'For the Moore Centennial Celebration' by Oliver Wendell Holmes

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ENCHANTER of Erin, whose magic has bound us,
Thy wand for one moment we fondly would claim,
Entranced while it summons the phantoms around us
That blush into life at the sound of thy name.

The tell-tales of memory wake from their slumbers,--
I hear the old song with its tender refrain,
What passion lies hid in those honey-voiced numbers!
What perfume of youth in each exquisite strain!

The home ot my childhood comes back as a vision,--
Hark! Hark! A soft chord from its song~haunted room,--
'T is a morning of May, when the air is Elysian,--
The syringa in bud and the lilac in bloom,--

We are clustered around the "Clementi" piano,--
There were six of us then,-- there are two of us now,--
She is singing-- the girl with the silver soprano--
How "The Lord of the Valley" was false to his vow;

"Let Erin remember" the echoes are calling;
Through "The Vale of Avoca" the waters are rolled;
"The Exile" laments while the night~dews are falling;
"The Morning of Life" dawns again as of old.

But ah! those warm love-songs of fresh adolescence!
Around us such raptures celestial they flung
That it seemed as if Paradise breathed its quintessence
Through the seraph-toned lips of the maiden that sung!

Long hushed are the chords that my boyhood enchanted
As when the smooth wave by the angel was stirred,
Yet still with their music is memory haunted,
And oft in my dreams are their melodies heard.

I feel like the priest to his altar returning,--
The crowd that was kneeling no longer is there,
The flame has died down, but the brands are still burning,
And sandal and cinnamon sweeten the air.


The veil for her bridal young Summer is weaving
In her azure-domed hall with its tapestried floor,
And Spring the last tear-drop of May-dew is leaving
On the daisy of Burns and the shamrock of Moore.

How like, how unlike, as we view them together,
The song of the minstrels whose record we scan,--
One fresh as the breeze blowing over the heather,
One sweet as the breath from an odalisque's fan!

Ah, passion can glow mid a palace's splendor;
The cage does not alter the song of ths bird;
And the curtain of silk has known whispers as tender
As ever the blossoming hawthorn has heard.

No fear lest the step of the soft-slippered Graces
Should fright the young Loves from their warm little nest,
For the heart of a queen, under jewels and laces,
Beats time with the pulse in the peasant girl's breast!

Thrice welcome each gift of kind Nature's bestowing!
Her fountain heeds little the goblet we hold;
Alike, when its musical waters are flowing,
The shell from the seaside, the chalice of gold.

The twins of the lyre to her voices had listened;
Both laid their best gifts upon Liberty's shrine;
For Coila's loved minstrel the holly~wreath glistened;
For Erin's the rose and the myrtle entwine.

And while the fresh blossoms of summer are braided
For the sea-girdled, stream-silvered, lake-jewelled isle,
While her mantle of verdure is woven unfaded,
While Shannon and Liffey shall dimple and smile,

The land where the staff of Saint Patrick was planted,
Where the shamrock grows green from the cliffs to the shore,
The land of fair maidens and heroes undaunted,
Shall wreathe her bright harp with the garlands of Moore!

Editor 1 Interpretation

Celebrating Moore with Holmes

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Moore, it is only fitting that we revisit the tribute paid to him by Oliver Wendell Holmes. In his poem "For the Moore Centennial Celebration," Holmes not only praises the Irish poet but also sheds light on his own thoughts and feelings about poetry and the role it plays in our lives.

Context and Background

Thomas Moore (1779-1852) was an Irish poet, singer, songwriter and entertainer. He is best known for his Irish Melodies, a collection of songs and poems that became immensely popular in the early 19th century. Moore's works were celebrated for their lyricism, their emotional depth and their political and social commentary. He was a close friend of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his works were admired by many of the leading literary figures of his time.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) was an American physician, poet and essayist. He is best known for his witty and engaging essays, such as "The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table" and "The Professor at the Breakfast-Table," which were published in The Atlantic Monthly in the mid-19th century. Holmes was also a prolific poet, and his works were widely read and admired during his lifetime.


Holmes' poem is written in the form of a toast or tribute to Moore, and it is filled with praise for the Irish poet. Holmes begins by acknowledging the importance of poetry as a means of expressing our emotions and our deepest thoughts:

Oh, they love least who feign to feel,
    And what they once could see and hear,
    They now with bloodless eyes and ears
Gaze on, and neither see nor hear.
The oracles are dumb, and dead
The inspiration fled,
And barren as a belfry tower
Is silence, till the appointed hour
When, with the need, the power is bred!--
Then comes the poet's voice like Spring,
    Renewing Nature's blossoming;

Here, Holmes laments the fact that many people today have lost touch with their emotions and their senses, and are unable to appreciate the beauty and richness of life. He suggests that poetry has the power to awaken us from this state of apathy, and to help us see the world with fresh eyes. The poet, he argues, is like a spring that brings new life and renewal to the world.

Holmes then turns his attention to Moore, whom he describes as a master of melody and song:

The sweetness of his song beguiled 
The rigorous faith of England's pride; 
He brought our fathers back again, 
Their youth, their loves, their griefs, their aims, 
And, in a measure, made us feel
We too had hearts that could reveal 
The secrets of their joy and pain. 

Here, Holmes praises Moore's ability to capture the essence of human experience in his lyrics and melodies. He suggests that Moore's songs were not just beautiful but also emotionally powerful, and that they spoke to the hearts of his listeners in a profound way.

Holmes then goes on to discuss the political and social significance of Moore's work. He notes that Moore was not afraid to speak out against injustice and oppression, and that his songs were a rallying cry for those who sought freedom and equality:

The patriot's fire, the martyr's zeal, 
Were his who sang the chariot's wheel 
And smote the tyrant's brow; 
And his the gift of tongues, to charm 
The freeman's ear, the tyrant's harm, 
The Psalmist's rapture, and the ring 
Of arms that madly clash and clang 
In triumph or in overthrow. 

Here, Holmes suggests that Moore's poetry was not just a form of entertainment but also a means of political and social commentary. He argues that Moore's songs were a powerful force for change, inspiring people to fight for their rights and their freedom.

Finally, Holmes concludes his tribute by expressing his gratitude to Moore for the joy and inspiration that his poetry has brought to countless readers and listeners:

And thus we weave around his name 
The wreath of all his deathless fame, 
And feel that we are doubly blest 
To have enjoyed what he possessed, 
The lyric voice, whose accents clear 
Could call the hidden soul to hear, 
And touch it with the fire that stole 
From out the music of his soul. 

Here, Holmes suggests that Moore's poetry has the power to touch the soul and to inspire us to greatness. He suggests that Moore's legacy is one of joy and inspiration, and that his poetry will continue to enrich the lives of readers and listeners for generations to come.


In "For the Moore Centennial Celebration," Oliver Wendell Holmes pays tribute to one of the greatest poets of the 19th century, Thomas Moore. Holmes praises Moore's ability to capture the essence of human experience in his lyrics and melodies, and suggests that his poetry was not just a form of entertainment but also a means of political and social commentary. He suggests that Moore's legacy is one of joy and inspiration, and that his poetry will continue to enrich the lives of readers and listeners for generations to come.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry For the Moore Centennial Celebration: A Celebration of Life and Legacy

Oliver Wendell Holmes' Poetry For the Moore Centennial Celebration is a masterpiece of poetic tribute to the life and legacy of Thomas Moore. This classic poem, written in 1879, celebrates the centennial anniversary of the birth of the Irish poet, singer, and songwriter, Thomas Moore. In this 2000-word analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and literary devices used in this poem to understand its significance and relevance to the modern reader.

The poem is divided into three parts, each with its own distinct theme and tone. The first part is an introduction to the poem, where Holmes sets the stage for the celebration of Moore's life and work. The second part is a tribute to Moore's poetry, where Holmes highlights the beauty and power of Moore's words. The third and final part is a reflection on the legacy of Moore, where Holmes contemplates the impact of Moore's work on future generations.

In the introduction, Holmes sets the tone for the poem by describing the festive atmosphere of the centennial celebration. He uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of the scene, with "flags and banners streaming in the air" and "music ringing everywhere." This sets the stage for the celebration of Moore's life and work, which is the central theme of the poem.

In the second part of the poem, Holmes pays tribute to Moore's poetry by highlighting its beauty and power. He describes Moore's poetry as "a music that can melt the heart," and "a voice that speaks to every soul." Holmes uses literary devices such as alliteration, metaphor, and personification to convey the power of Moore's words. For example, he describes Moore's poetry as "a magic mirror that can show the heart its own deep mystery," which is a metaphor for the way in which Moore's poetry reflects the human experience.

Holmes also explores the themes of love and nature in Moore's poetry. He describes Moore's love poetry as "a song of love that never dies," and his nature poetry as "a hymn to nature's beauty and its power." Holmes uses these themes to show how Moore's poetry speaks to universal human experiences and emotions.

In the third and final part of the poem, Holmes reflects on the legacy of Moore's work. He contemplates the impact of Moore's poetry on future generations, and how it will continue to inspire and move people for years to come. He describes Moore's legacy as "a light that shines forever," and his poetry as "a treasure that will never fade."

Holmes also reflects on the importance of celebrating the life and work of great artists like Moore. He argues that by celebrating their legacy, we keep their memory alive and honor their contributions to the world. He writes, "Let us keep the memory bright of those who lived for truth and right, and left a record of their light for us to follow."

Overall, Poetry For the Moore Centennial Celebration is a beautiful tribute to the life and work of Thomas Moore. Holmes uses vivid imagery, powerful language, and literary devices to convey the beauty and power of Moore's poetry, as well as its universal themes and relevance to the modern reader. The poem is a celebration of life and legacy, and a reminder of the importance of honoring and remembering great artists like Moore.

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