Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was a poet in the Fireside Poets circle in New England. Holmes was also a physician, professor, and scholar.

Photo: Oliver Wendell Holmes, circa 1894, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Print This Page


Holmes’s most famous works of poetry come from his “Breakfast-Table” series (The Professor at the Breakfast-Table, The Poet at the Breakfast-Table, and The Autocrat at the Breakfast-Table). He is also famous for his writings about medicine and contagious diseases, as well as for writing poems for special occasions–especially for events at Harvard, where he was a professor and Dean for several years. While he did achieve early literary success, Holmes never considered pursuing a full-time career as a writer, though he again turned to writing and translating later in life.

(His son was Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court who held great influence, especially after his famous ruling in Schenck v. United States limited the First Amendment protection of words that bring about “clear and present danger.”)

–Christie Finn

Related Information


Sheet Music

114 Songs

Composer(s): Charles Ives

Free via IMSLP

Hymn of Trust, Op. 13

Composer(s): Amy Beach

Buy via Sheet Music Plus

Support us and help us grow

Dear friends, Thank you for helping us build a comprehensive online archive of American song. Your gift is greatly appreciated.