The Power of the Written Word

Correspondences have ended wars, saved lives, made hearts swoon, and connected people continents apart. The power of the written word is forceful – even in today’s digital world. This story from the Daily Mail UK is proof of that. A woman re-discovers “more than 100 letters sent from a lovestruck teenager to his sweetheart” thirty years after ending their relationship (Daily Mail UK). It’s a wonderful read about the beautiful, and lasting, effect that personal correspondence can create.




The Poetic Correspondent: Bayard Taylor


December 19th, 1878, Bayard Taylor passed away. He was an American poet, and the above image is his handwritten version of “Bedouin Song,” one of his most popular poems. (Brief Insights)

Complete Poem Text:

Bedouin Song,
by Bayard Taylor (1825-1878)

From the Desert I come to thee
On a stallion shod with fire;
And the winds are left behind
In the speed of my desire.
Under thy window I stand,
And the midnight hears my cry:
I love thee, I love but thee,
With a love that shall not die

Till the sun grows cold,
And the stars are old,
And the leaves of the Judgment Book Unfold!

Look from thy window and see
My passion and my pain;
I lie on the sands below,
And I faint in thy disdain.
Let the night-winds touch thy brow
With the heat of my burning sigh,
And melt thee to hear the vow
Of a love that shall not die

Till the sun grows cold,
And the stars are old,
And the leaves of the Judgment Book Unfold!

My steps are nightly driven,
By the fever in my breast,
To hear from thy lattice breathed
The word that shall give me rest.
Open the door of thy heart,
And open thy chamber door,
And my kisses shall teach thy lips
The love that shall fade no more

Till the sun grows cold,
And the stars are old,
And the leaves of the Judgment Book Unfold!

Courtesy of Brief Insights

The Cutest Correspondents: Dear Santa Letters

With the snow dusting New York City last night, the holiday spirit has officially set in at the Dempsey & Carroll office. We love traditions here, especially ones that involve hand-written letters! That’s why the Dear Santa letter-writing is one of our favorite holiday customs. Nothing is a better combination than hand-written notes and children’s candid humor. All of December, we will be posting letters to spread the laughter and cheer.

The letter above reads:

“Dear Santa

Hope that this letter finds you well. Please sign this picture of you for me. Also, I found a photo of Harold & Wallace (two of your elves) on holiday. They must be back now at this busy time of year so please if you can find them to sign their photo it will bring me great glee & warmth to the ends of my toenails. Merry Christmas!!!!”

The closing, “It will bring me great glee & warmth to the ends of my toenails,” is the most darling thing we have read in a while!

Do you have any good Dear Santa letters? send them our way!

Remembering Nelson Mandela: Notes from First Parliamentary Meeting


Photo courtesy of

The above image is the notes that Mandela took as the President of South Africa at his first Parliamentary meeting. He was the first black South African president and was sworn in as the President to an audience of 1 billion viewers globally (The Nelson Mandela Foundation). In an eloquent statement issued on December 6th, 2013, The First Lady, Michelle Obama, said “while very few of us will ever encounter the kind of discrimination and brutality that Nelson Mandela endured, all of us can learn lessons from his struggle. We can learn about the importance of standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost. We can learn about how, with self-discipline and courage, we can overcome the most unthinkable hardships. And we can learn about power of forgiveness to turn enemies into friends and help us move forward from a troubled past to a more hopeful future.” 

Remembering Nelson Mandela: Last Entry as a Prisoner



In January of 1990, Nelson Mandela wrote his last journal entries while being imprisoned. This journal entry above is the last archived note that exists. It was written in a place called Victor Verster Prison, a transfer facility between ‘imprisonment and freedom” ( While sitting in literal limbo, Mandela’s mind was occupied with the happenings of a gathering of ducks on the lawn. The passage seems like an unconscious stream of observations that he granted his body permission to write down. He is metaphoric with his description of the male ducks’ “loud colours,” and how they hold themselves with “dignity” rather than as “playboys”( Throughout the entry, he is sensitive to the notion that the birds are “uneasy,” and that their “consciousness is worrying them” ( This social analysis is fascinating when taken into account that Mandela had not been a part of a society in twenty-six years.

Remembering Nelson Mandela: A Letter to Winnie


Mr. Mandela wrote the letter above to his wife, Winnie, on February 4th, 1969 from prison. He had recently learned of some alarming health issues that Winnie had been experiencing. Although they have been separated physically for years, his profound, unwavering love for her shines through when he writes, “of the talents you possess, the one that attracts me most is your courage and determination. This makes you stand head & shoulders above the average & will, in the end, bring you the triumph of high achievement. Do consciously keep this constantly in mind…” ( 

Nelson Mandela, Remembered in Letters

The Former South African President, Nelson Mandela, passed away yesterday at the age of 95. The world is mourning a man who was a fearless global hero for equality and South Africa is mourning the loss of “a father.” Mandela was a beautiful correspondent, and as a tribute to him we will be posting letters that he wrote throughout his life. In the worlds of the Dalai-Lama, “his spirit must be continued” (

nelson mandela 1

This is a letter to his daughters after his wife, Winnie, was arrested and detained for five months with twenty-one others. He begins the letter with “My Darlings,” and explains the real potential that “perhaps never again will Mummy and Daddy join you at our House,” but that it remains the most important place in the “whole wide world” to them (

Jervis McEntee: The Detailed Correspondent


Journal entry from December 2nd, 1878

Jervis McEntee, an American painter in the mid-nineteenth century, left an enduring legacy with his incredibly detailed journal entries and letters. Through the archives of his handwritten pages, historians have been able to create a vibrant and accurate understanding of what the life of a New York City painter was like during the socially boisterous Gilded Era (Wikipedia). McEntee’s fame in art came from his “preference for the soberer phases of Nature, the gray days of November and its leafless trees” (Archives of American Art). The image below, named ‘A Misty Day, November‘ depicts the essence of soberness found in his works.


This journal entry, dated December 2nd, 1878, discusses the violent rain and wind that accompanies him throughout his daily tasks (Archives of American Art). He is in search of a perfect present for his friend, Bayard Taylor, in the streets of New York City. Not unlike the many people hunting in today’s cold to find the crowning item to wrap for their loved ones this holiday season.


Jessica Campbell Swoyer,