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OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, SR.
American author, wit and poet
(1809 - 1894)
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I should like to see any kind of a man, distinguishable from a gorilla, that some good and even pretty woman could not shape a husband out of.
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table
        [Matrimony]

Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table [Thought]

We must have a weak spot or two in a character before we can love it much. People that do not laugh or cry, or take more of anything than is good for them, or use anything but dictionary- words, are admirable subjects for biographies. But we don't care most for those flat pattern flowers that press best in the herbarium.
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table
         (ch. III, Iris) [Character]

Whatever comes from the brain carries the hue of the place it came from, and whatever comes from the heart carries the heat and color of its birthplace.
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table (ch. VI)
        [Character]

Beauty is the index of a larger fact than wisdom.
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table (II)
        [Beauty]

Truth is tough. It will not break, like a bubble, at a touch; nay, you may kick it about all day, like a football, and it will be round and full at evening.
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table (V)
        [Truth]

There are three wicks you know to the lamp of a man's life: brain, blood, and breath. Press the brain a little, its light goes out, followed by both the others. Stop the heart a minute, and out go all three of the wicks. Choke the air out of the lungs, and presently the fluid ceases to supply the other centres of flame, and all is soon stagnation, cold, and darkness.
      - Professor at the Breakfast Table (XI)
        [Health]

Yellow japanned buttercups and star-disked dandelions,--just as we see them lying in the grass, like sparks that have leaped from the kindling sun of summer.
      - Professor at the Breakfast-Table (X)
        [Flowers]

In his own verse the poet still we find,
  In his own page his memory lives enshrined,
    As in their amber sweets the smothered bees,--
      As the fair cedar, fallen before the breeze,
        Lies self-embalmed amidst the mouldering trees.
      - Songs of Many Seasons--Bryant's Seventieth Birthday
         (sts. 17 and 18) [Poets]

Soft is the breath of a maiden's Yes:
  Not the light gossamer stirs with less;
    But never a cable that holds so fast
      Through all the battles of wave and blast.
      - Songs of Many Seasons--Dorothy (II, st. 7)
        [Love]

Fast as the rolling seasons bring
  The hour of fate to those we love,
    Each pearl that leaves the broken string
      Is set in Friendship's crown above.
        As narrower grows the earthly chain,
          The circle widens in the sky;
            These are our treasures that remain,
              But those are stars that beam on high.
      - Songs of Many Seasons--Our Classmate, F.W.C.
        [Friendship]

The crack-brained bobolink courts his crazy mate,
  Poised on a bulrush tipsy with his weight.
      - Spring [Bobolinks]

A thought is often original, though you have uttered it a hundred times.
      - The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (I)
        [Thought]

See how he throws his baited lines about,
  And plays his men as anglers play their trout.
      - The Banker's Secret [Fishing]

Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith.
      - The Boys, of S.F. Smith [Names]

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!
      - The Boys (st. 9) [Age]

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
  As the swift seasons roll!
    Leave thy low-vaulted past!
      Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
        Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
          Till thou at length art free,
            Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
      - The Chambered Nautilus (st. 5) [Soul]

I never dare to write
  As funny as I can.
      - The Height of the Ridiculous [Humor]

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.
      - The Last Leaf [Hatters]

The mossy marbles rest
  On the lips that he has pressed
    In their bloom;
      And the names he loved to hear
        Have been carved for many a year
          On the tomb.
      - The Last Leaf [Death]

And silence, like a poultice, comes
  To heal the blows of sound.
      - The Music Grinder [Silence]

Where go the poet's lines?--
  Answer, ye evening tapers!
    Ye auburn locks, ye golden curls,
      Speak from your folded papers!
      - The Poet's Lot (st. 3) [Poets]

Grave is the Master's look; his forehead wears
  Thick rows of wrinkles, prints of worrying cares:
    Uneasy lies the heads of all that rule,
      His worst of all whose kingdom is a school.
        Supreme he sits; before the awful frown
          That binds his brows the boldest eye goes down;
            Not more submissive Israel heard and saw
              At Sinai's foot the Giver of the Law.
      - The School Boy [Teaching]

I love to hear thine earnest voice,
  Wherever thou art hid. . . .
    Thou say'st an undisputed thing
      In such a solemn way.
      - To an Insect [Speech]

Thou art a female, Katydid!
  I know it by the trill
    That quivers through thy piercing notes
      So petulant and shrill.
        I think there is a knot of you
          Beneath the hollow tree,
            A knot of spinster Katydids,--
              Do Katydids drink tea?
      - To an Insect [Katydids]


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