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Oliver Wendell Holmes

Poems by Oliver Wendell Holmes


found 336 works
YES, write, if you want to, there's nothing like trying;
Who knows what a treasure your casket may hold?
I'll show you that rhyming's as easy as lying,
If you'll listen to me while the art I unfold.
Here's a book full of words; one can choose as he fancies,
As a painter his tint, as a workman his tool...
As I look from the isle, o'er its billows of green,
To the billows of foam-crested blue,
Yon bark, that afar in the distance is seen,
Half dreaming, my eyes will pursue:
Now dark in the shadow, she scatters the spray
As the chaff in the stroke of the flail...
HAS there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
If there has, take him out, without making a noise.
Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite!
Old Time is a liar! We're twenty to-night!
We're twenty! We're twenty! Who says we are more?
He's tipsy,-- young jackanapes!-- show him the door...
Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon's roar...
I WROTE some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
They were exceeding good.
They were so queer, so very queer,
I laughed as I would die...
Life is real, life is earnest,
And the shell is not its pen –
“Egg thou art, and egg remainest”
Was not spoken of the hen.
Art is long and Time is fleeting,
Be our bills then sharpened well...
THIS is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main,--
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare...
How the mountains talked together,
Looking down upon the weather,
When they heard our friend had planned his
Little trip among the Andes
How they'll bare their snowy scalps
To the climber of the Alps...
WHERE is this patriarch you are kindly greeting?
Not unfamiliar to my ear his name,
Nor yet unknown to many a joyous meeting
In days long vanished,-- is he still the same,
Or changed by years, forgotten and forgetting,
Dull-eared, dim-sighted, slow of speech and thought...
WHAT flower is this that greets the morn,
Its hues from Heaven so freshly born?
With burning star and flaming band
It kindles all the sunset land:
Oh tell us what its name may be,--
Is this the Flower of Liberty...
I saw him once before,
As he passed by the door,
And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o'er the ground
With his cane...
COME, dear old comrade, you and I
Will steal an hour from days gone by,
The shining days when life was new,
And all was bright with morning dew,
The lusty days of long ago,
When you were Bill and I was Joe...
"Man wants but little here below."
LITTLE I ask; my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
(A very plain brown stone will do,)
That I may call my own;
And close at hand is such a one...
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it -- ah, but stay,
I'll tell you what happened without delay,
Scaring the parson into fits...
If all the trees in all the woods were men;
And each and every blade of grass a pen;
If every leaf on every shrub and tree
Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea
Were changed to ink, and all earth's living tribes
Had nothing else to do but act as scribes...
I.
FALLEN with autumn's falling leaf
Ere yet his summer's noon was past,
Our friend, our guide, our trusted chief,--
What words can match a woe so vast!
And whose the chartered claim to speak...
An Unpublished Poem, by my late Latin Tutor.
In candent ire the solar splendor flames;
The foles, languescent, pend from arid rames;
His humid front the cive, anheling, wipes,
And dreams of erring on ventiferous ripes.
How dulce to vive occult to mortal eyes...
SEXTON! Martha's dead and gone;
Toll the bell! toll the bell!
Her weary hands their labor cease;
Good night, poor Martha,-- sleep in peace!
Toll the bell!
Sexton! Martha 's dead and gone...
GRANDMOTHER's mother: her age, I guess,
Thirteen summers, or something less;
Girlish bust, but womanly air;
Smooth, square forehead with uprolled hair;
Lips that lover has never kissed;
Taper fingers and slender wrist...
THERE was a giant in time of old,
A mighty one was he;
He had a wife, but she was a scold,
So he kept her shut in his mammoth fold;
And he had children three.
It happened to be an election day...
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