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[209] York was to celebrate the seventieth birthday of William Cullen Bryant; she was asked to write a poem for the occasion. This she did joyfully, composing and arranging the stanzas mostly in the train between Newport and Boston.

On the day of the celebration, she took an early train for New York: Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes was on the train. “I will sit by you, Mrs. Howe,” he said, “but I must not talk! I am going to read a poem at the Bryant celebration, and must save my voice.”

“By all means let us keep silent,” she replied. “I also have a poem to read at the Bryant Celebration.”

Describing this scene she says, “The dear Doctor, always my friend, overestimated his power of abstinence from the interchange of thought which was so congenial to him. He at once launched forth in his own brilliant vein, and we were within a few miles of our destination when we suddenly remembered that we had not taken time to eat our luncheon.”

George Bancroft met them at the station, carried her trunk himself ( “a small one!” ), and put her into his own carriage. The reception was in the Century Building. She entered on Mr. Bryant's arm, and sat between him and Mr. Bancroft on the platform. The Journal tells us:--

“After Mr. Emerson's remarks my poem was announced. I stepped to the middle of the platform, and read my poem. I was full of it, and read it well, I think, as every one heard me, and the large room was crammed. The last two verses — not the bestwere applauded.... This was, I suppose, the greatest ”

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