The Telegraph Clerk

Sitting here by my desk all day,
Hearing the constant click
As the messages speed on their way,
And the call comes sharp and quick--
Oh, what a varied tale they tell
Of joy and hope and fear!
The funeral knell and the marriage bell
In their steady tick I hear.


'Mother is dying; come at once.'

And the tears will almost start,
For tender daughters and loving sons--
God pity each aching heart!
Ah! how the haunting memories press
Of the mother's unfailing tenderness,
That is now forever o'er.


'I am well; will come tonight.'

How bright some eyes will glow
All day long with a happy light
As they watch the moments go.

Have had no letters; is something wrong?'

Some heart is sad today,
Counting the hours that seem so long
For the sake of one away.


'Arthur Ross, by accident killed;
Tell his mother, am coming home.'

Alas for the home with such sorrow filled,
When the bitter tidings come!

'Alice is better; gaining fast.'

And hearts that have been bowed
Under their weight of fear, at last
Shall lose their weary load.

So over the wires the tidings speed,
Bitter and grave and gay;
Some hearts shall beat, and some shall bleed,
For the tale they have to say.
As I sit all day by my desk alone
I hear the steam go by,
And catch the wires' changeful tone
With a smile and then a sigh.

by Anonymous Americas

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