Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, DEAD LETTERS (T.L.H.), by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN



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DEAD LETTERS (T.L.H.), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: There lay the letters of a hundred friends
Last Line: Seemed friends that we had always known.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): Friendship; Poetry & Poets


THERE lay the letters of a hundred friends
Of one whose name and years -- what else? -- we knew;
Unordered, faded, past and gone,
Mere script that chance had let live on.

Now through this chaos of sad nothing-worth,
Of unknown moods and matters dead so long,
We'll look, we said, for any trace
Of those his friends whom years but grace.

And hurrying over pages thick as leaves
In Vallombrosa, now with surprised hush
We met with Mary Shelley's name,
Tumultuous for her dead Love's fame.

Nor without trembling could we lay our hand
To that remorseless parchment which recalled
Poor Harriet staring on the cold
Oblivious water, deathly bold.

How often, fine as this his silvered hair,
Appeared the charactery of Shelley's friend,
That friend for whom the Ariel gay
Went fleeting on a fatal day!

The face of Keats glowed out awhile, and Lamb
Seemed never far, the darling of our race;
And here the tired heroic soul
Of Landor lit a homely scroll;

And later names which England's genius bore,
Writ by the men, flashed out on our survey;
And Muse and State we chose in pride
From the great throng we cast aside.

We cast aside! poor relics, chill and dumb,
That told us nothing, seemed the chaff that time
With his great tempest might have hurled,
And no grain lost, from this wide world.

But scanning here more closely, at the last
We found our thoughts in these unknowns drawn down
To comprehend the hopes and fears,
The wrongs and harms that loosed these tears;

The half-starved fingers at their drudgeries,
The brain in fever and endeavouring still,
The unechoed songs in beauty's praise,
The affection urged in darkest days;

And more and more these nameless annals clutched
The hasty hand, the heart, till a hundred ghosts
Of men unlauded, past and gone,
Seemed friends that we had always known.





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