Verse > Anthologies > Fuess and Stearns, eds. > The Little Book of Society Verse
Fuess and Stearns, comps.  The Little Book of Society Verse.  1922.
Old Letters
By Frederick Locker-Lampson
Have sorrows come? Has pleasure sped?
  Is earthly bliss an empty bubble?
Is some one dull, or something dead?
  Or may I, may n’t I share your trouble?
.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
Ay, so it is, and is it fair?        5
  Poor men (your elders and your betters!)
Who can’t look pretty in despair,
  Feel quite as sad about their letters.
Old letters! wipe away the tear
  For lines so pale, so vainly worded;        10
A Pilgrim finds his journal here
  Since first his youthful loins were girded.
Yes, here are wails from Clapham Grove;
  How could philosophy expect us
To live with Dr. Wise, and love        15
  Rice pudding and the Greek Delectus?
How strange to commune with the Dead!
  Dead joys, dead loves; and wishes thwarted;
Here’s proof of cruel friendships fled,
  And, sad enough, of friends departed.        20
Yes, here’s the offer that I wrote
  In ’33 to Lucy Diver;
And here’s John Wylie’s begging note,—
  He never paid me back a stiver.
Here’s news from Paternoster Row;        25
  How mad I was when first I learnt it!
They would not take my Book, and now
  I wish to goodness I had burnt it.
A ghastly bill! “I disapprove.”
  And yet She help’d me to defray it:—        30
What tokens of a mother’s love!
  O bitter thought,—I can’t repay it.
And here’s a score of notes at last,
  With “Love” and “Dove,” and “Sever Never”;
Though hope, though passion may be past,        35
  Their perfume seems—ah, sweet as ever.
A human heart should beat for two,
  Whate’er may say your single scorners;
And all the hearths I ever knew
  Had got a pair of chimney-corners.        40
See here a double violet—
  Two locks of hair—A deal of scandal;
I’ll burn what only brings regret—
  Kitty, go, fetch a lighted candle.

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