Lines

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

I 'm ashamed, - that 's the fact, - it 's a pitiful case, -
Won't any kind classmate get up in my place?
Just remember how often I've risen before, -
I blush as I straighten my legs on the floor!

There are stories, once pleasing, too many times told, -
There are beauties once charming, too fearfully old, -
There are voices we've heard till we know them so well,
Though they talked for an hour they'd have nothing to tell.

Yet, Classmates! Friends! Brothers! Dear blessed old boys!
Made one by a lifetime of sorrows and joys,
What lips have such sounds as the poorest of these,
Though honeyed, like Plato's, by musical bees?

What voice is so sweet and what greeting so dear
As the simple, warm welcome that waits for us here?
The love of our boyhood still breathes in its tone,
And our hearts throb the answer, "He's one of our own!"

Nay! count not our numbers; some sixty we know,
But these are above, and those under the snow;
And thoughts are still mingled wherever we meet
For those we remember with those that we greet.

We have rolled on life's journey, - how fast and how far!
One round of humanity's many-wheeled car,
But up-hill and down-hill, through rattle and rub,
Old, true Twenty-niners! we've stuck to our hub!

While a brain lives to think, or a bosom to feel,
We will cling to it still like the spokes of a wheel!
And age, as it chills us, shall fasten the tire
That youth fitted round in his circle of fire!

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