James Clerk Maxwell

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

To The Additional Examiner For 1875

Poem by James Clerk Maxwell

Queen Cram went straying
Where Tait was swaying,
In just hands weighing,
With care immense,
Dry proofs made pleasant
By Routh or Besant
For one who hasn’t
Got too much sense.
Nor marked how, quicker
Than mounts the liquor
In brains made thicker
By College beer,
The murderous maiden,
Mistake, walks laden
With tips forgotten and slips so queer.

How, like a spider,
She still spreads wider,
O’er bookwork, rider,
And problem too,
Her flimsy curtain
Of terms uncertain,
Till all seems dirt in
The marker’s view.
For if Cram were not,
Which markers spare not,
Wise men would care not
To pluck too soon,
Seeing all life’s season
Of budding reason
Finds good stiff work for a wooden spoon.

As Tait sat joking,
And marked while smoking,
Still slyly poking
Where jests might hit,
She came, soft-gliding,
Her false face hiding,
Rich food providing
For Tait’s sharp wit.
Through symbols tangled,
The Wranglers wrangled
Like sweet bells jangled
And out of tune.
For though their music
Would soon make you sick
The tides they measure and guide the moon.

Cram found no cover
Wherein to hover,
For still above her
Tait held his pen,
Which, onward creeping,
Might find her sleeping,
But left her weeping
O’er ruined men.
For, like a blister,
Mistake, Cram’s sister,
Would wring and twist her
In awkward ways,
Till all the knowledge
Acquired at College
Had passed from thought(49) in the last six days.

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Read poems about / on: sister, sick, food, music, work, moon, sleep

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003