To Frederick Henry Hedge

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

At A Dinner Given Him On His Eightieth Birthday, December 12, 1885

With a bronze statuette of John of Bologna's Mercury, presented by a few friends.

Fit emblem for the altar's side,
And him who serves its daily need,
The stay, the solace, and the guide
Of mortal men, whate'er his creed!

Flamen or Auspex, Priest or Bonze,
He feeds the upward-climbing fire,
Still teaching, like the deathless bronze,
Man's noblest lesson, - to aspire.

Hermes lies prone by fallen Jove,
Crushed are the wheels of Krishna's car,
And o'er Dodona's silent grove
Streams the white, ray from Bethlehem's star.

Yet snatched from Time's relentless clutch,
A godlike shape, that human hands
Have fired with Art's electric touch,
The herald of Olympus stands.

Ask not what ore the furnace knew;
Love mingled with the flowing mass,
And lends its own unchanging hue,
Like gold in Corinth's molten brass.

Take then our gift; this airy form
Whose bronze our benedictions gild,
The hearts of all its givers warm
With love by freezing years unchilled.

With eye undimmed, with strength unworn,
Still toiling in your Master's field,
Before you wave the growths unshorn,
Their ripened harvest yet to yield.

True servant of the Heavenly Sire,
To you our tried affection clings,
Bids you still labor, still aspire,
But clasps your feet and steals their wings.

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