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The September Gale
Oliver Wendell Holmes


That gale I well remember;
The day before, my kite-string snapped,
And I, my kite pursuing,
The wind whisked off my palm-leaf hat;
For me two storms were brewing!

It came as quarrels sometimes do,
When married folks get clashing;
There was a heavy sigh or two,
Before the fire was flashing, -
A little stir among the clouds,
Before they rent asunder, -
A little rocking of the trees,
And then came on the thunder.

Lord! how the ponds and rivers boiled!
They seemed like bursting craters!
And oaks lay scattered on the ground
As if they were p'taters;
And all above was in a howl,
And all below a clatter, -
The earth was like a frying-pan,
Or some such hissing matter.

It chanced to be our washing-day,
And all our things were drying;
The storm came roaring through the lines,
And set them all a flying;
I saw the shirts and petticoats
Go riding off like witches;
I lost, ah! bitterly I wept, -
I lost my Sunday breeches!

I saw them straddling through the air,
Alas! too late to win them;
I saw them chase the clouds, as if
The devil had been in them;
They were my darlings and my pride,
My boyhood's only riches, -
"Farewell, farewell," I faintly cried, -
"My breeches! Oh my breeches!"

That night I saw them in my dreams,
How changed from what I knew them!
The dews had steeped their faded threads,
The winds had whistled through them
I saw the wide and ghastly rents
Where demon claws had torn them;
A hole was in their amplest part,
As if an imp had worn them.

I have had many happy years,
And tailors kind and clever,
But those young pantaloons have gone
Forever and forever!
And not till fate has cut the last
Of all my earthly stitches,
This aching heart shall cease to mourn
My loved, my long-lost breeches!

This poem is in the public domain.



Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894) was a Massachusetts doctor, professor, and writer. A graduate of Harvard, Oliver’s circle of friends included Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. His body of work included three novels, several nonfiction books, and an extensive number of magazine articles and professional papers, but it was poetry—which Oliver began writing as a child—for which he was best known.




Post New Comment:
What a sense if true humor. A master!
Posted 09/25/2018 10:50 PM
These lines are poignant, the loss of an invaluable piece of clothing: "They were my darlings and my pride, My boyhood's only riches, - "
Posted 09/25/2018 12:32 PM
Dorothy WildhagenD:
Lovely. Petticoats? Not in my closet now...but quite nostalgic...I love to remember.
Posted 09/25/2018 09:52 AM
I LOVE this poem--and this poet! Janice
Posted 09/25/2018 08:56 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
My teacher father used to recite this poem when I was a child. The language, meter and rhyme remind me of The Night Before Christmas.
Posted 09/25/2018 08:33 AM
So much depends on a pair of breeches!
Posted 09/25/2018 08:23 AM
Larry Schug:
Misery masked in humor. Good work, OWH. I hope all you folks in dire situations can find something to laugh about.
Posted 09/25/2018 07:19 AM

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