Oliver Wendell Holmes

(1809-1894 / United States)

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The Boys


HAS there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
If there has, take him out, without making a noise.
Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite!
Old Time is a liar! We're twenty to-night!

We're twenty! We're twenty! Who says we are more?
He's tipsy,-- young jackanapes!-- show him the door!
"Gray temples at twenty?"-- Yes ! white if we please;
Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there's nothing can freeze!

Was it snowing I spoke of? Excuse the mistake!
Look close,-- you will see not a sign of a flake!
We want some new garlands for those we have shed,--
And these are white roses in place of the red.

We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told,
Of talking (in public) as if we were old:--
That boy we call "Doctor," and this we call "Judge;"
It's a neat little fiction,-- of course it's all fudge.

That fellow's the "Speaker,"-- the one on the right;
"Mr. Mayor," my young one, how are you to-night?
That's our "Member of Congress," we say when we chaff;
There's the "Reverend" What's his name?-- don't make me laugh.

That boy with the grave mathematical look
Made believe he had written a wonderful book,
And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was true!
So they chose him right in; a good joke it was, too!

There's a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain,
That could harness a team with a logical chain;
When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire,
We called him "The Justice," but now he's "The Squire."

And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith,--
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,
Just read on his medal, "My country," "of thee!"

You hear that boy laughing?-- You think he's all fun;
But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done;
The children laugh loud as they troop to his call,
And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!

Yes, we're boys, --always playing with tongue or with pen,--
And I sometimes have asked,-- Shall we ever be men?
Shall we always be youthful, and laughing, and gay,
Till the last dear companion drops smiling away?

Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its gray!
The stars of its winter, the dews of its May!
And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
Dear Father, take care of thy children, THE BOYS!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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Read poems about / on: justice, children, fun, believe, sometimes, winter, fate, snow, father, song, red, fire, night, rose, smile, star, child, angel

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Comments about this poem (The Boys by Oliver Wendell Holmes )

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  • Lea Ashlay (5/23/2013 4:53:00 PM)

    what Jose explained I am amazed that you able to profit $8054 in 1 month on the internet. did you read this web link, Dub50.com (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (5/23/2010 4:08:00 AM)

    Realistically thankfully not just the rich boys club, because these aspirations seem sown into parenthood and reflect the dreams and desires of parents for daughters and sons. Many of the greatest sporting heroes, actors on film and stage, composers, writers, singers, adventurers have come from across the spectrum of society.
    Without their achievements our cultural heritage is indelibly diminished. Their triumphs successes inspire dreams hopes within a child like creativity and imagination within each generation, which enriches fosters nurtures blesses us all.
    Love also often renders both genders suddenly mysteriously young. So here’s to ‘The Purity Of Love’
    When it comes to a pure love
    age is neutralized
    we are all children
    playing in life’s playground. (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (5/23/2009 4:52:00 PM)

    Poem seems to reflect the hopes and aspirations of Fathers. Though it seems aimed at the upper crust, who joggle sons into positions. The poem does not note a worker or manual labor type position. We all have hopes for our sons. (Report) Reply

  • Mary Rich (5/23/2009 4:25:00 PM)

    i must say a 10+.....kudos to you Mr. Holmes....thanks, reminded me of my father.... this weekend him and my mother left for their final destination home. (HEAVEN) ....its been some time ago but i miss them dearly...and your poem put a smile on my face as it reminded me of him. Thankyou Great Work..! ! ! (Report) Reply

  • Lila Garner (11/29/2005 9:02:00 PM)

    Has anyone analyzed the poem and identified 'the boys'? Smith is Samuel Smith who wrote 'America', and I believe there are nine others whose names I'd like to know. (Report) Reply

  • Noha Aref (5/23/2005 4:39:00 AM)

    This is a wonderfull touching poem, and I guess it has some truthfulness in its meaning. For all men shall remain children no matter how old they turn, nor what position they ever may occupy, there is that childish thing in them, if you take, they die. (Report) Reply

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