James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 29

To O. W. Holmes

By Paul Hamilton Hayne (1830–1886)

Oliver Wendell Holmes, born August 29, 1809

DEAR Doctor, whose blandly invincible pen

Has honored so often your great fellow-men

With your genius and virtues, who doubts it is true

That the world owes in turn, a warm tribute to you?

Wheresoever rare merit has lifted its head

From the cool country calm or the city’s hotbed—

You were always the first to applaud it by name,

And to smooth for its feet the harsh pathway to fame.

Wheresoever beneath the broad rule of the sun,

By some spirit elect, a grand deed has been done—

Its electrical spell like the lightning’s would dart,

Though the globe lay between, to thrill first in your heart!

Philanthropist! poet! romancer! combined—

Ay! shrewd scientist too—who shall fathom your mind,

Shall plumb that strange sea to the uttermost deep,

With its vast under-tides, and its rhythmical sweep?

You have toiled in life’s noon, till the hot blasting light

Blinds the eyes that would gauge your soul stature aright;

But when eve comes at last, ’twill be clear to mankind,

By the length of bright shadow your soul leaves behind!