thy feet protect thy corns;
O may I live so long on earth below,
That I may learn the things that thou dost know!
Then will I praise thee in heroic verse
So good that Linus’ will be counted worse;
The Thracian Orpheus never will compare
With me, nor Dods that got the prize last year.
But stay, O stay upon this earth a while,
Even now thou seest the world's approving smile,
And when thou goest to taste celestial joys,
Let thy great nephew teach the mourning boys,
Then mounting to the skies upon the wind,
Lead captive ignorance in chains behind.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: mentor, hero, poetry, school, change, nature, power, light, smile, song, world, wind, pain, rose, tree, sky

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