TO JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
ON HIS EIGHTIETH BIRTHDAY
by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr
FRIEND, whom thy fourscore winters leave more dear
Than when life’s roseate summer on thy cheek
Burned in the flush of manhood’s manliest year,
Lonely, how lonely! is the snowy peak
Thy feet have reached, and mine have climbed so near!
Close on thy footsteps ‘mid the landscape drear
I stretch my hand thine answering grasp to seek,
Warm with the love no rippling rhymes can speak!
Look backward! From thy lofty height survey
Thy years of toil, of peaceful victories won,
Of dreams made real, largest hopes outrun!
Look forward! Brighter than earth’s morning ray
Streams the pure light of Heaven’s unsetting sun,
The unclouded dawn of life’s immortal day!