Letters of thanks, letters from banks,
Letters of joy from the girl and the boy,
Receipted bills and invitations
To inspect new stock or visit relations,
And applications for situations
And timid lovers’ declarations
And gossip, gossip from all the nations,
News circumstantial, news financial,
Letters with holiday snaps to enlarge in,
Letters with faces scrawled in the margin,
Letters from uncles, cousins, and aunts,
Letters to Scotland from the South of France,
Letters of condolence to Highlands and Lowlands
Notes from overseas to Hebrides
Written on paper of every hue,
The pink, the violet, the white and the blue,
The chatty, the catty, the boring, adoring,
The cold and official and the heart’s outpouring,
Clever, stupid, short and long,
The typed and the printed and the spelt all wrong.

From Night Mail (text) by English poet W.H. Auden, who was born 100 years ago today. Night Mail was used in a famous film (with music by no less than Benjamin Britten!) tracking the progress of a London-Scotland overnight mail train. It’s the perfect ‘communications’ poem, and therefore I’m happy to share the excerpt above in recognition of the Auden centenary.

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