by: Oliver Wendell Holmes
- LASH out
a stream of blood-red wine,
- For I would drink to other days,
- And brighter shall their memory shine,
- Seen flaming through its crimson blaze!
- The roses die, the summers fade,
- But every ghost of boyhood's dream
- By nature's magic power is laid
- To sleep beneath this blood-red stream!
- It filled the purple grapes that lay,
- And drank the splendors of the sun,
- Where the long summer's cloudless day
- Is mirrored in the broad Garonne;
- It pictures still the bacchant shapes
- That saw their hoarded sunlight shed,--
- The maidens dancing on the grapes,--
- Their milk-white ankles splashed with red.
- Beneath these waves of crimson lie,
- In rosy fetters prisoned fast,
- Those flitting shapes that never die,--
- The swift-winged visions of the past.
- Kiss but the crystal's mystic rim,
- Each shadow rends its flowery chain,
- Springs in a bubble from its brim,
- And walks the chambers of the brain.
- Poor beauty! Time and fortune's wrong
- No shape nor feature may withstand;
- Thy wrecks are scattered all along,
- Like emptied sea-shells on the sand;
- Yet, sprinkled with this blushing rain,
- The dust restores each blooming girl,
- As if the sea-shells moved again
- Their glistening lips of pink and pearl.
- Here lies the home of school-boy life,
- With creaking stair and wind-swept hall,
- And, scarred by many a truant knife,
- Our old initials on the wall;
- Here rest, their keen vibrations mute,
- The shout of voices known so well,
- The ringing laugh, the wailing flute,
- The chiding of the sharp-tongued bell.
- Here, clad in burning robes, are laid
- Life's blossomed joys, untimely shed,
- And here those cherished forms have strayed
- We miss awhile, and call them dead.
- What wizard fills the wondrous glass?
- What soil the enchanted clusters grew?
- That buried passions wake and pass
- In beaded drops of fiery dew?
- Nay, take the cup of blood-red wine,--
- Our hearts can boast a warmer glow,
- Filled from a vintage more divine,
- Calmed, but not chilled, by winter's snow!
- To-night the palest wave we sip
- Rich as the priceless draught shall be
- That wet the bride of Cana's lip,--
- The wedding wine of Galilee!
MORE POEMS BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
"Mare Rubrum" is reprinted
from The Poetical Works of Oliver Wendell Holmes. Oliver
Wendell Holmes. New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1892.