Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

O
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Cacoethes Scribendi
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,
And for ten thousand ages, day and night,
The human race should write, and write, and write,
Till all the pens and paper were used up,
And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,
Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink
Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.

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The Chambered Nautilus
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,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
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Contentment
“Man wants but little here below” Little I ask; my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
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Daily Trials by a Sensitive Man
Oh, there are times
When all this fret and tumult that we hear
Do seem more stale than to the sexton’s ear
His own dull chimes.

Ding dong! ding dong!
The world is in a simmer like a sea
Over a pent volcano,—woe is me
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The Flâneur
Boston Common, December 6, 1882 during the Transit of Venus I love all sights of earth and skies,
From flowers that glow to stars that shine;
The comet and the penny show,
All curious things, above, below,
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The Last Leaf
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.

They say that in his prime,
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The Living Temple
Not in the world of light alone,
Where God has built his blazing throne,
Nor yet alone in earth below,
With belted seas that come and go,
And endless isles of sunlit green,
Is all thy Maker’s glory seen:
Look in upon thy wondrous frame,—
Eternal wisdom still the same!
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Old Ironsides
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;—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more!
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The Two Streams
Behold the rocky wall
That down its sloping sides
Pours the swift rain-drops, blending, as they fall,
In rushing river-tides!

Yon stream, whose sources run
Turned by a pebble’s edge,
Is Athabasca, rolling toward the sun
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