Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
The Last Leaf
By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
I SAW him once before,
As he pass’d by the door,
    And again
The pavement stones resound,
As he totters o’er the ground        5
    With his cane.
They say that in his prime,
Ere the pruning-knife of Time
    Cut him down,
Not a better man was found        10
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,        15
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        20
    In their bloom,
And the names he loved to hear
Have been carved for many a year
    On the tomb.
My grandmamma has said—        25
Poor old lady, she is dead
    Long ago—
That he had a Roman nose,
And his cheek was like a rose
    In the snow.        30
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        35
    In his laugh.
I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
    At him here;
But the old three-corner’d hat,        40
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,        45
Let them smile, as I do now,
At the old forsaken bough
    Where I cling.

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