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Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

To the Teachers of America

By Oliver Wendell Holmes


TEACHERS of teachers! Yours the task,
Noblest that noble minds can ask,
High up Aonia's murmurous mount,
To watch, to guard the sacred fount
That feeds the streams below;
To guide the hurrying flood that fills
A thousand silvery rippling rills
In ever-widening flow.

Rich is the harvest from the fields
That bounteous Nature kindly yields,
But fairer growths enrich the soil
Ploughed deep by thought's unwearied toil
In Learning's broad domain.
And where the leaves, the flowers, the fruits,
Without your watering at the roots,
To fill each branching vein?

Welcome! the Author's firmest friends,
Your voice the surest Godspeed lends.
Of you the growing mind demands
The patient care, the guiding hands,
Through all the mists of morn.
And knowing well the future's need,
Your prescient wisdom sows the seed
To flower in years unborn.

Editor's note to the Complete Poetical Works

[During a session in Boston of the National Educational Association, in February, 1893, Mr. Houghton and other publishers gave a reception for the purpose of introducing resident authors to the members of the association. It was on this occasion, February 23, 1893, that Dr. Holmes read the following verses.]