Our Home–Our Country by Oliver Wendell Holmes

For The Semi-Centennial Celebration Of The
Settlement Of Cambridge, Mass., December 28, 1880

YOUR home was mine,–kind Nature’s gift;
My love no years can chill;
In vain their flakes the storm-winds sift,
The snow-drop hides beneath the drift,
A living blossom still.

Mute are a hundred long-famed lyres,
Hushed all their golden strings;
One lay the coldest bosom fires,
One song, one only, never tires
While sweet-voiced memory sings.

No spot so lone but echo knows
That dear familiar strain;
In tropic isles, on arctic snows,
Through burning lips its music flows
And rings its fond refrain.

From Pisa’s tower my straining sight
Roamed wandering leagues away,
When lo! a frigate’s banner bright,
The starry blue, the red, the white,
In far Livorno’s bay.

Hot leaps the life-blood from my heart,
Forth springs the sudden tear;
The ship that rocks by yonder mart
Is of my land, my life, a part,–
Home, home, sweet home, is here!

Fades from my view the sunlit scene,–
My vision spans the waves;
I see the elm-encircled green,
The tower,–the steeple,–and, between,
The field of ancient graves.

There runs the path my feet would tread
When first they learned to stray;
There stands the gambrel roof that spread
Its quaint old angles o’er my head
When first I saw the day.

The sounds that met my boyish ear
My inward sense salute,–
The woodnotes wild I loved to hear,–
The robin’s challenge, sharp and clear,–
The breath of evening’s flute.

The faces loved from cradle days,–
Unseen, alas, how long!
As fond remembrance round them plays,
Touched with its softening moonlight rays,
Through fancy’s portal throng.

And see! as if the opening skies
Some angel form had spared
Us wingless mortals to surprise,
The little maid with light-blue eyes,
White necked and golden haired!

. . . . . . . . . .

So rose the picture full in view
I paint in feebler song;
Such power the seamless banner knew
Of red and white and starry blue
For exiles banished long.

Oh, boys, dear boys, who wait as men
To guard its heaven-bright folds,
Blest are the eyes that see again
That banner, seamless now, as then,–
The fairest earth beholds!

Sweet was the Tuscan air and soft
In that unfading hour,
And fancy leads my footsteps oft
Up the round galleries, high aloft
On Pisa’s threatening tower.

And still in Memory’s holiest shrine
I read with pride and joy,
“For me those stars of empire shine;
That empire’s dearest home is mine;
I am a Cambridge boy!”

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