Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Aug 29, 1809 - Oct 7, 1894

 

To A Blank Sheet Of Paper

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wan-visaged thing! thy virgin leaf
To me looks more than deadly pale,
Unknowing what may stain thee yet, --
A poem or a tale.

Who can thy unborn meaning scan?
Can Seer or Sibyl read thee now?
No, -- seek to trace the fate of man
Writ on his infant brow.

Love may light on thy snowy cheek,
And shake his Eden-breathing plumes
Then shalt thou tell how Lelia smiles,
Or Angelina blooms.

Satire may lift his bearded lance,
Forestalling Time's slow-moving scythe,
And, scattered on thy little field,
Disjointed bards may writhe.

Perchance a vision of the night,
Some grizzled spectre, gaunt and thin,
Or sheeted corpse, may stalk along,
Or skeleton may grin!

If it should be in pensive hour
Some sorrow-moving theme I try,
Ah, maiden, how thy tears will fall,
For all I doom to die!

But if in merry mood I touch
Thy leaves, then shall the sight of thee
Sow smiles as thick on rosy lips
As ripples on the sea.

The Weekly press shall gladly stoop
To bind thee up among its sheaves;
The Daily steal thy shining ore,
To gild its leaden leaves.

Thou hast no tongue, yet thou canst speak,
Till distant shores shall hear the sound
Thou hast no life, yet thou canst breathe
Fresh life on all around.

Thou art the arena of the wise,
The noiseless battle-ground of fame;
The sky where halos may be wreathed
Around the humblest name.

Take, then, this treasure to thy trust,
To win some idle reader's smile,
Then fade and moulder in the dust,
Or swell some bonfire's crackling pile.

Source:

Poems
Copyright 1861
Boston: Ticknor And Fields
 

Recommended Works

Thou Art, O God - Thomas MooreEndymion - Henry Wadsworth LongfellowLost At Sea - Thomas Bailey AldrichCold And Quiet - Jean IngelowSpoken - Helen Hunt JacksonRain And Wind - Madison Julius CaweinThe Favorite Flower - Celia ThaxterThe Old Clock On The Stairs - Henry Wadsworth LongfellowFalse Poets And True - Thomas HoodThe House Of Clouds - Elizabeth Barrett BrowningThe Soul's Expression - Elizabeth Barrett BrowningThe Sandpiper - Celia ThaxterWhat Love Is - Ella Wheeler WilcoxSand Of The Desert In An Hour-Glass - Henry Wadsworth LongfellowFishing - Ella Wheeler WilcoxTo A Blank Sheet Of Paper - Oliver Wendell HolmesTo Autumn - John KeatsRemember The Alamo - Rose Hartwick ThorpeAchievements - Ella Wheeler WilcoxO Lay Thy Hand In Mine, Dear! - Gerald MasseyThe Family - Bayard TaylorTis Sweet To Think - Thomas MooreWoman - Ella Wheeler WilcoxWe Are Seven - William WordsworthThe Beautiful Land Of Nod - Ella Wheeler WilcoxIn Flanders Fields - John McCraeThe Rock-A-By Lady - Eugene FieldAvenging and Bright Fell The Swift Sword Of Erin - Thomas MooreWhat We Need - Ella Wheeler WilcoxThe Bells - Edgar Allan PoeMomus, God Of Laughter - Ella Wheeler WilcoxEpitaph On Holy Willie - Robert BurnsThe Wife Speaks - Elizabeth StoddardThe Husband Speaks - Elizabeth StoddardLove's Extravagance - Ella Wheeler WilcoxMistakes - Ella Wheeler WilcoxThe Iron Pen - Henry Wadsworth LongfellowConstancy - Ella Wheeler WilcoxWedded Love - James NackMadeline - Henry TimrodThe Rose - James Whitcomb RileyThe Mother's Pride - James NackEndure - Achsa White SpragueContentment - Oliver Wendell HolmesThe Salt Sea-Wind - Ella Wheeler WilcoxDaily Trials - Oliver Wendell HolmesStrange Meeting - Wilfred OwenThe Bells of Lynn - Henry Wadsworth LongfellowWas, Is, And Yet-To-Be - Ella Wheeler WilcoxThe Flowers In The Cemetery - Hannah Flagg Gould
Link To This Page