|The Rhyme Maker
Wendell Holmes, Sr. was a noted physician and lecturer, as well as a
voluminous "part-time" poet. It was in his role as a
lecturer/public speaker that Holmes wrote many of his poems, and much
of his poetry bear a perspective of some special occasion.
son (“Junior”, 1831-1935) was a Justice of the United States
Supreme Court. This Supreme Court jurist inherited his father's wit,
which is often displayed in his pithy remarks and official
opinions. Junior is one of the “most-cited” justices of the
[first stanza): lay = poem
stanza]: The story of Cadmus (founder of the city of Thebes) is one
of the great “hero tales” from Greek mythology, while the tale of
Atreus (king of Mycenae) is filled with gruesome violence and
in-family intrigue. This is not the type of “stuff” of which Anacreon wrote or sang.
- S. H. Bass
Wendell Holmes at vintagewinepoems.com
For A Social Meeting (with alterations)
The Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes
Lyre Of Anacreon
Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894), American poet
minstrel of the classic lay
love and wine who sings
found the fingers run astray
touched the rebel strings.
Cadmus he would fain have sung,
Atreus and his line;
all the jocund echoes rung
songs of love and wine.
brothers! I would fain have caught
fresher fancy's gleam;
truant accents find, unsought,
old familiar theme.
Love! but not the sportive child
shaft and twanging bow,
random arrows drove us wild
threescore years ago;
Eros, with his joyous laugh,
urchin blind and bare,
Love, with spectacles and staff,
scanty, silvered hair.
heads with frosted locks are white,
roofs are thatched with snow,
red, in chilling winter's spite,
hearts and hearthstones glow.
old acquaintance, Time, drops in,
while the running sands
golden thread unheeded spin,
warms his frozen hands.
winged hours, too swift, too sweet,
waft this message o'er
all we miss, from all we meet
life's fast-crumbling shore:
that, to old affection true,
hug the narrowing chain
binds our hearts, – alas, how few
links that yet remain!
fatal touch awaits them all
turns the rocks to dust;
year to year they break and fall, –
break, but never rust.
if one note of happier strain
worn-out harp afford, –
throb that trembles, not in vain, –
memory lent its chord.
that when Fancy closed her wings
Passion quenched his fire,
Love, still echoed from the strings
from Anacreon's lyre.
from The Poetical
Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes