Old-Fashioned Letters

letters4 I’m sitting here today thinking about cards that I need to get for various people and occasions and it occurred to me that we never send real letters anymore. Honestly, when was the last time you got an actual letter in the mail? I don’t mean a thank-you card (which is almost as obsolete as letters these days) or a birthday card, but an actual letter?

I remember being younger and people had letters that they saved. Special letters might be tied together with ribbons to keep them for safe keeping, to be read again and again. It was nice to know that the person who was sending the letter was also the one who wrote it. There’s just something more personal about having their handwriting captured with ink on the paper and having it travel miles and miles to the recipient.letters2

In the 90’s, when computers got more popular and it was common to have them in all of our homes, e-mails replaced letters for many of us. It seemed O.K., although less personal. It was nice to hear from people no matter how we got the communication and I didn’t think too much about it. It was just the way it was.

Now, e-mails that contain news are less and less common. I get them from my mom, but not many other people. With Facebook, text messages, and long distance phonletters1e calls included in many of our phone plans, real newsy written communication seems to be somewhat of a “dying art”. It’s kind of sad to think that in the future there won’t be things like “old letters” for people to look back on.

Edgar Guest is one of my favorite poets and also wrote a poem years and years ago about Old-Fashioned Letters. I wonder what he would think if he were alive today?

Old-Fashioned Letters by Edgar A. Guest 

Old-fashioned letters! How good they were!
And nobody writes them now;
Never at all comes in the scrawl
On the written pages which told us all
The news of town and the folks we knew,
And what they had done or were going to do.
It seems we’ve forgotten how
To spend an hour with our pen in hand
To write in the language we understand.

Old-fashioned letters we used to get
And ponder each fond line o’er;
The glad words rolled like running gold,
As smoothly their tales of joy they told,
And our hearts beat fast with a keen delight
As we read the news they were pleased to write
And gathered the love they bore.
But few of the letters that come to-day
Are penned to us in the old-time way.

Old-fashioned letters that told us all
The tales of the far away;
Where they’d been and the folks they’d seen;
And better than any fine magazine
Was the writing too, for it bore the style
Of a simple heart and a sunny smile,
And was pure as the breath of May.
Some of them oft were damp with tears,
But those were the letters that lived for years.

Old-fashioned letters! How good they were!
And, oh, how we watched the mails;
But nobody writes of the quaint delights
Of the sunny days and the merry nights
Or tells us the things that we yearn to know–
That art passed out with the long ago,
And lost are the simple tales;
Yet we all would happier be, I think,
If we’d spend more time with our pen and ink.

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