A Song Of Other Days

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

As o'er the glacier's frozen sheet
Breathes soft the Alpine rose,
So through life's desert springing sweet
The flower of friendship grows;
And as where'er the roses grow
Some rain or dew descends,
'T is nature's law that wine should flow
To wet the lips of friends.
Then once again, before we part,
My empty glass shall ring;
And he that has the warmest heart
Shall loudest laugh and sing.

They say we were not born to eat;
But gray-haired sages think
It means, Be moderate in your meat,
And partly live to drink.
For baser tribes the rivers flow
That know not wine or song;
Man wants but little drink below,
But wants that little strong.
Then once again, etc.

If one bright drop is like the gem
That decks a monarch's crown,
One goblet holds a diadem
Of rubies melted down!
A fig for Caesar's blazing brow,
But, like the Egyptian queen,
Bid each dissolving jewel glow
My thirsty lips between.
Then once again, etc.

The Grecian's mound, the Roman's urn,
Are silent when we call,
Yet still the purple grapes return
To cluster on the wall;
It was a bright Immortal's head
They circled with the vine,
And o'er their best and bravest dead
They poured the dark-red wine.
Then once again, etc.

Methinks o'er every sparkling glass
Young Eros waves his wings,
And echoes o'er its dimples pass
From dead Anacreon's strings;
And, tossing round its beaded brim
Their locks of floating gold,
With bacchant dance and choral hymn
Return the nymphs of old.
Then once again, etc.

A welcome then to joy and mirth,
From hearts as fresh as ours,
To scatter o'er the dust of earth
Their sweetly mingled flowers;
'T is Wisdom's self the cup that fills
In spite of Folly's frown,
And Nature, from her vine-clad hills,
That rains her life-blood down!
Then once again, before we part,
My empty glass shall ring;
And he that has the warmest heart
Shall loudest laugh and sing.

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