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And a crook is in his back,
In his laugh.
I know it is a sin
At him here;
Are so queer!
And if I should live to be
In the spring,
Where I cling
6. — “THE BOYS."
[This brilliantly sparkling poem commemorates a festal meeting of the Harvard class to which Dr. Holmes belonged (the class of 1829), long after the graduates had ceased to be “boys," – in which condition, however, the poet insists on keeping them. The sly humo and drollery of the piece will be readily appreciated.]
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!1 Old Time is a liar! We're twenty 3 to-night!
i the Catalogue's spite: that is, 2 Time. Note the personification. the telltale college catalogue which What suffix in “liar" ? records the birth-date of the gradu- 3 twenty: that is, twenty years ates.
We're twenty! We're twenty! Who says we are more? He's tipsy,— young jackanapes !1—show him the door!
Gray temples at twenty?” —Yes! white if we please : Where the snowflakes falls thickest, there's nothing
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 2 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.3
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; 4 There's the “Reverend ” What's his name?- don't
make me laugh.
That boy with the grave mathematical look
1 jackanapes (from jack, a saucy 3 fudge (colloquialism), a madechap, and ape), an impertinent fel- up story; nonsense. low.
4 chaff (a corruption of the verb, 2 these are white roses. Ex- to chafe, to vex), to make fun of, or plain.
ridicule, by light idle language.
And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was true !
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
And there's a nice youngster of excellent pith, — Fate tried to conceal him 3 by naming him Smith ;4 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
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
Yes, we're boys, — always playing with tongue or
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?
1 with a three-decker brain. Smith (born in Boston in 1808), a Explain this forcibly descriptive classmate of Dr. Holmes, and aumetaphor.
thor of numerous hynins and pith, mental vigor.
lyrics, among which are, “My 8 tried to conceal him. What country, 'tis of thee,” “ Yes, my. is the joke?
native land, I love thee," and 4 Smith. Dr. Samuel Francis | “The morning light is breaking.”
Then here's to our boyhood, its gold and its gray !1
7.- PROSE BRILLIANTS FROM HOLMES.
The wider the intellect, the larger and simpler the expressions in which its knowledge is embodied.
Beware of rash criticisms: the rough and stringent fruit you condemn may be an autumn or a winter pear, and that which you picked up beneath the same bough in August may have been only its worm-eaten windfalls.
What a man wants to do, in talking with a stranger, is to get and to give as much of the best and most real life that belongs to the two talkers as the time will let him.
Talk about those subjects you have had long in your mind, and listen to what others say about subjects you have studied but recently. Knowledge and timber shouldn't be much used till they are seasoned.
How we all like the spurting up of a fountain, seemingly against the law that makes water everywhere
1 its gold and its gray.
Ex 3 Dear Father ... Boys. Note plain.
how the poet rises from the playour life-lasting toys. Give ful tone to this lofty and solemn the meaning of this metaphor. strain.
slide, roll, leap, tumble headlong, to get as low as the earth will let it! That is genius. But what is this transient upward movement, which gives us the glitter and the rainbow, to that unsleeping, all-present force of gravity, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever (if the universe be eternal), — the great outspread hand of God himself, forcing all things down into their places, and keeping them there? Such, in smaller proportion, is the force of character to the fitful movements of genius, as they are or have been linked to each other in many a household, where one name was historic, and the other — let me say the nobler- unknown, save by some faint reflected ray, borrowed from its lustrous companion.
The grandest objects of sense and thought are common to all climates and civilizations. The sky, the woods, the waters, the storms, life, death, love, the hope and vision of eternity, — these are images that write themselves in poetry in every soul which has any thing of the divine gift.
I know nothing in English or any other literature more admirable than that sentiment of Sir Thomas Browne, "Every man truly lives, so long as he acts his nature, or some way makes good the faculties of himself.” I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.