Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Aug 29, 1809 - Oct 7, 1894


Lines Recited At The Berkshire Festival

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

Come back to your mother, ye children, for shame,
Who have wandered like truants, for riches or fame!
With a smile on her face, and a sprig in her cap,
She calls you to feast from her bountiful lap.

Come out from your alleys, your courts, and your lanes,
And breathe, like young eagles, the air of our plains;
Take a whiff from our fields, and your excellent wives
Will declare it's all nonsense insuring your lives.

Come you of the law, who can talk, if you please,
Till the man in the moon will allow it's a cheese,
And leave the old lady, that never tells lies,
To sleep with her handkerchief over her eyes.

Ye healers of men, for a moment decline
Your feats in the rhubarb and ipecac line;
While you shut up your turnpike, your neighbours can go
The old roundabout road, to the regions below.

You clerk, on whose ears are a couple of pens,
And whose head is an ant-hill of units and tens;
Though Plato denies you, we welcome you still
As a featherless biped, in spite of your quill.

Poor drudge of the city! how happy he feels,
With the burs on his legs, and the grass at his heels!
No dodger behind, his bandannas to share,
No constable grumbling, You mustn't walk there!

In yonder green meadow, to memory dear,
He slaps a mosquito and brushes a tear;
The dewdrops hang round him on blossoms and shoots,
He breathes but one sigh for his youth and his boots.

There stands the old schoolhouse, hard by the old church;
That tree at its side had the flavor of birch;
O sweet were the days of his juvenile tricks,
Though the prairie of youth had so many big licks,

By the side of yon river he weeps and he slumps.
The boots fill with water, as if they were pumps
Till, sated with rapture, he steals to his bed,
With a glow in his heart and a cold in his head.

'T is past, -- he is dreaming, -- I see him again;
The ledger returns as by legerdemain;
His neckcloth is damp with an easterly flaw,
And he holds in his fingers an omnibus straw.

He dreams the chill gust is a blossomy gale,
That the straw is a rose from his dear native vale;
And murmurs, unconscious of space and of time,
A 1. Extra-super. Ah, isn't it PRIME!

Oh what are the prizes we perish to win
To the first little shiner we caught with a pin!
No soil upon earth is so dear to our eyes
As the soil we first stirred in terrestrial pies!

Then come from all parties, and parts, to our feast;
Though not at the Astor, we'll give you at least
A bite at an apple, a seat on the grass,
And the best of old -- water -- at nothing a glass.


Copyright 1861
Boston: Ticknor And Fields