Tempora Mutantur

A poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

Letters, letters, letters, letters!
Some that please and some that bore,
Some that threaten prison fetters
(Metaphorically, 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.

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,
Much more interesting are!

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!

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