The Old Tune - Thirty-Sixth Variation

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

This shred of song you bid me bring
Is snatched from fancy's embers;
Ah, when the lips forget to sing,
The faithful heart remembers!

Too swift the wings of envious Time
To wait for dallying phrases,
Or woven strands of labored rhyme
To thread their cunning mazes.

A word, a sigh, and lo, how plain
Its magic breath discloses
Our life's long vista through a lane
Of threescore summers' roses!

One language years alone can teach
Its roots are young affections
That feel their way to simplest speech
Through silent recollections.

That tongue is ours. How few the words
We need to know a brother!
As simple are the notes of birds,
Yet well they know each other.

This freezing month of ice and snow
That brings our lives together
Lends to our year a living glow
That warms its wintry weather.

So let us meet as eve draws nigh,
And life matures and mellows,
Till Nature whispers with a sigh,
"Good-night, my dear old fellows!"

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