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The Voiceless
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)

The Rhyme Maker
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

Theme:  Final Toasts

Special Rhyme List:  Audios/Videos

Oliver 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.

Holmes' 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 court.

Nothing quite catches our modern mass media's attention like the death of a celebrity – be it an Elvis Presley, a John Lennon, or a Michael Jackson.  In this poem, Oliver Wendell Holmes speaks to us of this phenomenon . . . from a time when the telegraph was the new form of communication!

Stanza 2: “Leucadian breezes”: a reference to the Greek islands.  Sappho: Greek poetess
- S. H. Bass  

more Oliver Wendell Holmes at
An Impromptu
Mare Rebrum

Ode For A Social Meeting (with alterations)

The Lyre Of Anacreon

Stop Button Clutter!
The Voiceless
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894), American poet

We count the broken lyres that rest                          
Where the sweet wailing singers slumber,
But o'er their silent sister's breast
The wild-flowers who will stoop to number?
A few can touch the magic string,
And noisy Fame is proud to win them:
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!

Nay grieve not for the dead alone
Whose song has told their hearts' sad story, –
Weep for the voiceless, who have known
The cross without the crown of glory!
Not where Leucadian breezes sweep
O'er Sappho's memory-haunted billow,
But where the glistening night-dews weep
On nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.

O hearts that break and give no sign
Save whitening lip and fading tresses,
Till Death pours out his longed-for wine
Slow-dropped from Misery's crushing presses, –
If singing breath or echoing chord
To every hidden pang were given,
What endless melodies were poured,
As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!

from The Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes
Free E-Book at Project Gutenberg


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