Welcome to Poetry.com

Poetry.com is a huge collection of poems from famous and amateur poets from around the world — collaboratively published by a community of authors and contributing editors.

Navigate through our poetry database by subjects, alphabetically or simply search by keywords. You can submit a new poem, discuss and rate existing work, listen to poems using voice pronunciation and even translate pieces to many common and not-so-common languages.

Lectures to Women on Physical Science

James Clerk Maxwell 1831 (Edinburgh, Scotland) – 1879 (Cambridge, England)

I.

PLACE. -- A small alcove with dark curtains.
The class consists of one member.
SUBJECT. -- Thomson’s Mirror Galvanometer.

The lamp-light falls on blackened walls,
And streams through narrow perforations,
The long beam trails o’er pasteboard scales,
With slow-decaying oscillations.
Flow, current, flow, set the quick light-spot flying,
Flow current, answer light-spot, flashing, quivering, dying,

O look! how queer! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, sharper growing
The gliding fire! with central wire,
The fine degrees distinctly showing.
Swing, magnet, swing, advancing and receding,
Swing magnet! Answer dearest, What's your final reading?

O love! you fail to read the scale
Correct to tenths of a division.
To mirror heaven those eyes were given,
And not for methods of precision.
Break contact, break, set the free light-spot flying;
Break contact, rest thee, magnet, swinging, creeping, dying.

II.

Professor Chrschtschonovitsch, Ph.D., "On the C. G. S. system of Units."
Remarks submitted to the Lecturer by a student.

Prim Doctor of Philosophy
Front academic Heidelberg!
Your sum of vital energy
Is not the millionth of an erg.
Your liveliest motion might be reckoned
At one-tenth metre in a second.
"The air," you said, in language fine,
Which scientific thought expresses,
"The air -- which with a megadyne,
On each square centimetre presses --
The air, and I may add the ocean,
Are nought but molecules in motion."

Atoms, you told me, were discrete,
Than you they could not be discreter,
Who know how many Millions meet
Within a cubic millimetre.
They clash together as they fly,
But you! -- you cannot tell me why.

And when in tuning my guitar
The interval would not come right,
"This string," you said, "is strained too far,
’Tis forty dynes, at least too tight!"
And then you told me, as I sang,
What overtones were in my clang.

You gabbled on, but every phrase
Was stiff with scientific shoddy,
The only song you deigned to praise
Was "Gin a body meet a body,"
"And even there," you said, "collision
Was not described with due precision."

"In the invariable plane,"
You told me, "lay the impulsive couple."
You seized my hand -- you gave me pain,
By torsion of a wrist so supple;
You told me what that wrench would do, --
"’Twould set me twisting round a screw."

Were every hair of every tress
(Which you, no doubt, imagine mine),
Drawn towards you with its breaking stress --
A stress, say, of a megadyne,
That tension I would sooner suffer
Than meet again with such a duffer!

Rate this poem:(0.00 / 0 votes)
Font size:
Collection  Edit     
 

Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:08 min read
124 Views

James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish scientist in the field of mathematical physics.  more…

All James Clerk Maxwell poems | James Clerk Maxwell Books

FAVORITE (0 fans)

Discuss this James Clerk Maxwell poem with the community:

0 Comments

    Translation

    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)

    Citation

    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:

    Style:MLAChicagoAPA

    "Lectures to Women on Physical Science" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 12 May 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/20058/lectures-to-women-on-physical-science>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest poetry community and poems collection on the web!

    Browse Poetry.com

    Quiz

    Are you a poetry master?

    »
    "It's neither red nor sweet. It doesn't melt or turn over, break or harden, so it can't feel pain."
    • A. Rita Dove
    • B. Anne Sexton
    • C. Marianne Moore
    • D. Billy Collins

    Our favorite collection of

    Famous Poets

    »