Latter-Day Warnings by Oliver Wendell Holmes

WHEN legislators keep the law,
When banks dispense with bolts and looks,
When berries–whortle, rasp, and straw–
Grow bigger downwards through the box,–

When he that selleth house or land
Shows leak in roof or flaw in right,–
When haberdashers choose the stand
Whose window hath the broadest light,–

When preachers tell us all they think,
And party leaders all they mean,–
When what we pay for, that we drink,
From real grape and coffee-bean,–

When lawyers take what they would give,
And doctors give what they would take,–
When city fathers eat to live,
Save when they fast for conscience’ sake,–

When one that hath a horse on sale
Shall bring his merit to the proof,
Without a lie for every nail
That holds the iron on the hoof,–

When in the usual place for rips
Our gloves are stitched with special care,
And guarded well the whalebone tips
Where first umbrellas need repair,–

When Cuba’s weeds have quite forgot
The power of suction to resist,
And claret-bottles harbor not
Such dimples as would hold your fist,–

When publishers no longer steal,
And pay for what they stole before,–
When the first locomotive’s wheel
Rolls through the Hoosac Tunnel’s bore;–

Till then let Cumming blaze away,
And Miller’s saints blow up the globe;
But when you see that blessed day,
Then order your ascension robe.

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