Cacoethes Scribendi

By Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 1809–1894 Oliver Wendell Holmes
If all the trees in all the woods were men;
And each and every blade of grass a pen;
If every leaf on every shrub and tree
Turned to a sheet of foolscap; every sea
Were changed to ink, and all earth's living tribes
Had nothing else to do but act as scribes,
And for ten thousand ages, day and night,
The human race should write, and write, and write,
Till all the pens and paper were used up,
And the huge inkstand was an empty cup,
Still would the scribblers clustered round its brink
Call for more pens, more paper, and more ink.

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Poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 1809–1894

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Nature, Poetry & Poets, Reading & Books

Poetic Terms Couplet

Biography

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was a brilliant doctor who was well known for his witty lectures at Harvard. Also a poet and essayist, Holmes’s prose series “The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table” first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly with its inaugural issue in 1857. A year later it was published as a book, which also included some of his most memorable poetry.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Nature, Poetry & Poets, Reading & Books

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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