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Poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes


Song (THE stars their early vigils keep)



WRITTEN FOR THE DINNER GIVEN TO CHARLES DICKENS BY THE YOUNG MEN OF BOSTON, FEBRUARY 1, 1842

THE stars their early vigils keep,
The silent hours are near,
When drooping eyes forget to weep,Ч
Yet still we linger here;
And whatЧthe passing churl may askЧ
Can claim such wondrous power,
That Toil forgets his wonted task,
And Love his promised hour?

The Irish harp no longer thrills,
Or breathes a fainter tone;
The clarion blast from Scotland's hills,
Alas! no more is blown;
And Passion's burning lip bewails
Her Harold's wasted fire,
Still lingering o'er the dust that veils
The Lord of England's lyre.

But grieve not o'er its broken strings,
Nor think its soul hath died,
While yet the lark at heaven's gate sings,
As once o'er Avon's side;
While gentle summer sheds her bloom,
And dewy blossoms wave,
Alike o'er Juliet's storied tomb
And Nelly's nameless grave.

Thou glorious island of the sea!
Though wide the wasting flood
That parts our distant land from thee,
We claim thy generous blood;
Nor o'er thy far horizon springs
One hallowed star of fame,
But kindles, like an angel's wings,
Our western skies in flame!



Oliver Wendell Holmes


Oliver Wendell Holmes's other poems:
  1. The Cambridge Churchyard
  2. A Poem for the Meeting of the American Medical Association at New York, May 5, 1853
  3. The Treadmill Song
  4. The September Gale
  5. The Island Hunting-Song


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