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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
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
phenomenon . . . from a time when the telegraph was the new form of
2: “Leucadian breezes”: a reference to the Greek islands. Sappho: Greek poetess
- S. H. Bass
Wendell Holmes at vintagewinepoems.com
For A Social Meeting (with alterations)
Lyre Of Anacreon
Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894), American poet
count the broken lyres that rest
the sweet wailing singers slumber,
o'er their silent sister's breast
wild-flowers who will stoop to number?
few can touch the magic string,
noisy Fame is proud to win them:
for those that never sing,
die with all their music in them!
grieve not for the dead alone
song has told their hearts' sad story, –
for the voiceless, who have known
cross without the crown of glory!
where Leucadian breezes sweep
Sappho's memory-haunted billow,
where the glistening night-dews weep
nameless sorrow's churchyard pillow.
hearts that break and give no sign
whitening lip and fading tresses,
Death pours out his longed-for wine
from Misery's crushing presses, –
singing breath or echoing chord
every hidden pang were given,
endless melodies were poured,
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