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Postman's Oath

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 04, 2010 at 02:29

In Reply to: Postman's Oath posted by David FG on April 03, 2010 at 15:52:

: : : The full and complete "Postman's Oath," is, I believe:

: : : "Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Dark Of Night Shall Stay These Couriers From The Swift Completion Of Their Appointed Rounds."

: : : Is that not correct?

: : I haven't often heard this called the Postman's Oath, although postmen are not loath to repeat it. Nor is it an official motto or creed of the U.S. Postal Service or its predecessors, although they have repeated it with relish. In reality, the couriers of the U.S. P.S. ARE sometimes stayed from the completion of their appointed rounds. It happened at our house during a recent blizzard, in fact.

: : The sentence comes from the Greek of Herodotus (ca. 500 BC) who was describing the Persian courier service of his day. As the Wikipedia tells us, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is an inscription on the James Farley Post Office in New York City."

: : The interesting Wikipedia article also shows a photograph of the façade of the Farley Post Office, an imposing Greek-revival building with a colonnade of 20 columns with Corinthian capitals. The words of Herodotus are inscribed in large letters going the length of the frieze above the colonnade. See:

: : wiki/United_States_Postal_Service_creed

: :
: : wiki/United_States_Postal_Service_creed

: I am always amused by the response to the claims of the 'oath' which goes, if memory serves me:

: "Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Dark Of Night Shall Stay These Couriers From The Swift Completion Of Their Appointed Rounds.

: So what is doing it, then?"


I saw a variety of answers to David's question--which I'm sure is sincere and well-meant. One answer was:

"Neither rain, nor sleet, nor gloom of night will keep the postman from his appointed rounds, but a bout of depression might make him hide a few thousand letters and parcels" (

Another pointed to budget cuts as the culprit. And a postal official blamed householders who don't make their sidewalks and porches safe for postmen, either because of excessive snow and ice or because of dangerous dogs. My sister was cut off from delivery of mail until the postman finally realized that her three dogs were tamer than most of the humans on his route.

Another wag pointed out that if snow, sleet, rain, gloom of night, and hot days don't deter the postman, then good weather must be to blame, since something surely is.

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