Henry Clay Work

(1 October 1832 – 8 June 1884 / Middletown, Connecticut)

The Lost Letter - Poem by Henry Clay Work

In the postoffice window was one broken pane;
In the wainscot there was one loosen'd board;
And conveniently near was the broad oaken table,
Where the mail from the bag had been pour'd,
'Twas a morning in May, with a sweet odor'd breeze;
And it happen'd unnotic'd by all,
That a most precious missive, that love laden letter,
Flutter'd down thro' the gap in the wall.

Two lives wreck'd by a zephyr!
Two hearts crush'd by the fall,
When that most precious missive, that love laden letter,
Flutter'd down thro' the gap in the wall.

Both were faithful and true, 'Twas a gossip's remark,
that had clouded loving hearts with concern.
Then, alas! came a quarrel; and she, in her anger,
Bade him go, nevermore to return.
Oh, how soon she repented! how great was her grief,
And how humbly she penn'd her recall!
But that most precious missive, that love laden letter,
Flutter'd down thro' the gap in the wall.

It was just on the morrow the carpenter came,
Such defections in that wall to repair;
And he hammer'd and sang, and departed unmindful
Of the hearts he had thus burried there.
And in heaps on the table, all safe and secure,
There lay many a valueless scrawl,
Where that most precious missive, that love laden letter,
Flutter'd down thro' the gap in the wall.

"When she learns how she wrongs me, my darling will write!"
Mus'd the lover, as he watch'd for the mail;
But his letter came not, and, dishearten'd and hopeless,
For a land far away he set sail.
Oh! the long weary years of suspense and regret,
And of presage perplexing withal,
Since that most precious missive, that love laden letter,
Flutter'd down thro' the gap in the wall.

From the time-crumbled pile came the time-faded sheet,
With its ancient superscription and date;
And from exile the lover, the yet faithful lover,
Hasten'd home, to seal his fate.
'Twas his most cruel pang that he might not explain
To the sleeper beneath her black pall,
How that most precious missive, that love laden letter
Flutter'd down thro' the gap in the wall.


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Read poems about / on: anger, grief, fate, lost, home, love



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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