Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
 
261. From “The Iron Gate”
 
By Oliver Wendell Holmes
 
 
AS on the gauzy wings of fancy flying
  From some far orb I track our watery sphere,
Home of the struggling, suffering, doubting, dying,
  The silvered globule seems a glistening tear.
 
But Nature lends her mirror of illusion        5
  To win from saddening scenes our age-dimmed eyes,
And misty day-dreams blend in sweet confusion
  The wintry landscape and the summer skies.
 
So when the iron portal shuts behind us,
  And life forgets us in its noise and whirl,        10
Visions that shunned the glaring noonday find us,
  And glimmering starlight shows the gates of pearl.
 
I come not here your morning hour to sadden,
  A limping pilgrim, leaning on his staff,—
I, who have never deemed it sin to gladden        15
  This vale of sorrows with a wholesome laugh.
 
If word of mine another’s gloom has brightened,
  Through my dumb lips the heaven-sent message came;
If hand of mine another’s task has lightened,
  It felt the guidance that it dares not claim.        20
 
But, O my gentle sisters, O my brothers,
  These thick-sown snow-flakes hint of toil’s release;
These feebler pulses bid me leave to others
  The tasks once welcome; evening asks for peace.
 
Time claims his tribute; silence now is golden;        25
  Let me not vex the too long suffering lyre;
Though to your love untiring still beholden,
  The curfew tells me—cover up the fire.
 

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