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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

The Voiceless

By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

WE count the broken lyres that rest

Where the sweet wailing singers slumber,

But o’er their silent sister’s breast

The wild-flowers who will stoop to number?

A few can touch the magic string,

And noisy Fame is proud to win them:—

Alas for those that never sing,

But die with all their music in them!

Nay, grieve not for the dead alone

Whose song has told their hearts’ sad story,—

Weep for the voiceless, who have known

The cross without the crown of glory!

Not where Leucadian breezes sweep

O’er Sappho’s memory-haunted billow,

But where the glistening night-dews weep

On nameless sorrow’s church-yard pillow.

O hearts that break and give no sign

Save whitening lip and fading tresses,

Till Death pours out his longed-for wine

Slow dropped from Misery’s crushing presses,—

If singing breath or echoing chord

To every hidden pang were given,

What endless melodies were poured,

As sad as earth, as sweet as heaven!