In my latter High School days, as part of an oral communications course, I was required to memorize and deliver a poem before the class. I found one in the school library and met the requirement with decent marks. For some reason I cannot recall enough about this poem to find it again.

Known details:

  • The perspective is that of the Innkeeper
  • A first person account of an error made was told in the past tense
  • There is a repeated lamentation of "Had I'd only known" or "If I'd only known"
  • I found the poem originally in a text that was a compilation of multiple authors (Pretty sure)
  • Based on Google, there seem to be a lot of poems about the innkeeper. Was this in the United States? Do you know how approximately old the poem was? How long it is? Whether it rhymes or has a distinctive rhythm/meter? Is it something for a young child with simple language or an older child?
    – Stuart F
    Jul 7, 2022 at 15:01
  • That indeed has been my issue. The stand out thought I'd that is the excuse of ignorance. It could be delivered in some free minutes of time in class and should be of language a fairly standard 17 year old would be comfortable to deliver. I was never an academic overachiever.
    – EFH
    Jul 8, 2022 at 0:12

1 Answer 1


Here is a possibility.

The Inn That Missed Its Chance
By Amos Russel Wells

It reads in part:

Could I know
That they were so important? Just the two,
No servants, just a workman sort of man,
Leading a donkey, and his wife thereon
Drooping and pale,–I saw them not myself,
My servants must have driven them away;
But had I seen them,–how was I to know?
Were inns to welcome stragglers, up and down
In all our towns from Beersheba to Dan,
Till He should come? And how were men to know?

  • The fifth stanza seems to ring true to memory, but the details and names of the rest of it do not seem something i would select as a teen. I thank you for this and will let it sit awhile and see.
    – EFH
    Jul 8, 2022 at 0:10

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