Verse > Anthologies > Harvard Classics > English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman
   English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
803. The Last Leaf
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
I SAW him once before,
As he passed 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 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-cornered 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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