Holmes’s Radio Address

February 20, 2006

In this symposium my part is only to sit in silence.  To express one’s feelings as the end draws near is too intimate a task.

But I may mention one thought that comes to me as a listener-in.  The riders in a race do not stop short when they reach the goal.  There is a little finishing canter before coming to a standstill.  There is time to hear the kind voice of friends and to say to one’s self:  “The work is done.”

But just as one says that, the answer comes:  “The race is over, but the work is never done while the  power to work remains.” 

The canter that brings you to a standstill need not be only coming to rest.  It cannot be while you still live.  For to live is to function.  That is all there is in living.

And so I end with a line from a Latin poet who uttered the message more than fifteen hundred years ago:

“Death plucks my ears and says, Live–I am coming.”

– On the occasion of a national celebration of Holmes’s 90th birthday
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