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Thomas R. Lounsbury, ed. (1838–1915). Yale Book of American Verse. 1912.

Oliver Wendell Holmes 1809–1894

Oliver Wendell Holmes

92 The Last Leaf

I SAW him once before,

As he passed by the door,

And again

The pavement stones resound,

As he totters o’er the ground

With his cane.

They say that in his prime,

Ere the pruning-knife of Time

Cut him down,

Not a better man was found

By the Crier on his round

Through the town.

But now he walks the streets,

And he looks at all he meets

Sad and wan,

And he shakes his feeble head,

That it seems as if he said,

“They are gone.”

The mossy marbles rest

On the lips that he has prest

In their bloom,

And the names he loved to hear

Have been carved for many a year

On the tomb.

My grandmamma has said—

Poor old lady, she is dead

Long ago—

That he had a Roman nose,

And his cheek was like a rose

In the snow.

But now his nose is thin,

And it rests upon his chin

Like a staff,

And a crook is in his back,

And a melancholy crack

In his laugh.

I know it is a sin

For me to sit and grin

At him here;

But the old three-cornered hat,

And the breeches, and all that,

Are so queer!

And if I should live to be

The last leaf upon the tree

In the spring,—

Let them smile, as I do now,

At the old forsaken bough

Where I cling.