Latter-Day Warnings

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

When legislators keep the law,
When banks dispense with bolts and looks,
When berries - whortle, rasp, and straw -
Grow bigger downwards through the box, -

When he that selleth house or land
Shows leak in roof or flaw in right, -
When haberdashers choose the stand
Whose window hath the broadest light, -

When preachers tell us all they think,
And party leaders all they mean, -
When what we pay for, that we drink,
From real grape and coffee-bean, -

When lawyers take what they would give,
And doctors give what they would take, -
When city fathers eat to live,
Save when they fast for conscience' sake, -

When one that hath a horse on sale
Shall bring his merit to the proof,
Without a lie for every nail
That holds the iron on the hoof, -

When in the usual place for rips
Our gloves are stitched with special care,
And guarded well the whalebone tips
Where first umbrellas need repair, -

When Cuba's weeds have quite forgot
The power of suction to resist,
And claret-bottles harbor not
Such dimples as would hold your fist, -

When publishers no longer steal,
And pay for what they stole before, -
When the first locomotive's wheel
Rolls through the Hoosac Tunnel's bore; -

Till then let Cumming blaze away,
And Miller's saints blow up the globe;
But when you see that blessed day,
Then order your ascension robe.

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