The Two Streams

By Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 1809–1894 Oliver Wendell Holmes
   Behold the rocky wall
   That down its sloping sides
Pours the swift rain-drops, blending, as they fall,
   In rushing river-tides!

   Yon stream, whose sources run
   Turned by a pebble’s edge,
Is Athabasca, rolling toward the sun
   Through the cleft mountain-ledge.

   The slender rill had strayed,
   But for the slanting stone,
To evening’s ocean, with the tangled braid
   Of foam-flecked Oregon.

   So from the heights of Will
   Life’s parting stream descends,
And, as a moment turns its slender rill,
   Each widening torrent bends,—

   From the same cradle’s side,
   From the same mother’s knee,—
One to long darkness and the frozen tide,
   One to the Peaceful Sea!

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Poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 1809–1894

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Rhymed Stanza

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 Nature, Seas, Rivers, & Streams

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Metaphor, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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