Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Aug 29, 1809 - Oct 7, 1894


The Poet's Lot

by Oliver Wendell Holmes

What is a poet's love? --
To write a girl a sonnet
To get a ring, or some such thing,
And fustianize upon it.

What is a poet's fame? --
Sad hints about his reason,
And sadder praise from garreteers,
To be returned in season.

Where go the poet's lines? --
Answer, ye evening tapers!
Ye auburn locks, ye golden curls,
Speak from your folded papers!

Child of the ploughshare, smile;
Boy of the counter, grieve not,
Though muses round thy trundle-bed
Their broidered tissue weave not.

The poet's future holds
No civic wreath above him;
Nor slated roof, nor varnished chaise,
Nor wife nor child to love him.

Maid of the village inn,
Who workest woe on satin,
(The grass in black, the graves in green,
The epitaph in Latin,)

Trust not to them who say
In stanzas, they adore thee;
O rather sleep in church-yard clay,
With urns and cherubs o'er thee!


Copyright 1861
Boston: Ticknor And Fields