by W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911)
Letters, letters, letters, letters,
Some that please and some that bore,
Some that threaten prison fetters
Such as bind insolvent debtors)—
Invitations by the score.
One from COGSON, WILES, and RAILER,
My attorneys, off the Strand,
One from COPPERBLOCK, my tailor—
My unreasonable tailor—
One in FLAGG’S disgusting hand.
One from EPHRAIM and MOSES,
Wanting coin without a doubt,
I should like to pull their noses—
Their uncompromising noses;
One from ALICE with the roses,
Ah, I know what that’s about!
Time was when I waited, waited,
For the missives that she wrote.
Humble postmen execrated—
Loudly, deeply execrated—
When I heard I wasn’t fated
To be gladdened with a note.
Time was when I’d not have bartered
Of her little pen a dip
For a peerage duly gartered—
For a peerage starred and gartered—
With a palace-office chartered—
Or a Secretaryship!
But the time for that is over,
And I wish we’d never met.
I’m afraid I’ve proved a rover—
I’m afraid a heartless rover—
Quarters in a place like Dover
Tend to make a man forget.
Now I can accord precedence
To my tailor, for I do
Want to know if he gives credence—
An unwarrantable credence—
To my proffered I O U!
Bills for carriages and horses,
Bills for wine and light cigar,
Matters that concern the Forces—
News that may affect the Forces—
News affecting my resources,
Now unquestioned take the pas.
And the tiny little paper,
With the words that seem to run
From her little fingers taper
(They are very small and taper),
By the tailor and the draper
Are in interest outdone!
And unopened it’s remaining!
I can read her gentle hope—
Her entreaties, uncomplaining
(She was always uncomplaining)—
Her devotion never waning—
Through the little envelope!