Ave

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Prelude To "Illustrated Poems"

Full well I know the frozen hand has come
That smites the songs of grove and garden dumb,
And chills sad autumn's last chrysanthemum;

Yet would I find one blossom, if I might,
Ere the dark loom that weaves the robe of white
Hides all the wrecks of summer out of sight.

Sometimes in dim November's narrowing day,
When all the season's pride has passed away,
As mid the blackened stems and leaves we stray,

We spy in sheltered nook or rocky cleft
A starry disk the hurrying winds have left,
Of all its blooming sisterhood bereft.

Some pansy, with its wondering baby eyes
Poor wayside nursling! - fixed in blank surprise
At the rough welcome of unfriendly skies;

Or golden daisy, - will it dare disclaim
The lion's tooth, to wear this gentler name?
Or blood-red salvia, with its lips aflame.

The storms have stripped the lily and the rose,
Still on its cheek the flush of summer glows,
And all its heart-leaves kindle as it blows.

So had I looked some bud of song to find
The careless winds of autumn left behind,
With these of earlier seasons' growth to bind.

Ah me! my skies are dark with sudden grief,
A flower lies faded on my garnered sheaf;
Yet let the sunshine gild this virgin leaf,

The joyous, blessed sunshine of the past,
Still with me, though the heavens are overcast, -
The light that shines while life and memory last.

Go, pictured rhymes, for loving readers meant;
Bring back the smiles your jocund morning lent,
And warm their hearts with sunbeams yet unspent!

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