Poems by Oliver Wendell Holmes

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"Lucy." - The old familiar name
Read at a meeting of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Who is the shepherd sent to lead,
Yes, write, if you want to, there's nothing like trying;
How the mountains talked together,
Brave singer of the coming time,
Angel of Peace, thou hast wandered too long!
Come, heap the fagots! Ere we go
Read At The Meeting Held At Music Hall, February 8, 1876, In Memory Of Dr. Samuel G. Howe
To Charles Wentworth Upham, The Following Metrical Essay Is Affectionately Inscribed.
Complied With After The Dinner At President Everett's Inauguration
The dinner-bell, the dinner-bell
Yes, we knew we must lose him, - though friendship may claim
Angel of Death! extend thy silent reign!
I hold a letter in my hand, -
Phi Beta Kappa, June 26, 1873
A still, sweet, placid, moonlight face,
Thoughtful in youth, but not austere in age;
This poem, published anonymously in the Boston Evening Transcript, was claimed by several persons, three, if I remember correctly, whose names I have or have had, but never thought it worth while to publish.
Yes, dear Enchantress, - wandering far and long,
The sun-browned girl, whose limbs recline
Cabin Passenger. Man at Wheel.
A triple health to Friendship, Science, Art,
O Bios Bpaxus, - life is but a song;
The pledge of Friendship! it is still divine,
The land of sunshine and of song!
When the Puritans came over
As o'er the glacier's frozen sheet
Lord of all being! throned afar,
The painter's and the poet's fame
Once more Orion and the sister Seven
"Dumque virent genua
So the gray Boatswain of 'Twenty-nine
Hang out our banners on the stately tower
In candent ire the solar splendor flames;
"Purpureos spargam flores."
Shine soft, ye trembling tears of light
One broad, white sail in Spezzia's treacherous bay
Come, spread your wings, as I spread mine,
The Play is over. While the light
While far along the eastern sky
When Eve had led her lord away,
It is not what we say or sing,
Though watery deserts hold apart
Sire, son, and grandson; so the century glides;
"While stands the Coliseum, Rome shall stand;
If sometimes in the dark blue eye,
Not premeditated
O Lord of Hosts! Almighty King!
We will not speak of years to-night, -
Now, smiling friends and shipmates all,
When treason first began the strife
August 29, 1859
I suppose it's myself that you're making allusion to
Brothers, whom we may not reach
One word to the guest we have gathered to greet!
We welcome you, Lords of the Land of the Sun!
As the voice of the watch to the mariner's dream,
The house was crammed from roof to floor,
A lovely show for eyes to see
This is our place of meeting; opposite
Sister, we bid you welcome, - we who stand
The glory has passed from the goldenrod's plume,
The waves unbuild the wasting shore;
Whatever I do, and whatever I say,
Prelude To "Illustrated Poems"
I may not rightly call thy name, -
At My Fireside
For him the Architect of all
Come, dear old comrade, you and I
When life hath run its largest round
Proud of her clustering spires, her new-built towers,
She has gone, - she has left us in passion and pride, -
O even-handed Nature! we confess
If all the trees in all the woods were men;
Yes, tyrants, you hate us, and fear while you hate
"Man wants but little here below"
Oh, there are times
The first messages received through the submarine cable were sent by an electrical expert, a mysterious personage who signed himself De Sauty.
Yes, dear departed, cherished days,
I cannot tell the story of Dorothy Q. more simply in prose than I have told it in verse, but I can add something to it. Dorothy was the daughter of Judge Edmund Quincy, and the niece of Josiah Quincy, junior, the young patriot and orator who died jus
Winter's cold drift lies glistening o'er his breast;
At A Bookstore
It may be, yes, it must be, Time that brings
Day hath put on his jacket, and around
The feeble sea-birds, blinded in the storms,
Fast as the rolling seasons bring
Kiss mine eyelids, beauteous Morn,
Farewell, for the bark has her breast to the tide,
It is a pity and a shame - alas! alas! I know it is,
January 25, 1859
Dear friends, we are strangers; we never before
Four summers coined their golden light in leaves,
Proudly, beneath her glittering dome,
The mountains glitter in the snow
What makes the Healing Art divine?
Afar he sleeps whose name is graven here,
I believe that the copies of verses I've spun,
Land where the banners wave last in the sun,
Sweet Mary, I have never breathed
Washed in the blood of the brave and the blooming,
'T is like stirring living embers when, at eighty, one remembers
The dirge is played, the throbbing death-peal rung,
I like, at times, to hear the steeples' chimes
Dedicated By A Contributor To The Collegian, 1830, To The Editors Of The Harvard Advocate, 1876.
Ere yet the warning chimes of midnight sound,
Giver of all that crowns our days,
Once more, ye sacred towers,
Not with the anguish of hearts that are breaking
Thou Gracious Power, whose mercy lends
Where, girt around by savage foes,
O God! in danger's darkest hour,
Behold the shape our eyes have known!
Sung By The Congregation To The Tune Of Tallis's Evening Hymn
O Love Divine, that stooped to share
Angel of love, for every grief
(by supposition)
I LIKE YOU Met I LOVE You, face to face;
She twirled the string of golden beads,
He was all sunshine; in his face
No mystic charm, no mortal art,
Breakfast at the Century Club, New York, May, 1879.
As through the forest, disarrayed
Not bed-time yet! The night-winds blow,
Vex not the Muse with idle prayers, -
God bless our Fathers' Land!
I pray thee by the soul of her that bore thee,
The friends that are, and friends that were,
Trained in the holy art whose lifted shield
Read At The Two Hundredth Anniversary
Is thy name Mary, maiden fair?
As Clemence! when I saw thee last
(Bar Harbor)
When legislators keep the law,
Slowly the mist o'er the meadow was creeping,
I 'm ashamed, - that 's the fact, - it 's a pitiful case, -
Oh! I did love her dearly,
Come back to your mother, ye children, for shame,
Sexton! Martha's dead and gone;
I thank you, MR. PRESIDENT, you've kindly broke the ice;
Here! sweep these foolish leaves away,
O my lost beauty! - hast thou folded quite
How long will this harp which you once loved to hear
My aunt! my dear unmarried aunt!
Through my north window, in the wintry weather, -
Slow toiling upward from' the misty vale,
Listen, young heroes! your country is calling!
There is no time like the old time, when you and I were young,
Perhaps too far in these considerate days
I was sitting with my microscope, upon my parlor rug,
With Slight Alterations By A Teetotaler - (...)
Celebration Of The Mercantile Library Association, February 22, 1856
And can it be you've found a place
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down
This ancient silver bowl of mine, it tells of good old times,
Introduction To A Collection Of Poems By different Authors
"Will I come?" That is pleasant! I beg to inquire
One country! Treason's writhing asp
Thus I lift the sash, so long
Old time, in whose bank we deposit our notes,
H. W. L.
For The Semi-Centennial Celebration Of The Settlement Of Cambridge, Mass., December 28, 1880
We trust and fear, we question and believe,
I give you the health of the oldest friend
One memory trembles on our lips;
Let greener lands and bluer skies,
Facts respecting an old arm-chair.
Father of Mercies, Heavenly Friend,
Three paths there be where Learning's favored sons,
Say not the Poet dies!
Welcome, thrice welcome is thy silvery gleam,
Twice had the mellowing sun of autumn crowned
Wendell Phillips, Orator; Charles Godfrey Leland, Poet
Dear friends, left darkling in the long eclipse
Reader - gentle - if so be
A prologue? Well, of course the ladies know, -
"Qui vive?" The sentry's musket rings,
To My Old Readers
I saw the curl of his waving lash,
From the first gleam of morning to the gray
An After-Dinner Prescription Taken By The Massachusetts Medical Society, At Their Meeting Held May 25, 1870
He sleeps not here; in hope and prayer
New England, we love thee; no time can erase
"Who claims our Shakespeare from that realm unknown,
Like the tribes of Israel,
(New York Mercantile Library Association, November, 1842)
The stars their early vigils keep,
The piping of our slender, peaceful reeds
Winter is past; the heart of Nature warms
Intra Muros
No fear lest praise should make us proud!
Strange! that one lightly whispered tone
As I look from the isle, o'er its billows of green,
While in my simple gospel creed
Time is a thief who leaves his tools behind him;
I Don't think I feel much older; I'm aware I'm rather gray,
It was a tall young oysterman lived by the river-side,
The Banker's dinner is the stateliest feast
When o'er the street the morning peal is flung
I stood On Sarum's treeless plain,
Look out! Look out, boys! Clear the track!
Our ancient church! its lowly tower,
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
The Comet! He is on his way,
They tell us that the Muse is soon to fly hence,
Ah, here it is! the sliding rail
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
Now, by the blessed Paphian queen,
There was a giant in time of old,
Ye that have faced the billows and the spray
When rose the cry "Great Pan is dead!"
Boston Common, December 6, 1882 During The Transit Of Venus
What flower is this that greets the morn,
The fount the Spaniard sought in vain
She gathered at her slender waist
When Advent dawns with lessening days,
For The Meeting Of The Massachusetts Medical Society, 1859
I wrote some lines once on a time
The folks, that on the first of May
'T was a vision of childhood that came with its dawn,
Where is this patriarch you are kindly greeting?
No more the summer floweret charms,
Though young no more, we still would dream
Now, men of the North! will you join in the strife
I saw him once before,
W. W. Swain
I sometimes sit beneath a tree
Yes! the vacant chairs tell sadly we are going, going fast,
Not in the world of light alone,
What ailed young Lucius? Art had vainly tried
The minstrel of the classic lay
Written after a general pruning of the trees around Harvard College. A little poem, on a similar occasion, may be found in the works of Swift, from which, perhaps, the idea was borrowed; although I was as much surprised as amused to meet with it some
No life worth naming ever comes to good
Yon whey-faced brother, who delights to wear
A sick man's chamber, though it often boast
How sweet the sacred legend - if unblamed
There are three ways in which men take
There was a sound of hurrying feet,
Meeting Of The Berkshire Horticultural Society, At Stockbridge, September 13,1854
Here's the old cruiser, 'Twenty-nine,
Do you know the Old Man of the Sea, of the Sea?
The curtain rose; in thunders long and loud
This shred of song you bid me bring
Illustration Of A Picture
In the little southern parlor of the house you may have seen
Devoutest of My Sunday friends,
The noon of summer sheds its ray
I must leave thee, lady sweet
How beauteous is the bond
Dearest, a look is but a ray
In the hour of twilight shadows
Anniversary Of The Berkshire Agricultural Society, October 4, 1849
What is a poet's love? -
Not charity we ask,
Lady, life's sweetest lesson wouldst thou learn,
These hallowed precincts, long to memory dear,
Is man's the only throbbing heart that hides
I'm not a chicken; I have seen
"How many have gone?" was the question of old
This "sentiment" was read on the same occasion as the "Family Record," which immediately follows it. The latter poem is the dutiful tribute of a son to his father and his father's ancestors, residents of Woodstock from its first settlement.
"Bring me my broken harp," he said;
Precisely. I see it. You all want to say
It was the stalwart butcher man,
The sun stepped down from his golden throne.
Who of all statesmen is his country's pride,
See how yon flaming herald treads
There was a young man in Boston town,
Yet in the darksome crypt I left so late,
Dedicated To The Stay-At-Home Rangers
There's a thing that grows by the fainting flower,
The stars are rolling in the sky,
As Life's unending column pours,
Behold the rocky wall
We count the broken lyres that rest
The two proud sisters of the sea,
If every tongue that speaks her praise
In poisonous dens, where traitors hide
Wan-Visaged thing! thy virgin leaf
Poor conquered monarch! though that haughty glance
The seed that wasteful autumn cast
I Love to hear thine earnest voice,
Thou who hast taught the teachers of mankind
At A Dinner Given Him On His Eightieth Birthday, December 12, 1885
Danvers, 1866
Dear Governor, if my skiff might brave
Our Poet, who has taught the Western breeze
I bring the simplest pledge of love,
This is your month, the month of "perfect days,"
Friend, whom thy fourscore winters leave more dear
You know "The Teacups," that congenial set
Nay, blame me not; I might have spared
At The Dinner To The President, Boston, June 26, 1877
Who Presented Me With A Silver Loving Cup On The Twenty-Ninth Of August, M Dccc Lxxxix
When evening's shadowy fingers fold
It may be so, - perhaps thou hast
Well, Miss, I wonder where you live,
Too young for love?
At the meeting of the New York Harvard Club, February 21, 1878.
Her hands are cold; her face is white;
April 27,1861
Flag of the heroes who left us their glory,
"Only a housemaid!" She looked from the kitchen, -
I was thinking last night, as I sat in the cars,
Translation From The Eneid, Book I.
While fond, sad memories all around us throng,
'T is midnight: through my troubled dream
Chicago sounds rough to the maker of verse;
Shadowed so long by the storm-cloud of danger,
Bright on the banners of lily and rose
I have come with my verses - I think I may claim
That age was older once than now,
From The Young Astronomer's Poem