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Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
110 What do you think the parson found,
When he got up and stared around?
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
As if it had been to the mill and ground.
You see, of course, if you’re not a dunce,
115 How it went to pieces all at once,—
All at once, and nothing first,-
Just as bubbles do when they burst.

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OLD IRONSIDES
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,

And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky:

5 Beneath it rung the battle shout,

And burst the cannon's roar:—

The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more

Her deck, once red with heroes' blood,
10 Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o'er the flood,
And waves were white below,
No more shall feel the victor's tread,
Or know the conquered knee;—
15 The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

O better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
20 And there should be her grave:
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

HELPS TO STUDY

Historical: Old Ironsides was the name given the frigate Constitution. It was proposed by the Secretary of the Navy to dispose of the ship as it had become unfit for service. Popular sentiment did not approve of this. It was said a ship which was the pride of the nation should continue to be the property of the Navy and be rebuilt for service when needed. Holmes wrote this poem at the time of this discussion.

Notes and Questions Of what does the first stanza treat? | What is meant by lines 15 and 16?

The second? Where does Holmes say should be What does the third stanza tell the grave of Old Ironsides?

you? Why? To what does “tattered ensign” Explain lines 23 and 24.

refer? Which lines do you like best ? What is “The meteor of the ocean Why?

air 7”?

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HAs there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
If there has, take him out, without making a noise.
Hang the Almanac's cheat and the Catalogue's spite
Old Time is a liar ! We're twenty tonight!

S We're twenty We’re twenty! Who says we are more?
He's tipsy, young jackanapes'—show him the door!
“Gray temples at twenty P”—Yes! white if we please;
Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there's nothing can
freeze 1

Was it snowing I spoke off Excuse the mistake

10 Look close, you will see not a sign of a flake!
We want some new garlands for those we have shed,—
And these are white roses in place of the red.

We've a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told,
Of talking (in public) as if we were old:—

15 That boy we call “Doctor,” and this we call “Judge”;
It's a neat little fiction,-of course it's all fudge.

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That fellow's the “Speaker,”—the one on the right;

“Mr. Mayor,” my young one, how are you tonight?

That's our “Member of Congress,” we say when we chaff;

There's the “Reverend” What’s his name?—don’t make me laugh.

That boy with the grave mathematical look
Made believe he had written a wonderful book,
And the Roy AL SocIETY thought it was true!
So they chose him right in; a good joke it was, too!

There's a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain,
That could harness a team with a logical chain;
When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire,
We called him “The Justice,” but now he’s “The Squire.”

And there’s a nice youngster of excellent pith,
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free-
Just read on his medal, “My country, . . . of thee!”

You hear that boy laughing?—You think he's all fun;
But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done;
The children laugh loud as they troop to his call,
And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all !

Yes, we’re boys, always playing with tongue or with pen,_
And I sometimes have asked,—Shall we ever be men P
Shall we always be youthful, and laughing, and gay,
Till the last dear companion drops Smiling away?

Then here’s to our boyhood, its gold and its gray !
The stars of its winter, the dews of its May 1
And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
Dear Father, take care of thy children, THE BOYS.

HELPS TO STUDY

Historical: This poem was read by Oliver Wendell Holmes at a re

union of his college class thirty years after their graduation.

Notes and Questions

Who were “the boys”? What was the ‘‘Almanac's cheat” 2 What catalogue do you think Holmes meant? How could it be interpreted as showing spite against “the boys”? How did the poet defend “gray temples at twenty’’? What was the significance in early times of the garland or wreath upon the head? What do you think the garlands which the poet imagines his classmates “have shed ” represent? Of what does Holmes say their new garlands were made? What might the “new garlands” represent?

What fancy does the poet carry out in the next stanza 3 What song did the ‘‘nice youngSter’’. Write? What is his full name? What word is omitted from the line of the song quoted by Holmes? How do you think Holmes felt toward the laughing ‘‘boy’’? Why do you think so? Can you name anything besides ‘‘tongue and pen?” with which men may be said to play? What time of life is meant by the “gold”? By the “gray”? How much of this poem is fun? Which stanza do you like best? Why? What do you know about Oliver Wendell Holmes from this poemf

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The pavement stones resound, 5 As he totters o'er the ground With his cane.

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