A Song Of "Twenty-Nine"

A poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes

1851

The summer dawn is breaking
On Auburn's tangled bowers,
The golden light is waking
On Harvard's ancient towers;
The sun is in the sky
That must see us do or die,
Ere it shine on the line
Of the CLASS OF '29.

At last the day is ended,
The tutor screws no more,
By doubt and fear attended
Each hovers round the door,
Till the good old Praeses cries,
While the tears stand in his eyes,
"You have passed, and are classed
With the Boys of '29."

Not long are they in making
The college halls their own,
Instead of standing shaking,
Too bashful to be known;
But they kick the Seniors' shins
Ere the second week begins,
When they stray in the way
Of the BOYS OF '29.

If a jolly set is trolling
The last Der Freischutz airs,
Or a "cannon bullet" rolling
Comes bouncing down the stairs,
The tutors, looking out,
Sigh, "Alas! there is no doubt,
'T is the noise of the Boys
Of the CLASS OF '29."

Four happy years together,
By storm and sunshine tried,
In changing wind and weather,
They rough it side by side,
Till they hear their Mother cry,
"You are fledged, and you must fly,"
And the bell tolls the knell
Of the days of '29.

Since then, in peace or trouble,
Full many a year has rolled,
And life has counted double
The days that then we told;
Yet we'll end as we've begun,
For though scattered, we are one,
While each year sees us here,
Round the board of '29.

Though fate may throw between us
The mountains or the sea,
No time shall ever wean us,
No distance set us free;
But around the yearly board,
When the flaming pledge is poured,
It shall claim every name
On the roll of '29.

To yonder peaceful ocean
That glows with sunset fires,
Shall reach the warm emotion
This welcome day inspires,
Beyond the ridges cold
Where a brother toils for gold,
Till it shine through the mine
Round the Boy of '29.

If one whom fate has broken
Shall lift a moistened eye,
We'll say, before he 's spoken -
"Old Classmate, don't you cry!
Here, take the purse I hold,
There 's a tear upon the gold -
It was mine-it is thine -
A'n't we BOYS OF '29?"

As nearer still and nearer
The fatal stars appear,
The living shall be dearer
With each encircling year,
Till a few old men shall say,
"We remember 't is the day -
Let it pass with a glass
For the CLASS OF '29."

As one by one is falling
Beneath the leaves or snows,
Each memory still recalling,
The broken ring shall close,
Till the nightwinds softly pass
O'er the green and growing grass,
Where it waves on the graves
Of the BOYS OF '29!

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