The newest issue of The Strand Mystery Magazine features a lost poem by noir master Raymond Chandler that was hidden in the archives of the Bodleian library in Oxford for decades.
This is the only poem that Chandler wrote as an adult, and it has a sentimental and mystic quality, in contrast to most of his works, which were dark and cynical. The mystery is why this was never released in his lifetime.
Chandler wrote this in 1955, after the passing of his wife, and this was a time when there were quite a few things he left unpublished. That included this poem, and a short story which was a searing indictment of the healthcare industry, which The Strand published years ago. 1955 was also the year he attempted to kill himself.
Andrew Gulli, the Managing Editor of The Strand, said in a statement, "Chandler has been cited as a formative influence on scores of crime writers from Laura Lippman, Janet Evanovich to Michael Connelly and Richard Price. After combing over thousands of pages of his manuscripts, I can safely say in a bittersweet way that is the final word from Raymond Chandler."
Here is a sampling of this newly-discovered Chandler poem:
There is a moment after death, yet hardly a moment,
When the bright clothes hang in the scented closet
And the lost dream fades and slowly fades,
When the silver bottles and the glass and the empty mirror,
And three long hairs in a brush and a folded kerchief,
And the fresh made bed and the fresh, plump pillows
On which no head will lie,
Are all that is left of the long, wild dream.
But there are always the letters.
I hold them in my hand, tied with green ribbon
Neatly and firmly by the soft, strong fingers of love.
The letters will not die.