To the Committee of the Cayley Portrait Fund

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To the Committee of the Cayley Portrait Fund  (1874) 
by James Clerk Maxwell
From the obituary by Professor Peter Guthrie Tait, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 10 (1878-80), 331-339. The verses refer to subjects investigated by the mathematician Arthur Cayley.

TO THE COMMITTEE OF THE CAYLEY PORTRAIT FUND.

1874.

O wretched race of men, to space confined !
What honour shall ye pay to him whose mind
To that which lies beyond hath penetrated !
The symbols he hath formed shall sound his praise,
And lead him on through unimagined ways
To conquests new in worlds not yet created.

First, ye determinants in ordered row
And massive column ranged before him go,
To form a phalanx for his safe protection.
Ye powers of the nth roots of - 1,
Around his head in endless cycles run,
As disembodied spirits of direction.

And yon ye undevelopable scroles,
Above the host wave your emblazoned rolls,
Ruled for the record of his bright inventions.
Ye cubic surfaces, by threes and nines,
Draw round his camp your seven-and-twenty lines,
The seal of Solomon in three dimensions.

March on, symbolic host, with step sublime,
Up to the flaming bounds of space and time;
There halt, until, by Dickenson depicted
In two dimensions, we the form may trace
Of him whose mind, too large for vulgar space,
In n dimensions flourished unrestricted.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.