Thomas Bailey Aldrich

The Letter

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EDWARD ROWLAND SILL, DIED FEBRUARY 27, 1887

I held his letter in my hand,
And even while I read
The lightning flashed across the land
The word that he was dead.

How strange it seemed! His living voice
Was speaking from the page
Those courteous phrases, tersely choice,
Light-hearted, witty, sage.

I wondered what it was that died!
The man himself was here,
His modesty, his scholar's pride,
His soul serene and clear.

These neither death nor time shall dim,
Still this sad thing must be--
Henceforth I may not speak to him,
Though he can speak to me!

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Thomas Bailey Aldrich