A Commonplace Letter

It seemed so little, the thing you did -
Just to take the pen in your hand
And send the warm heart's greeting, hid
'Neath the common two-cent stamp of the land.
But over the mountains and over the plain,
And away o'er the billowy prairies went
The small, square letter, to soothe the pain
Of one who was fretted with discontent.

She was ill and tired; the long, hot day
Had worn itself to the merest shred;
The last of the light, as it ebbed away,
Fell on her patient needle and thread.
A shadow came flying across the space
Where the fading sunlight filtered through;
There was just the gleam of a sweet face,
And a voice said, "Here is a letter for you!"

The quick tears blurred in a sudden mist,
But she brushed them away, and then smiled,
And you should have seen how she kissed and kissed
The postmark's circlet, like a child.
Why, the name brought back the long ago
When she dressed in her best of afternoons,
When she found it a pleasure to sit and sew,
And her seams were hemmed to tripping tunes.

Poverty, change, and the drudgery
Of work that goes on without an end,
Had fettered the heart that was light and free,
Till she'd almost forgotten she had a friend.
The people at home so seldom write,
Her youth and its pleasures lie all behind;
she was thinking bitterly but last night
That out of sight is out of mind.

Now, here is your letter! The old hills break
Beyond these levels flat and green,
She thrills to the thrush and his flute notes wake
In the vesper hush of the woods serene.
She sits again in the little church,
And lifts her voice in the choir once more,
Or stoops for a four-leafed clover to search,
In the grass that ripples up to the door.

It was very little it meant for you -
An hour at best when the day was done;
But the words you sent rang sweet and true,
And they carried comfort and cheer to one
Who was needing to feel a clasping hand,
And to hear the voices she used to hear;
And the little letter, the breadth of the land,
Was the carrier dove that brought home near.


٭ Poem by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster.
# Picture is from the book "Home Life Made Beautiful", 1897.


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