O. W. Holmes On His Eightieth Birth-Day

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Climbing a path which leads back never more
We heard behind his footsteps and his cheer;
Now, face to face, we greet him standing here
Upon the lonely summit of Fourscore
Welcome to us, o'er whom the lengthened day
Is closing and the shadows colder grow,
His genial presence, like an afterglow,
Following the one just vanishing away.
Long be it ere the table shall be set
For the last breakfast of the Autocrat,
And love repeat with smiles and tears thereat
His own sweet songs that time shall not forget.
Waiting with us the call to come up higher,
Life is not less, the heavens are only higher!

© John Greenleaf Whittier