Oliver Wendell Holmes

(1809-1894 / United States)

A Good Time Going!


BRAVE singer of the coming time,
Sweet minstrel of the joyous present,
Crowned with the noblest wreath of rhyme,
The holly-leaf of Ayrshire's peasant,
Good by! Good by!--Our hearts and hands,
Our lips in honest Saxon phrases,
Cry, God be with him, till he stands
His feet among the English daisies!

'T is here we part;--for other eyes
The busy deck, the fluttering streamer,
The dripping arms that plunge and rise,
The waves in foam, the ship in tremor,
The kerchiefs waving from the pier,
The cloudy pillar gliding o'er him,
The deep blue desert, lone and drear,
With heaven above and home before him!

His home!--the Western giant smiles,
And twirls the spotty globe to find it;
This little speck the British Isles?
'T is but a freckle,--never mind it!
He laughs, and all his prairies roll,
Each gurgling cataract roars and chuckles,
And ridges stretched from pole to pole
Heave till they crack their iron knuckles!

But Memory blushes at the sneer,
And Honor turns with frown defiant,
And Freedom, leaning on her spear,
Laughs louder than the laughing giant
'An islet is a world,' she said,
'When glory with its dust has blended,
And Britain keeps her noble dead
Till earth and seas and skies are rended!'

Beneath each swinging forest-bough
Some arm as stout in death reposes,--
From wave-washed foot to heaven-kissed brow
Her valor's life-blood runs in roses;
Nay, let our brothers of the West
Write smiling in their florid pages,
One half her soil has walked the rest
In poets, heroes, martyrs, sages!

Hugged in the clinging billow's clasp,
From sea-weed fringe to mountain heather,
The British oak with rooted grasp
Her slender handful holds together;--
With cliffs of white and bowers of green,
And Ocean narrowing to caress her,
And hills and threaded streams between,--
Our little mother isle, God bless her!

In earth's broad temple where we stand,
Fanned by the eastern gales that brought us,
We hold the missal in our hand,
Bright with the lines our Mother taught us.
Where'er its blazoned page betrays
The glistening links of gilded fetters,
Behold, the half-turned leaf displays
Her rubric stained in crimson letters!

Enough! To speed a parting friend
'T is vain alike to speak and listen;--
Yet stay,--these feeble accents blend
With rays of light from eyes that glisten.
Good by! once more,--and kindly tell
In words of peace the young world's story,--
And say, besides, we love too well
Our mothers' soil, our fathers' glory.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

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