Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Aug 29, 1809 - Oct 7, 1894


De Sauty

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

An Electro-Chemical Eclogue.


Tell me, O Provincial! speak, Ceruleo-Nasal!
Lives there one De Sauty extant now among you,
Whispering Boanerges, son of silent thunder,
Holding talk with nations?

Is there a De Sauty ambulant on Tellus,
Bifid-cleft like mortals, dormient in nightcap,
Having sight, smell, hearing, food-receiving feature
Three times daily patent?

Breathes there such a being, O Ceruleo-Nasal?
Or is he a mythus, --ancient word for humbug, --
Such as Livy told about the wolf that wet-nursed
Romulus and Remus?

Was he born of woman, this alleged De Sauty?
Or a living product of galvanic action,
Like the acarus bred in Crosse's flint-solution?
Speak, thou Cyano-Rhinal!


Many things thou askest, jackknife-bearing stranger,
Much conjecturing mortal, pork-and-treacle-waster!
Pretermit thy whittling, wheel thine ear-flap toward me,
Thou shalt hear them answered.

When the charge galvanic tingled through the cable,
At the polar focus of the wire electric
Suddenly appeared a white-faced man among us:
Called himself DE SAUTY.

As the small opossum held in pouch maternal
Grasps the nutrient organ whence the term mammalia
So the unknown stranger held the wire electric,
Sucking in the current.

When the current strengthened, bloomed the pale-faced stranger,
Took no drink nor victual, yet grew fat and rosy, --
And from time to time, in sharp articulation,
Said, All Right! DE SAUTY.

From the lonely station passed the utterance, spreading
Through the pines and hemlocks to the groves of steeples,
Till the land was filled with loud reverberations
Of All Right! DE SAUTY.

When the current slackened, drooped the mystic stranger, --
Faded, faded, faded, as the stream grew weaker, --
Wasted to a shadow, with a hartshorn odor
Of disintegration.

Drops of deliquescence glistened on his forehead,
Whitened round his feet the dust of efflorescence,
Till one Monday morning, when the flow suspended,
There was no De Sauty.

Nothing but a cloud of elements organic,
C. O. H. N. Ferrum, Chlor. Flu. Sil. Potassa,
Calc. Sod. Phosph. Mag. Sulphur, Mang.(?) Alumin.(?) Cuprum, (?)
Such as man is made of.

Born of stream galvanic, with it he had perished!
There is no De Sauty now there is no current!
Give us a new cable, then again we'll hear him
Cry, All Right! DE SAUTY.


Illustrated poems of Oliver Wendell Holmes
Copyright 1885
Boston: Houghton, Mifflin And Company
New York: 11 East Seventeenth Street
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