Home » (Poetry) » An Excerpt. James Clerk Maxwell: “Lines written under the conviction that it is not wise to read Mathematics in November after one’s fire is out.”

An Excerpt. James Clerk Maxwell: “Lines written under the conviction that it is not wise to read Mathematics in November after one’s fire is out.”

. . . Thus the gaudy gowns were sold,
Cast off sloughs of pedants old;
Proudly marched the students bold
      Through the domain of error,
Till their trappings, false though fair,
Mouldered off and left them bare,
Clustering close in blank despair,
      Nakedness, cold, and terror.

Then, I said, “These haughty Schools
Boast that by their formal rules
They produce more learned fools
      Than could be well expected.
Learned fools they are indeed,
Learned in the books they read;
Fools whene’er they come to need
      Wisdom, too long neglected. . . .

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