Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
VIII. Wedded Love
The Old Man Dreams
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
 
O FOR one hour of youthful joy!
  Give back my twentieth spring!
I ’d rather laugh a bright-haired boy
  Than reign a gray-beard king!
 
Off with the spoils of wrinkled age!        5
  Away with learning’s crown!
Tear out life’s wisdom-written page,
  And dash its trophies down!
 
One moment let my life-blood stream
  From boyhood’s fount of flame!        10
Give me one giddy, reeling dream
  Of life all love and fame!
 
My listening angel heard the prayer,
  And, calmly smiling, said,
“If I but touch thy silvery hair,        15
  Thy hasty wish has sped.
 
“But is there nothing in thy track
  To bid thee fondly stay,
While the swift seasons hurry back
  To find the wished-for day?”        20
 
Ah! truest soul of womankind!
  Without thee what were life?
One bliss I cannot leave behind:
  I ’ll take—my—precious—wife!
 
The angel took a sapphire pen        25
  And wrote in rainbow dew,
“The man would be a boy again,
  And be a husband, too!”
 
“And is there nothing yet unsaid
  Before the change appears?        30
Remember, all their gifts have fled
  With those dissolving years!”
 
“Why, yes; for memory would recall
  My fond paternal joys;
I could not bear to leave them all:        35
  I ’ll take—my—girl—and—boys!”
 
The smiling angel dropped his pen—
  “Why, this will never do;
The man would be a boy again,
  And be a father, too!”        40
 
And so I laughed—my laughter woke
  The household with its noise—
And wrote my dream, when morning broke,
  To please the gray-haired boys.
 
 
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