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On this day in 1809 the American physician, poet, professor and author Oliver Wendell Holmes was born.
A member of the ‘Fireside Poets’, his peers acclaimed him as one of the best writers of the day. A Harvard professor, he was also an important medical reformer and delivered many highly popular lectures on the topics of both science and literature.
Of his lecturing style it was said: “He enters, and is greeted by a mighty shout and stamp of applause.” The other professors requested that Holmes teach the last of the five morning lectures, because they knew he could hold the students’ attention even though they were tired.
Here is part of a poem by another great American academic and poet – T S Eliot, from The love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
Let us go then, you and I,When the evening is spread out against the skyLike a patient etherized upon a table;Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,The muttering retreatsOf restless nights in one-night cheap hotelsAnd sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:Streets that follow like a tedious argumentOf insidious intentTo lead you to an overwhelming question …Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”Let us go and make our visit.In the room the women come and goTalking of Michelangelo.
Today I ask that I will not seek moral superiority or seek to hurt others with words