55 Greatest Poems about Friendship

In life, all of us need our family and friends. Sometimes, if we’re shy to share something with our family members, there are always our friends to whom we can share our burdens.

These are fifty-five (55) greatest poems about friendship that you can relate to. If you are interested in knowing how our greatest poets describe the importance and roles of our friends in our lives, these poems are for you.

Keep reading!


A RUDDY drop of manly blood
The surging sea outweighs;
The world uncertain comes and goes,
The lover rooted stays.
I fancied he was fled,—
And, after many a year,
Glowed unexhausted kindliness,
Like daily sunrise there.
My careful heart was free again;
O friend, my bosom said,
Through thee alone the sky is arched,
Through thee the rose is red;
All things through thee take nobler form,
And look beyond the earth;
The mill-round of our fate appears
A sun-path in thy worth.
Me too thy nobleness has taught
To master my despair;
The fountains of my hidden life
Are through thy friendship fair.

Ralph Waldo Emerson


From “Night Thoughts,” Night II.

CELESTIAL Happiness, whene’er she stoops
To visit Earth, one shrine the goddess finds,
And one alone, to make her sweet amends
For absent Heaven—the bosom of a friend;
Where heart meets heart, reciprocally soft,
Each other’s pillow to repose divine.
Beware the counterfeit; in passion’s flame
Hearts melt, but melt like ice, soon harder froze.
True love strikes root in reason; passion’s foe:
Virtue alone entenders us for life:
I wrong her much—entenders us for ever:
Of Friendship’s fairest fruits, the fruit most fair
Is virtue kindling at a rival fire,
And, emulously, rapid in her race.
O the soft enmity! endearing strife!
This carries friendship to her noontide point,
And gives the rivet of eternity.
From Friendship, which outlives my former themes,
Glorious survivor of old Time and Death;
From Friendship, thus that flower of heavenly seed;
The wise extract Earth’s most Hyblean bliss,
Superior wisdom, crowned with smiling joy.

* * * *
What if (since daring on so nice a theme)
I show thee friendship delicate, as dear,
Of tender violations apt to die?
Reserve will wound it; and distrust, destroy
Deliberate in all things with thy friend,
But since friends grow not thick on every bough,
Nor every friend unrotten at the core;
First, on thy friend, deliberate with thyself,
Pause, ponder, sift; not eager in the choice,
Nor jealous of the chosen; fixing, fix;
Judge before friendship, then confide till death.

* * * *
Friendship ’s the wine of life; but friendship new
(Not such was his) is neither strong, nor pure.
O! for the bright complexion, cordial warmth,
And elevating spirit, of a friend,
For twenty summers ripening by my side,
All feculence of falsehood long thrown down;
All social virtues rising in his soul;
As crystal clear; and smiling as they rise!
Here nectar flows; it sparkles in our sight;
Rich to the taste, and genuine from the heart:
High-flavored bliss for gods! on Earth how rare!

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Bill and Joe

From “Poems of the Class of ’Twenty-nine”
COME, dear old comrade, you and I
Will steal an hour from days gone by,—
The shining days when life was new,
And all was bright as morning dew,—
The lusty days of long ago,
When you were Bill and I was Joe.

Your name may flaunt a titled trail,
Proud as a cockerel’s rainbow tail;
And mine as brief appendix wear
As Tam O’Shanter’s luckless mare;
To-day, old friend, remember still
That I am Joe and you are Bill.

You ’ve won the great world’s envied prize,
And grand you look in people’s eyes,
With H O N. and L L. D.
In big brave letters, fair to see,—
Your fist, old fellow! off they go!
How are you, Bill? How are you, Joe?

You ’ve worn the judge’s ermined robe;
You ’ve taught your name to half the globe;
You ’ve sung mankind a deathless strain;
You ’ve made the dead past live again:
The world may call you what it will,
But you and I are Joe and Bill.

The chaffing young folks stare and say,
“See those old buffers, bent and gray;
They talk like fellows in their teens!
Mad, poor old boys! That ’s what it means,”—
And shake their heads; they little know
The throbbing hearts of Bill and Joe!

How Bill forgets his hour of pride,
While Joe sits smiling at his side;
How Joe, in spite of time’s disguise,
Finds the old schoolmate in his eyes,—
Those calm, stern eyes that melt and fill
As Joe looks fondly up at Bill.

Ah, pensive scholar, what is fame?
A fitful tongue of leaping flame;
A giddy whirlwind’s fickle gust,
That lifts a pinch of mortal dust:
A few swift years, and who can show
Which dust was Bill, and which was Joe?

The weary idol takes his stand,
Holds out his bruised and aching hand,
While gaping thousands come and go,—
How vain it seems, this empty show!
Till all at once his pulses thrill,
’T is poor old Joe’s “God bless you, Bill!”

And shall we breathe in happier spheres
The names that pleased our mortal ears,—
In some sweet lull of harp and song,
For earth-born spirits none too long,—
Just whispering of the world below,
Where this was Bill, and that was Joe?

No matter; while our home is here
No sounding name is half so dear;
When fades at length our lingering day,
Who cares what pompous tombstones say?
Read on the hearts that love us still,
Hic jacet Joe. Hic jacet Bill.

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Early Friendship

THE HALF-SEEN memories of childish days,
When pains and pleasures lightly came and went;
The sympathies of boyhood rashly spent
In fearful wanderings through forbidden ways;
The vague, but manly wish to tread the maze
Of life to noble ends,—whereon intent,
Asking to know for what man here is sent,
The bravest heart must often pause, and gaze;
The firm resolve to seek the chosen end
Of manhood’s judgment, cautious and mature,—
Each of these viewless bonds binds friend to friend
With strength no selfish purpose can secure:
My happy lot is this, that all attend
That friendship which first came, and which shall last endure.

Aubrey Thomas de Vere

Young Friends

From “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Act III. Sc. 2.

O, IS all forgot?
All school-days’ friendship, childhood innocence?
We, Hermia, like two artificial gods,
Have with our needles created both one flower,
Both on one sampler, sitting on one cushion,
Both warbling of one song, both in one key,
As if our hands, our sides, voices, and minds,
Had been incorporate. So we grew together,
Like to a double cherry, seeming parted,
But yet an union in partition,
Two lovely berries moulded on one stem;
So, with two seeming bodies, but one heart;
Two of the first, like coats in heraldry
Due but to one and crownèd with one crest.
And will you rent our ancient love asunder,
To join with men in scorning your poor friend?
It is not friendly, ’t is not maidenly.

William Shakespeare


From “Hamlet,” Act III. Sc. 2.
HAMLET.—Horatio, thou art e’en as just a man
As e’er my conversation coped withal.
HORATIO.—O my dear lord—
HAMLET.— Nay, do not think I flatter:
For what advancement may I hope from thee
That no revènue hast but thy good spirits,
To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered?
No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp,
And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee,
Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear?
Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice,
And could of men distinguish, her election
Hath sealed thee for herself; for thou hast been
As one, in suffering all, that suffers nothing,—
A man that Fortune’s buffets and rewards
Hast ta’en with equal thanks; and blessed are those
Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled,
That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger
To sound what stop she please: Give me that man
That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart,
As I do thee.

William Shakespeare

The Memory of the Heart

IF stores of dry and learnèd lore we gain,
We keep them in the memory of the brain;
Names, things, and facts,—whate’er we knowledge call,—
There is the common ledger for them all;
And images on this cold surface traced
Make slight impression, and are soon effaced.
But we ’ve a page, more glowing and more bright,
On which our friendship and our love to write;
That these may never from the soul depart,
We trust them to the memory of the heart.
There is no dimming, no effacement there;
Each new pulsation keeps the record clear;
Warm, golden letters all the tablet fill,
Nor lose their lustre till the heart stands still.

Daniel Webster

A Wayfaring Song

From The Outlook

O WHO will walk a mile with me
Along life’s merry way?
A comrade blithe and full of glee,
Who dares to laugh out loud and free,
And let his frolic fancy play,
Like a happy child, through the flowers gay
That fill the field and fringe the way
Where he walks a mile with me.

And who will walk a mile with me
Along life’s weary way?
A friend whose heart has eyes to see
The stars shine out o’er the darkening lea,
And the quiet rest at the end o’ the day,—
A friend who knows, and dares to say,
The brave, sweet words that cheer the way
Where he walks a mile with me.

With such a comrade, such a friend,
I fain would walk till journeys end,
Through summer sunshine, winter rain,
And then?—Farewell, we shall meet again!

Henry van Dyke

Parted Friends

FRIEND after friend departs:
Who hath not lost a friend?
There is no union here of hearts
That finds not here an end;
Were this frail world our only rest,
Living or dying, none were blest.

Beyond the flight of time,
Beyond this vale of death,
There surely is some blessèd clime
Where life is not a breath,
Nor life’s affections transient fire,
Whose sparks fly upward to expire.

There is a world above,
Where parting is unknown;
A whole eternity of love,
Formed for the good alone;
And faith beholds the dying here
Translated to that happier sphere.

Thus star by star declines,
Till all are passed away,
As morning high and higher shines,
To pure and perfect day;
Nor sink those stars in empty night;
They hide themselves in heaven’s own light.

James Montgomery

“When to the sessions of sweet silent thought”

Sonnet XXX.

WHEN to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long-since-cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoanèd moan,
Which I new pay, as if not paid before;
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored, and sorrows end.

William Shakespeare


JAFFAR, the Barmecide, the good vizier,
The poor man’s hope, the friend without a peer,
Jaffar was dead, slain by a doom unjust;
And guilty Haroun, sullen with mistrust
Of what the good, and e’en the bad, might say,
Ordained that no man living from that day
Should dare to speak his name on pain of death.
All Araby and Persia held their breath;

All but the brave Mondeer: he, proud to show
How far for love a grateful soul could go,
And facing death for very scorn and grief
(For his great heart wanted a great relief),
Stood forth in Bagdad daily, in the square
Where once had stood a happy house, and there
Harangued the tremblers at the scymitar
On all they owed to the divine Jaffar.

“Bring me this man,” the caliph cried; the man
Was brought, was gazed upon. The mutes began
To bind his arms. “Welcome, brave cords,” cried he;
“From bonds far worse Jaffar delivered me;
From wants, from shames, from loveless household fears;
Made a man’s eyes friends with delicious tears;
Restored me, loved me, put me on a par
With his great self. How can I pay Jaffar?”

Haroun, who felt that on a soul like this
The mightiest vengeance could but fall amiss,
Now deigned to smile, as one great lord of fate
Might smile upon another half as great.
He said, “Let worth grow frenzied if it will;
The caliph’s judgment shall be master still.
Go, and since gifts so move thee, take this gem,
The richest in the Tartar’s diadem,
And hold the giver as thou deemest fit!”
“Gifts!” cried the friend; he took, and holding it
High toward the heavens, as though to meet his star,
Exclaimed, “This, too, I owe to thee, Jaffar!”

Leigh Hunt

The Vale of Avoca

THERE is not in this wide world a valley so sweet
As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet;
O, the last ray of feeling and life must depart
Ere the bloom of that valley shall fade from my heart!

Yet it was not that Nature had shed o’er the scene
Her purest of crystal and brightest of green;
’T was not the soft magic of streamlet or hill,—
O, no! it was something more exquisite still.

’T was that friends, the beloved of my bosom, were near,
Who made every dear scene of enchantment more dear,
And who felt how the best charms of nature improve,
When we see them reflected from looks that we love.

Sweet Vale of Avoca! how calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best;
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease, 15
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.

Thomas Moore

“We have been friends together”

WE have been friends together
In sunshine and in shade,
Since first beneath the chestnut-tree
In infancy we played.
But coldness dwells within thy heart,
A cloud is on thy brow;
We have been friends together,
Shall a light word part us now?

We have been gay together;
We have laughed at little jests;
For the fount of hope was gushing
Warm and joyous in our breasts,
But laughter now hath fled thy lip,
And sullen glooms thy brow;
We have been gay together,
Shall a light word part us now?

We have been sad together;
We have wept with bitter tears
O’er the grass-grown graves where slumbered
The hopes of early years.
The voices which were silent then
Would bid thee cheer thy brow;
We have been sad together,
Shall a light word part us now?

Caroline Elizabeth Sarah (Sheridan) Norton

“Too late I stayed”

TOO late I stayed,—forgive the crime!
Unheeded flew the hours:
How noiseless falls the foot of Time
That only treads on flowers!

And who, with clear account, remarks
The ebbings of this glass,
When all its sands are diamond sparks,
That dazzle as they pass?

O, who to sober measurement
Time’s happy swiftness brings,
When birds of paradise have lent
Their plumage to his wings?

William Robert Spencer

“We are brethren a’”

A HAPPY bit hame this auld world would be
If men, when they ’re here, could make shift to agree,
An’ ilk said to his neighbor, in cottage an’ ha’,
“Come, gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.”

I ken na why ane wi’ anither should fight,
When to ’gree would make ae body cosie an’ right,
When man meets wi’ man, ’t is the best way ava,
To say, “Gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.”

My coat is a coarse ane, an’ yours may be fine,
And I maun drink water, while you may drink wine;
But we baith ha’e a leal heart, unspotted to shaw:
Sae gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.

The knave ye would scorn, the unfaithfu’ deride;
Ye would stand like a rock, wi’ the truth on your side;
Sae would I, an’ naught else would I value a straw:
Then gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.

Ye would scorn to do fausely by woman or man;
I haud by the right aye, as weel as I can;
We are ane in our joys, our affections, an’ a’:
Come, gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.

Your mither has lo’ed you as mithers can lo’e;
An’ mine has done for me what mithers can do;
We are ane high an’ laigh, an’ we shouldna be twa:
Sae gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.

We love the same simmer day, sunny and fair;
Hame! oh, how we love it, an’ a’ that are there!
Frae the pure air of heaven the same life we draw:
Come, gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.

Frail shakin’ auld age will soon come o’er us baith,
An’ creeping alang at his back will be death;
Syne into the same mither-yird we will fa’:
Come, gi’e me your hand,—we are brethren a’.

Robert Nicoll

Wife, Children, and Friends

WHEN the black-lettered list to the gods was presented
(The list of what Fate for each mortal intends),
At the long string of ills a kind goddess relented,
And slipped in three blessings,—wife, children, and friends.

In vain surly Pluto maintained he was cheated,
For justice divine could not compass its ends;
The scheme of man’s penance he swore was defeated,
For earth becomes heaven with—wife, children, and friends.

If the stock of our bliss is in stranger hands vested,
The fund, ill secured, oft in bankruptcy ends;
But the heart issues bills which are never protested,
When drawn on the firm of—wife, children, and friends.

Though valor still glows in his life’s dying embers,
The death-wounded tar, who his colors defends,
Drops a tear of regret as he dying remembers
How blessed was his home with—wife, children, and friends.

The soldier, whose deeds live immortal in story,
Whom duty to far distant latitudes sends,
With transport would barter whole ages of glory
For one happy day with—wife, children, and friends.

Though spice-breathing gales on his caravan hover,
Though for him all Arabia’s fragrance ascends,
The merchant still thinks of the woodbines that cover
The bower where he sat with—wife, children, and friends.

The dayspring of youth, still unclouded by sorrow,
Alone on itself for enjoyment depends;
But drear is the twilight of age, if it borrow
No warmth from the smile of—wife, children, and friends.

Let the breath of renown ever freshen and nourish
The laurel which o’er the dead favorite bends;
O’er me wave the willow, and long may it flourish,
Bedewed with the tears of—wife, children, and friends.

Let us drink, for my song, growing graver and graver,
To subjects too solemn insensibly tends;
Let us drink, pledge me high, love and virtue shall flavor
The glass which I fill to—wife, children, and friends.

William Robert Spencer


GOD’S love and peace be with thee, where
Soe’er this soft autumnal air
Lifts the dark tresses of thy hair!

Whether through city casements comes
Its kiss to thee, in crowded rooms,
Or, out among the woodland blooms,

It freshens o’er thy thoughtful face,
Imparting, in its glad embrace,
Beauty to beauty, grace to grace!

Fair Nature’s book together read,
The old wood-paths that knew our tread,
The maple shadows overhead,—

The hills we climbed, the river seen
By gleams along its deep ravine,—
All keep thy memory fresh and green.

Where’er I look, where’er I stray,
Thy thought goes with me on my way,
And hence the prayer I breathe to-day:

O’er lapse of time and change of scene,
The weary waste which lies between
Thyself and me, my heart I lean.

Thou lack’st not Friendship’s spellword, nor
The half-unconscious power to draw
All hearts to thine by Love’s sweet law.

With these good gifts of God is cast
Thy lot, and many a charm thou hast
To hold the blessèd angels fast.

If, then, a fervent wish for thee
The gracious heavens will heed from me,
What should, dear heart, its burden be?

The sighing of a shaken reed,—
What can I more than meekly plead
The greatness of our common need?

God’s love,—unchanging, pure, and true,—
The Paraclete white-shining through
His peace,—the fall of Hermon’s dew!

With such a prayer, on this sweet day,
As thou mayst hear and I may say,
I greet thee, dearest, far away!

John Greenleaf Whittier

“When in disgrace”

Sonnet XXIX.

WHEN in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art, and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate.
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings,
That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

William Shakespeare

“Jenny kissed me”

JENNY 1 kissed me when we met,
Jumping from the chair she sat in.
Time, you thief! who love to get
Sweets into your list, put that in.
Say I ’m weary, say I ’m sad; 5
Say that health and wealth have missed me;
Say I ’m growing old, but add—
Jenny kissed me!

Note 1. “Jenny” was Mrs. Jane Welsh Carlyle.
Leigh Hunt (1784–1859)

“Not marble, not the gilded monuments”

Sonnet LV.
NOT marble, not the gilded monuments
Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents,
Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
’Gainst death and all oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth: your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity,
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

The Dead Friend

From “In Memoriam”

THE PATH by which we twain did go,
Which led by tracts that pleased us well,
Through four sweet years arose and fell,
From flower to flower, from snow to snow.

* * * *
But where the path we walked began
To slant the fifth autumnal slope,
As we descended, following Hope,
There sat the Shadow feared of man;

* * * *
Who broke our fair companionship,
And spread his mantle dark and cold,
And wrapped thee formless in the fold,
And dulled the murmur on thy lip.


* * * *
When each by turns was guide to each,
And Fancy light from Fancy caught,
And Thought leapt out to wed with Thought
Ere Thought could wed itself with Speech;

And all we met was fair and good,
And all was good that Time could bring,
And all the secret of the Spring
Moved in the chambers of the blood;


I know that this was Life,—the track
Whereon with equal feet we fared;
And then, as now, the day prepared
The daily burden for the back.

But this it was that made me move
As light as carrier-birds in air;
I loved the weight I had to bear
Because it needed help of Love:

Nor could I weary, heart or limb,
When mighty Love would cleave in twain
The lading of a single pain,
And part it, giving half to him.


* * * *
But I remained, whose hopes were dim,
Whose life, whose thoughts were little worth,
To wander on a darkened earth,
Where are all things round me breathed of him.

O friendship, equal-poised control,
O heart, with kindliest motion warm,
O sacred essence, other form,
O solemn ghost, O crownèd soul!

Yet none could better know than I,
How much of act at human hands
The sense of human will demands,
By which we dare to live or die.

Whatever way my days decline,
I felt and feel, though left alone,
His being working in mine own,
The footsteps of his life in mine.

* * * *
My pulses therefore beat again
For other friends that once I met;
Nor can it suit me to forget
The mighty hopes that make us men.

I woo your love: I count it crime
To mourn for any overmuch;
I, the divided half of such
A friendship as had mastered Time;

Which masters Time, indeed, and is
Eternal, separate from fears:
The all-assuming months and years
Can take no part away from this.

* * * *
O days and hours, your work is this,
To hold me from my proper place,
A little while from his embrace,
For fuller gain of after bliss:

That out of distance might ensue
Desire of nearness doubly sweet;
And unto meeting when we meet,
Delight a hundred-fold accrue.

* * * *

* * * *
The hills are shadows, and they flow
From form to form, and nothing stands;
They melt like mist, the solid lands,
Like clouds they shape themselves and go.

But in my spirit will I dwell,
And dream my dream, and hold it true;
For tho’ my lips may breathe adieu,
I cannot think the thing farewell.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892)

Elegy on Captain Matthew Henderson

HE ’S gane, he ’s gane! he ’s frae us torn,
The ae best fellow e’er was born!
Thee, Matthew, Nature’s sel’ shall mourn
By wood and wild,
Where, haply, pity strays forlorn,
Frae man exiled.

Ye hills, near neebors o’ the starns,
That proudly cock your cresting cairns!
Ye cliffs, the haunts of sailing yearns,
Where echo slumbers!
Come join, ye Nature’s sturdiest bairns,
My wailing numbers!

Mourn, ilka grove the cushat kens!
Ye hazelly shaws and briery dens!
Ye burnies, wimplin’ down your glens,
Wi’ toddlin’ din,
Or foaming strang, wi’ hasty stens,
Frae lin to lin!

Mourn, little harebells o’er the lea,
Ye stately foxgloves fair to see;
Ye woodbines hanging bonnilie
In scented bowers;
Ye roses on your thorny tree,
The first o’ flowers.

At dawn, when every grassy blade
Droops with a diamond at his head,
At even, when beans their fragrance shed,
I’ the rustling gale,
Ye maukins whiddin through the glade,
Come join my wail.

Mourn, ye wee songsters o’ the wood;
Ye grouse that crap the heather bud;
Ye curlews calling through a clud;
Ye whistling plover;
And mourn, ye whirring paitrick brood;
He ’s gane forever!

Mourn, sooty coots, and speckled teals,
Ye fisher herons, watching eels;
Ye duck and drake, wi’ airy wheels
Circling the lake;
Ye bitterns, till the quagmire reels,
Rair for his sake.

Mourn, clamoring craiks at close o’ day,
’Mang fields o’ flowering clover gay;
And when ye wing your annual way
Frae our cauld shore,
Tell thae far warlds wha lies in clay,
Wham we deplore.

Ye houlets, frae your ivy bower,
In some auld tree, or eldritch tower,
What time the moon, wi’ silent glower,
Sets up her horn,
Wail thro’ the dreary midnight hour
Till waukrife morn.

O rivers, forests, hills and plains!
Oft have ye heard my canty strains:
But now, what else for me remains
But tales of wo?
And frae my een the drapping rains
Maun ever flow.

Mourn, Spring, thou darling of the year!
Ilk cowslip cup shall keep a tear:
Thou, Simmer, while each corny spear
Shoots up its head,
Thy gay, green flowery tresses shear,
For him that ’s dead!

Thou, Autumn, wi’ thy yellow hair,
In grief thy sallow mantle tear!
Thou, Winter, hurling through the air
The roaring blast,
Wide o’er the naked world declare
The worth we ’ve lost.

Mourn him, thou sun, great source of light!
Mourn, empress of the silent night!
And you, ye twinkling starnies bright,
My Matthew mourn!
For thro’ your orbs he ’s ta’en his flight,
Ne’er to return.

O Henderson, the man! the brother!
And art thou gone, and gone forever!
And hast thou crost that unknown river,
Life’s dreary bound!
Like thee where shall I find another,
The world around!

Go to your sculptured tombs, ye great,
In a’ the tinsel trash o’ state!
But by thy honest turf I ’ll wait,
Thou man of worth!
And weep the ae best fellow’s fate
E’er lay in earth.

Robert Burns

“And doth not a meeting like this”

AND doth not a meeting like this make amends
For all the long years I ’ve been wand’ring away—
To see thus around me my youth’s early friends,
As smiling and kind as in that happy day?
Though haply o’er some of your brows, as o’er mine,
The snow-fall of Time may be stealing—what then?
Like Alps in the sunset, thus lighted by wine,
We ’ll wear the gay tinge of Youth’s roses again.

What softened remembrances come o’er the heart,
In gazing on those we ’ve been lost to so long!
The sorrows, the joys, of which once they were part,
Still round them, like visions of yesterday, throng;
As letters some hand hath invisibly traced,
When held to the flame will steal out on the sight,
So many a feeling, that long seemed effaced,
The warmth of a moment like this brings to light.

And thus, as in memory’s bark we shall glide,
To visit the scenes of our boyhood anew,
Though oft we may see, looking down on the tide,
The wreck of full many a hope shining through;
Yet still, as in fancy we point to the flowers
That once made a garden of all the gay shore,
Deceived for a moment, we ’ll think them still ours,
And breathe the fresh air of life’s morning once more.

So brief our existence, a glimpse, at the most,
Is all we can have of the few we hold dear;
And oft even joy is unheeded and lost
For want of some heart that could echo it, near.
Ah, well may we hope, when this short life is gone,
To meet in some world of more permanent bliss;
For a smile, or a grasp of the hand, hast’ning on,
Is all we enjoy of each other in this.

But, come, the more rare such delights to the heart,
The more we should welcome, and bless them the more;
They ’re ours, when we meet—they are lost when we part—
Like birds that bring Summer, and fly when ’t is o’er.
Thus circling the cup, hand in hand, ere we drink,
Let Sympathy pledge us, through pleasure, through pain,
That, fast as a feeling but touches one link,
Her magic shall send it direct through the chain.

Thomas Moore

We Love but Few

OH, yes, we mean all kind words that we say
To old friends and to new;
Yet doth this truth grow clearer day by day:
We love but few.

We love! we love! What easy words to say,
And sweet to hear,
When sunrise splendor brightens all the way,
And, far and near,

Are breath of flowers and carolling of birds,
And bells that chime;
Our hearts are light: we do not weigh our words
At morning time!

But when the matin music all is hushed,
And life’s great load
Doth weigh us down, and thick with dust
Doth grow the road,

Then do we say less often that we love.
The words have grown!
With pleading eyes we look to Christ above,
And clasp our own.

Their lives are bound to ours by mighty bands
No mortal strait,
Nor Death himself, with his prevailing hands,
Can separate.

The world is wide, and many friends are dear,
And friendships true;
Yet do these words read plainer, year by year:
We love but few.


The Garret

WITH pensive eyes the little room I view,
Where, in my youth, I weathered it so long;
With a wild mistress, a stanch friend or two,
And a light heart still breaking into song:
Making a mock of life, and all its cares,
Rich in the glory of my rising sun,
Lightly I vaulted up four pair of stairs,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

Yes; ’t is a garret—let him know ’t who will—
There is my bed—full hard it was and small;
My table there—and I decipher still
Half a lame couplet charcoaled on the wall.
Ye joys, that Time hath swept with him away,
Come to mine eyes, ye dreams of love and fun;
For you I pawned my watch how many a day,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

* * * *
One jolly evening, when my friends and I
Made happy music with our songs and cheers,
A shout of triumph mounted up thus high,
And distant cannon opened on our ears:
We rise—we join in the triumphant strain—
Napoleon conquers—Austerlitz is won—
Tyrants shall never tread us down again,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

Let us begone—the place is sad and strange—
How far, far off, these happy times appear;
All that I have to live I ’d gladly change
For one such month as I have wasted here—
To draw long dreams of beauty, love, and power,
From founts of hope that never will outrun,
And drink all life’s quintessence in an hour,
Give me the days when I was twenty-one!

William Makepeace Thackeray

A Temple to Friendship

“A TEMPLE to Friendship,” cried Laura, enchanted,
“I ’ll build in this garden; the thought is divine.”
So the temple was built, and she now only wanted
An image of Friendship, to place on the shrine.

So she flew to the sculptor, who sat down before her
An image, the fairest his art could invent;
But so cold, and so dull, that the youthful adorer
Saw plainly this was not the Friendship she meant.

“O, never,” said she, “could I think of enshrining
An image whose looks are so joyless and dim;
But you little god upon roses reclining,
We ’ll make, if you please, sir, a Friendship of him.”

So the bargain was struck; with the little god laden,
She joyfully flew to her home in the grove.
“Farewell,” said the sculptor, “you ’re not the first maiden
Who came but for Friendship, and took away Love!”

Thomas Moore


I HAD sworn to be a bachelor, she had sworn to be a maid,
For we quite agreed in doubting whether matrimony paid;
Besides, we had our higher loves,—fair science ruled my heart,
And she said her young affections were all wound up in art.

So we laughed at those wise men who say that friendship cannot live
’Twixt man and woman, unless each has something more to give:
We would be friends, and friends as true as e’er were man and man;
I ’d be a second David, and she Miss Jonathan.

We scorned all sentimental trash,—vows, kisses, tears, and sighs;
High friendship, such as ours, might well such childish arts despise;
We liked each other, that was all, quite all there was to say,
So we just shook hands upon it, in a business sort of way.

We shared our secrets and our joys, together hoped and feared,
With common purpose sought the goal that young Ambition reared;
We dreamed together of the days, the dream-bright days to come,
We were strictly confidential, and we called each other “chum.”

And many a day we wandered together o’er the hills,
I seeking bugs and butterflies, and she, the ruined mills
And rustic bridges, and the like, that picture-makers prize
To run in with their waterfalls, and groves, and summer skies.

And many a quiet evening, in hours of silent ease,
We floated down the river, or strolled beneath the trees,
And talked, in long gradation from the poets to the weather,
While the western skies and my cigar burned slowly out together.

Yet through it all no whispered word, no tell-tale glance or sigh,
Told aught of warmer sentiment than friendly sympathy.
We talked of love as coolly as we talked of nebulæ,
And thought no more of being one than we did of being three.

* * * *
“Well, good-bye, chum!” I took her hand, for the time had come to go.
My going meant our parting, when to meet, we did not know.
I had lingered long, and said farewell with a very heavy heart;
For although we were but friends, ’t is hard for honest friends to part.

“Good-bye, old fellow! don’t forget your friends beyond the sea,
And some day, when you ’ve lots of time, drop a line or two to me.”
The words came lightly, gayly, but a great sob, just behind,
Welled upward with a story of quite a different kind.

And then she raised her eyes to mine,—great liquid eyes of blue,
Filled to the brim, and running o’er, like violet cups of dew;
One long, long glance, and then I did, what I never did before—
Perhaps the tears meant friendship, but I ’m sure the kiss meant more.

William B. Terrett

Friend and Lover

WHEN Psyche’s friend becomes her lover,
How sweetly these conditions blend!
But, oh, what anguish to discover
Her lover has become—her friend!

Mary Ainge De Vere (Madeline Bridges)

The Boys

From “Poems of the Class of ’Twenty-nine”

HAS there any old fellow got mixed with the boys?
If there has, take him out, without making a noise.
Hang the Almanac’s cheat and the Catalogue’s spite!
Old Time is a liar! We ’re twenty to-night!

We ’re twenty! We ’re twenty! Who says we are more?
He ’s tipsy,—young jackanapes!—show him the door!
“Gray temples at twenty?”—Yes! white, if we please;
Where the snow-flakes fall thickest there ’s nothing can freeze!

Was it snowing I spoke of? Excuse the mistake!
Look close,—you will see not a sign of a flake!
We want some new garlands for those we have shed,—
And these are white roses in place of the red.

We ’ve a trick, we young fellows, you may have been told,
Of talking (in public) as if we were old:
That boy we call “Doctor,” and this we call “Judge;”—
It ’s a neat little fiction,—of course it ’s all fudge.

That fellow ’s the “Speaker,”—the one on the right;
“Mr. Mayor,” my young one, how are you to-night?
That ’s our “Member of Congress,” we say when we chaff;
There ’s the “Reverend” What ’s his name?—don’t make me laugh!

That boy with the grave mathematical look
Made believe he had written a wonderful book,
And the ROYAL SOCIETY thought it was true!
So they chose him right in,—a good joke it was too!

There ’s a boy, we pretend, with a three-decker brain,
That could harness a team with a logical chain;
When he spoke for our manhood in syllabled fire,
We called him “The Justice,” but now he ’s “The Squire.”

And there ’s a nice youngster of excellent pith,—
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith,
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,—
Just read on his medal, “My country,” “of thee!”

You hear that boy laughing?—You think he ’s all fun;
But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done;
The children laugh loud as they troop to his call,
And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!

Yes, we ’re boys,—always playing with tongue or with pen;
And I sometimes have asked, Shall we ever be men?
Shall we always be youthful, and laughing, and gay,
Till the last dear companion drop smiling away?

Then here ’s to our boyhood, its gold and its gray!
The stars of its winter, the dews of its May!
And when we have done with our life-lasting toys,
Dear Father, take care of thy children, THE BOYS.

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)

The Cane-Bottomed Chair

IN tattered old slippers that toast at the bars,
And a ragged old jacket perfumed with cigars,
Away from the world and its toils and its cares,
I ’ve a snug little kingdom up four pair of stairs.

To mount to this realm is a toil, to be sure,
But the fire there is bright and the air rather pure;
And the view I behold on a sunshiny day
Is grand through the chimney-pots over the way.

This snug little chamber is crammed in all nooks
With worthless old knick-knacks and silly old books,
And foolish old odds and foolish old ends,
Cracked bargains from brokers, cheap keepsakes from friends.

Old armor, prints, pictures, pipes, china (all cracked),
Old rickety tables, and chairs broken-backed;
A twopenny treasury, wondrous to see;
What matter? ’t is pleasant to you, friend, and me.

No better divan need the Sultan require,
Than the creaking old sofa that basks by the fire;
And ’t is wonderful, surely, what music you get
From the rickety, ramshackle, wheezy spinet.

That praying-rug came from a Turcoman’s camp;
By Tiber once twinkled that brazen old lamp;
A Mameluke fierce yonder dagger has drawn:
’T is a murderous knife to toast muffins upon.

Long, long, through the hours, and the night, and the chimes,
Here we talk of old books, and old friends, and old times;
As we sit in a fog made of rich Latakie
This chamber is pleasant to you, friend, and me.

But of all the cheap treasures that garnish my nest,
There ’s one that I love and I cherish the best:
For the finest of couches that ’s padded with hair
I never would change thee, my cane-bottomed chair.

’T is a bandy-legged, high-shouldered, worm-eaten seat,
With a breaking old back, and twisted old feet;
But since the fair morning when Fanny sat there,
I bless thee and love thee, old cane-bottomed chair.

If chairs have but feeling, in holding such charms,
A thrill must have passed through your withered old arms;
I looked, and I longed, and I wished in despair;
I wished myself turned to a cane-bottomed chair.

It was but a moment she sat in this place,
She ’d a scarf on her neck, and a smile on her face!
A smile on her face, and a rose in her hair,
And she sat there, and bloomed in my cane-bottomed chair.

And so I have valued my chair ever since,
Like the shrine of a saint, or the throne of a prince;
Saint Fanny, my patroness sweet I declare,
The queen of my heart and my cane-bottomed chair.

When the candles burn low, and the company ’s gone,
In the silence of night as I sit here alone—
I sit here alone, but we yet are a pair—
My Fanny I see in my cane-bottomed chair.

She comes from the past and revisits my room;
She looks as she then did, all beauty and bloom;
So smiling and tender, so fresh and so fair,
And yonder she sits in my cane-bottomed chair.

William Makepeace Thackeray

The Welcome

From the Persian by Edward Fitzgerald

ONE night Shah Mahmúd, who had been of late
Somewhat distempered with Affairs of State,
Strolled through the Streets disguised, as wont to do—
And coming to the Baths, there on the Flue
Saw the poor Fellow who the Furnace fed
Sitting beside his Water-jug and Bread.
Mahmúd stept in—sat down—unasked took up
And tasted of the untasted Loaf and Cup,
Saying within himself, “Grudge but a bit,
And, by the Lord, your Head shall pay for it!”
So, having rested, warmed and satisfied
Himself without a Word on either side,
At last the wayward Sultan rose to go.
And then at last his Host broke silence—“So?—
Art satisfied? Well, Brother, and Day
Or Night, remember, when you come this Way
And want a bit of Provender—why, you
Are welcome, and if not—why, welcome too.”—
The Sultan was so tickled with the whim
Of this quaint Entertainment and of him
Who offered it, that many a Night again
Stoker and Shah forgathered in that vein—
Till, the poor Fellow having stood the Test
Of true Good-fellowship, Mahmúd confessed
One Night the Sultan that had been his Guest:
And in requital of the scanty Dole
The poor Man offered with so large a soul,
Bid him ask any Largess that he would—
A Throne—if he would have it, so he should.
The Poor Man kissed the Dust, and “All,” said he,
“I ask is what and where I am to be;
If but the Shah from time to time will come
As now, and see me in the lowly Home
His presence makes a Palace, and my own
Poor Flue more royal than another’s Throne.”

Faríd-Uddín Attar

Sparkling and Bright

SPARKLING and bright in liquid light,
Does the wine our goblets gleam in,
With hue as red as the rosy bed
Which a bee would choose to dream in.
Then fill to-night, with hearts as light,
To loves as gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swim on the beaker’s brim,
And break on the lips while meeting.

Oh! if Mirth might arrest the flight
Of Time through Life’s dominions,
We here a while would now beguile
The graybeard of his pinions,
To drink to-night, with hearts as light,
To loves as gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swim on the beaker’s brim,
And break on the lips while meeting.

But since Delight can’t tempt the wight,
Nor fond Regret delay him,
Nor Love himself can hold the elf,
Nor sober Friendship stay him,
We ’ll drink to-night, with hearts as light,
To loves as gay and fleeting
As bubbles that swim on the beaker’s brim,
And break on the lips while meeting.

Charles Fenno Hoffman

“Wreathe the bowl”

WREATHE the bowl
With flowers of soul,
The brightest wit can find us;
We ’ll take a flight
Towards heaven to-night,
And leave dull earth behind us!
Should Love amid
The wreaths be hid
That Joy, the enchanter, brings us,
No danger fear 10
While wine is near—
We ’ll drown him if he stings us.
Then wreathe the bowl
With flowers of soul,
The brightest wit can find us;
We ’ll take a flight
Towards heaven to-night,
And leave dull earth behind us!

’T was nectar fed
Of old, ’t is said,
Their Junos, Joves, Apollos;
And man may brew
His nectar too;
The rich receipt ’s as follows:—
Take wine like this;
Let looks of bliss
Around it well be blended;
Then bring wit’s beam
To warm the stream,
And there ’s your nectar, splendid!
So wreathe the bowl
With flowers of soul,
The brightest wit can find us;
We ’ll take a flight
Towards heaven to-night,
And leave dull earth behind us!

Say, why did Time
His glass sublime
Fill up with sands unsightly,
When wine he knew
Runs brisker through,
And sparkles far more brightly?
Oh, lend it us,
And, smiling thus,
The glass in two we ’d sever,
Make pleasure glide
In double tide,
And fill both ends for ever!
Then wreathe the bowl
With flowers of soul,
The brightest wit can find us;
We ’ll take a flight
Towards heaven to-night,
And leave dull earth behind us!

Thomas Moore

A Winter Wish

OLD wine to drink!—
Ay, give the slippery juice
That drippeth from the grape thrown loose
Within the tun;
Plucked from beneath the cliff
Of sunny-sided Teneriffe,
And ripened ’neath the blink
Of India’s sun!
Peat whiskey hot,
Tempered with well-boiled water!
These make the long night shorter,—
Forgetting not
Good stout old English porter.

Old wood to burn!—
Ay, bring the hillside beech
From where the owlets meet and screech,
And ravens croak;
The crackling pine, and cedar sweet;
Bring too a clump of fragrant peat,
Dug ’neath the fern; 20
The knotted oak,
A fagot too, perhaps,
Whose bright flame, dancing, winking,
Shall light us at our drinking;
While the oozing sap
Shall make sweet music to our thinking.

Old books to read!—
Ay, bring those nodes of wit,
The brazen-clasped, the vellum writ,
Time-honored tomes! 30
The same my sire scanned before,
The same my grandsire thumbèd o’er,
The same his sire from college bore,
The well-earned meed
Of Oxford’s domes;
Old Homer blind,
Old Horace, rake Anacreon, by
Old Tully, Plautus, Terence lie;
Mort Arthur’s olden minstrelsie,
Quaint Burton, quainter Spenser, ay!
And Gervase Markham’s venerie,—
Nor leave behind
The Holy Book by which we live and die.

Old friends to talk!—
Ay, bring those chosen few,
The wise, the courtly, and the true,
So rarely found;
Him for my wine, him for my stud,
Him for my easel, distich, bud
In mountain walk!
Bring WALTER good:
With soulful FRED; and learned WILL,
And thee, my alter ego (dearer still
For every mood).
These add a bouquet to my wine!
These add a sparkle to the pine!
If these I tine
Can books, or fire or wine be good?

Robert Hinckley Messinger

The Mahogany-Tree

CHRISTMAS is here;
Winds whistle shrill,
Icy and chill,
Little care we;
Little we fear
Weather without,
Sheltered about
The mahogany-tree.

Once on the boughs
Birds of rare plume
Sang, in its bloom;
Night-birds are we;
Here we carouse,
Singing, like them,
Perched round the stem
Of the jolly old tree.

Here let us sport,
Boys, as we sit,—
Laughter and wit
Flashing so free.
Life is but short,—
When we are gone,
Let them sing on,
Round the old tree.

Evenings we knew,
Happy as this;
Faces we miss,
Pleasant to see.
Kind hearts and true,
Gentle and just,
Peace to your dust!
We sing round the tree.

Care, like a dun,
Lurks at the gate:
Let the dog wait;
Happy we ’ll be!
Drink, every one;
Pile up the coals;
Fill the red bowls,
Round the old tree!

Drain we the cup,—
Friend, art afraid?
Spirits are laid
In the Red Sea.
Mantle it up;
Empty it yet;
Let us forget,
Round the old tree!

Sorrows, begone!
Life and its ills,
Duns and their bills,
Bid we to flee.
Come with the dawn,
Blue-devil sprite;
Leave us to-night,
Round the old tree!

William Makepeace Thackeray

The Ballad of Bouillabaisse

A STREET there is in Paris famous,
For which no rhyme our language yields,
Rue Neuve des Petits Champs its name is—
The New Street of the Little Fields;
And there ’s an inn, not rich and splendid,
But still in comfortable case—
The which in youth I oft attended,
To eat a bowl of Bouillabaisse.

This Bouillabaisse a noble dish is—
A sort of soup, or broth, or brew,
Or hotchpotch of all sorts of fishes,
That Greenwich never could outdo;
Green herbs, red peppers, mussels, saffern,
Soles, onions, garlic, roach, and dace;
All these you eat at Terré’s tavern,
In that one dish of Bouillabaisse.

Indeed, a rich and savory stew ’t is;
And true philosophers, methinks,
Who love all sorts of natural beauties,
Should love good victuals and good drinks.
And Cordelier or Benedictine
Might gladly, sure, his lot embrace,
Nor find a fast-day too afflicting,
Which served him up a Bouillabaisse.

I wonder if the house still there is?
Yes, here the lamp is as before;
The smiling, red-cheeked écaillère is
Still opening oysters at the door.
Is Terré still alive and able?
I recollect his droll grimace;
He ’d come and smile before your table,
And hoped you liked your Bouillabaisse.

We enter; nothing ’s changed or older.
“How ’s Monsieur Terré, waiter, pray?”
The waiter stares and shrugs his shoulder;—
“Monsieur is dead this many a day.”
“It is the lot of saint and sinner.
So honest Terré’s run his race!”
“What will Monsieur require for dinner?”
“Say, do you still cook Bouillabaisse?”

“Oh, oui, Monsieur,” ’s the waiter’s answer;
“Quel vin Monsieur désire-t-il?”
“Tell me a good one.” “That I can, sir;
The Chambertin with yellow seal.”
“So Terré ’s gone,” I say and sink in
My old accustomed corner-place;
“He ’s done with feasting and with drinking,
With Burgundy and Bouillabaisse.”

My old accustomed corner here is—
The table still is in the nook;
Ah! vanished many a busy year is
This well-known chair since last I took.
When first I saw ye, Cari luoghi,
I ’d scarce a beard upon my face,
And now a grizzled, grim old fogy,
I sit and wait for Bouillabaisse.

Where are you, old companions trusty
Of early days, here met to dine?
Come, waiter! quick, a flagon crusty—
I ’ll pledge them in the good old wine.
The kind old voices and old faces
My memory can quick retrace;
Around the board they take their places,
And share the wine and Bouillabaisse.

There ’s Jack has made a wondrous marriage;
There ’s laughing Tom is laughing yet;
There ’s brave Augustus drives his carriage;
There ’s poor old Fred in the Gazette;
On James’s head the grass is growing:
Good Lord! the world has wagged apace
Since here we set the Claret flowing,
And drank, and ate the Bouillabaisse.

Ah me! how quick the days are flitting!
I mind me of a time that ’s gone,
When here I ’d sit, as now I ’m sitting,
In this same place—but not alone.
A fair young form was nestled near me,
A dear, dear face looked fondly up,
And sweetly spoke and smiled to cheer me,
—There ’s no one now to share my cup.

* * * *
I drink it as the Fates ordain it.
Come, fill it, and have done with rhymes;
Fill up the lonely glass, and drain it
In memory of dear old times.
Welcome the wine, whate’er the seal is;
And sit you down and say your grace
With thankful heart, whate’er the meal is.
—Here comes the smoking Bouillabaisse!

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811–1863)

The Dead Poet-Friend

From the Greek by W. Cory
THEY told me, Heracleitus, they told me you were dead;
They brought me bitter news to hear and bitter tears to shed.
I wept as I remembered, how often you and I
Had tired the sun with talking and sent him down the sky.

And now that thou art lying, my dear old Carian guest,
A handful of gray ashes, long, long ago at rest,
Still are thy pleasant voices, thy nightingales, awake,
For Death he taketh all away, but these he cannot take.

Callimachus (c. 310–240 B.C.)

Mors et Vita

WE know not yet what life shall be,
What shore beyond earth’s shore be set;
What grief awaits us, or what glee,
We know not yet.

Still somewhere in sweet converse met,
Old friends, we say, beyond death’s sea
Shall meet and greet us, nor forget

Those days of yore, those years when we
Were loved and true,—but will death let
Our eyes the longed-for vision see?
We know not yet.

Samuel Waddington (1844–1923)

To Seek a Friend

Extracts from “Friendship”
WHAT virtue, or what mental grace,
But men unqualified and base
Will boast it their possession?
Profusion apes the noble part
Of liberality of heart,
And dulness, of discretion.

If every polished gem we find
Illuminating heart or mind,
Provoke to imitation;
No wonder friendship does the same,
That jewel of the purest flame,
Or rather constellation.

No friendship will abide the test,
That stands on sordid interest,
Or mean self-love erected;
Nor such as may awhile subsist,
Between the sot and sensualist,
For vicious ends connected.

Who seek a friend should come disposed,
T’ exhibit in full bloom disclosed
The graces and the beauties,
That form the character he seeks,
For ’t is a union that bespeaks
Reciprocated duties.

But will sincerity suffice?
It is indeed above all price,
And must be made the basis;
But ev’ry virtue of the soul
Must constitute the charming whole,
All shining in their places.

A fretful temper will divide
The closest knot that may be tied,
By ceaseless sharp corrosion;
A temper passionate and fierce
May suddenly your joys disperse
At one immense explosion.

In vain the talkative unite
In hopes of permanent delight—
The secret just committed,
Forgetting its important weight,
They drop through mere desire to prate,
And by themselves outwitted.

How bright soe’er the prospect seems,
All thoughts of friendship are but dreams
If envy chance to creep in;
An envious man, if you succeed,
May prove a dang’rous foe indeed,
But not a friend worth keeping.

The great and small but rarely meet
On terms of amity complete;
Plebeians must surrender,
And yield so much to noble folk,
It is combining fire with smoke,
Obscurity with splendor.

Courtier and patriot cannot mix
Their het’rogeneous politics
Without an effervescence,
Like that of salts with lemon-juice,
Which does not yet like that produce
A friendly coalescence.

Religion should extinguish strife,
And make a calm of human life;
But friends that chance to differ
On points which God has left at large,
How freely will they meet and charge!
No combatants are stiffer.

To prove at last my main intent
Needs no expense of argument,
No cutting and contriving—
Seeking a real friend, we seem
T’ adopt the chymists’ golden dream,
With still less hope of thriving.

Sometimes the fault is all our own,
Some blemish in due time made known,
By trespass or omission;
Sometimes occasion brings to light
Our friend’s defect long hid from sight,
And even from suspicion.

Then judge yourself and prove your man
As circumspectly as you can,
And, having made election,
Beware no negligence of yours,
Such as a friend but ill endures,
Enfeeble his affection.

As similarity of mind,
Or something not to be defined
First fixes our attention;
So manners decent and polite,
The same we practised at first sight,
Must save it from declension.

Pursue the search, and you will find
Good sense and knowledge of mankind
To be at least expedient,
And, after summoning all the rest,
Religion ruling in the breast
A principal ingredient.

William Cowper


Modernized by H. Macaulay Fitzgibbon
IF ye would love and lovèd be,
In mind keep well these thingis three,
And sadly in thy breast imprint,—
Be secret, true and patient!

For he that patience can not leir,
He shall displeasance have perquier,
Though he had all this worldis rent:
Be secret, true and patient!

For who that secret cannot be,
Him all good fellowship shall flee,
And credence none shall him be lent:
Be secret, true and patient!

And he that is of heart untrue,
From he be ken’d farewell! adieu!
Fie on him! fie! his fame is went:
Be secret, true and patient!

Thus he that wants ane of these three
Ane lover glad may never be,
But aye in some thing discontent:
Be secret, true and patient!

Nought with thy tongue thyself discure
The thingis that thou hast of nature;
For if thou dost, thou shalt repent:
Be secret, true and patient!

William Dunbar

The Friend

From “On Friendship”

OF all the heavenly gifts that mortal men commend,
What trusty treasure in the world can countervail a friend?
Our health is soon decayed; goods, casual, light and vain;
Broke have we seen the force of power, and honor suffer stain.
In body’s lust man doth resemble but base brute;
True virtue gets and keeps a friend, good guide of our pursuit,
Whose hearty zeal with ours accords in every case;
No term of time, no space of place, no storm can it deface.
When fickle fortune fails, this knot endureth still;
Thy kin out of their kind may swerve, when friends owe thee good-will.
What sweeter solace shall befall, than [such a] one to find
Upon whose breast thou may’st repose the secrets of thy mind?
He waileth at thy woe, his tears with thine be shed;
With thee doth he all joys enjoy, so leef a life is led.
Behold thy friend, and of thyself the pattern see,
One soul, a wonder shall it seem in bodies twain to be;
In absence present, rich in want, in sickness sound,
Yea, after death alive, mayst thou by thy sure friend be found.
Each house, each town, each realm, by thy steadfast love doth stand;
While foul debate breeds bitter bale in each divided land.
O Friendship, flower of flowers! O lively sprite of life!
O sacred bond of blissful peace, the stalworth staunch of strife!

Nicholas Grimald

“Take the world as it is”

TAKE the world as it is!—there are good and bad in it,
And good and bad will be from now to the end;
And they, who expect to make saints in a minute,
Are in danger of marring more hearts than they ’ll mend.
If ye wish to be happy ne’er seek for the faults,
Or you ’re sure to find some thing or other amiss;
’Mid much that debases, and much that exalts,
The world ’s not a bad one if left as it is.

Take the world as it is!—if the surface be shining,
Ne’er rake up the sediment hidden below!
There ’s wisdom in this, but there ’s none in repining
O’er things which can rarely be mended, we know.
There ’s beauty around us, which let us enjoy;
And chide not, unless it may be with a kiss;
Though Earth ’s not the Heaven we thought when a boy,
There ’s something to live for, if ta’en as it is.

Take the world as it is!—with its smiles and its sorrows,
Its love and its friendship,—its falsehood and truth,
Its schemes that depend on the breath of to-morrow,
Its hopes which pass by like the dreams of our youth:
Yet, oh! whilst the light of affection may shine,
The heart in itself hath a fountain of bliss;
In the worst there ’s some spark of a nature divine,
And the wisest and best take the world as it is.

Charles Swain

Auld Lang Syne

SHOULD auld acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to min’?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We ’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

We twa hae run about the braes,
And pu’d the gowans fine;
But we ’ve wandered mony a weary foot
Sin’ auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.

We twa hae paidl’t i’ the burn,
Frae mornin’ sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roared
Sin’ auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.

And here ’s a hand, my trusty fiere,
And gie ’s a hand o’ thine;
And we ’ll tak a right guid-willie waught
For auld lang syne.
For auld, etc.

And surely ye ’ll be your pint-stowp,
And surely I ’ll be mine;
And we ’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet
For auld lang syne.

For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We ’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet,
For auld lang syne.

Robert Burns

The Friend

Through the dark wood
There came to me a friend,
Bringing in his cold hands
Two words – ‘The End.’

His face was fair
As fading autumn flowers,
And the lost joy
Of unforgotten hours.

His voice was sweet
As rain upon a grave;
‘Be brave,’ he smiled.
And yet again – ‘be brave.’

By Richard Le Gallienne

Friend And Foe.

Dearly I love a friend; yet a foe I may turn to my profit;
Friends show me that which I can; foes teach me that which I should.

By Friedrich Schiller

A Friend In Need

Who has room for a friend
Who has money to spend,
And a goblet of gold
For your fingers to hold,
At the wave of whose hand
Leap the salmon to land,
Drop the birds of the air,
Fall the stag and the hare.
Who has room for a friend
Who has money to lend?
We have room for a friend!

Who has room for a friend
Who has nothing to lend,
When the goblet of gold
Is as far from his hold
As the fleet-footed hare,
Or the birds of the air.
Who has room for a friend
Who has nothing to spend?
We know not such a friend.

By Dora Sigerson Shorter

A Friend In The Garden.

He is not John the gardener,
And yet the whole day long
Employs himself most usefully,
The flower-beds among.

He is not Tom the pussy-cat,
And yet the other day,
With stealthy stride and glistening eye,
He crept upon his prey.

He is not Dash the dear old dog,
And yet, perhaps, if you
Took pains with him and petted him,
You’d come to love him too.

He’s not a Blackbird, though he chirps,
And though he once was black;
And now he wears a loose grey coat,
All wrinkled on the back.

He’s got a very dirty face,
And very shining eyes!
He sometimes comes and sits indoors;
He looks–and p’r’aps is–wise.

But in a sunny flower-bed
He has his fixed abode;
He eats the things that eat my plants–
He is a friendly TOAD.

By Juliana Horatia Ewing

Friend Of A Wayward Hour

Friend of a wayward hour, you came
Like some good ghost, and went the same;
And I within the haunted place
Sit smiling on your vanished face,
And talking with – your name.

But thrice the pressure of your hand –
First hail – congratulations – and
Your last “God bless you!” as the train
That brought you snatched you back again
Into the unknown land.

“God bless me?” Why, your very prayer
Was answered ere you asked it there,
I know – for when you came to lend
Me your kind hand, and call me friend,
God blessed me unaware.

By James Whitcomb Riley

The Friends

I had some friends, but I dreamed that they were dead,
Who used to dance with lanterns round a little boy in bed;
Green and white lanterns that waved to and fro:
But I haven’t seen a Firefly since ever so long ago!

I had some friends, their crowns were in the sky,
Who used to nod and whisper when a little boy went by,
As the nuts began to tumble and the breeze began to blow:
And I haven’t seen a Cocoa-palm since ever so long ago!

I had a friend, he came up from Cape Horn,
With a Coal-sack on his shoulder when a little boy was born.
He heard me learn to talk, and he helped me thrive and grow:
But I haven’t seen the Southern Cross since ever so long ago!

I had a boat, I out and let her drive,
Till I found my dream was foolish, for my friends were all alive.
The Cocoa-palms were real, and the Southern Cross was true:
And the Fireflies were dancing, so I danced too!

By Rudyard Kipling


Down through the woods, along the way
That fords the stream; by rock and tree,
Where in the bramble-bell the bee
Swings; and through twilights green and gray
The redbird flashes suddenly,
My thoughts went wandering to-day.

I found the fields where, row on row,
The blackberries hang dark with fruit;
Where, nesting at the elder’s root,
The partridge whistles soft and low;
The fields, that billow to the foot
Of those old hills we used to know.

There lay the pond, all willow-bound,
On whose bright face, when noons were hot,
We marked the bubbles rise; some plot
To lure us in; while all around
Our heads, – like faery fancies, – shot
The dragonflies without a sound.

The pond, above which evening bent
To gaze upon her gypsy face;
Wherein the twinkling night would trace
A vague, inverted firmament;
In which the green frogs tuned their bass,
And firefly sparkles came and went.

The oldtime place we often ranged,
When we were playmates, you and I;
The oldtime fields, with boyhood’s sky
Still blue above them! – Naught was changed:
Nothing. – Alas! then, tell me why
Should we be? whom the years estranged.

Madison Julius Cawein

The Friends.

We were friends, and the warmest of friends, he and I,
Each glance was a language that broke from the heart,
No cloudlet swept over the realm of the sky,
And beneath it we swore that we never would part.

Our fingers were clasped with the clasp of a friend,
Each bosom rebounded with youthful delight,
We were foremost to honour and strong to defend,
And Heaven, beholding, was charmed at the sight.

Around us the pine-crested mountains were piled,
The sward in the vale was as down to the feet,
The far-rolling woodlands were pathless and wild,
And Nature was garbed in a grandeur complete.

Said he, “We are here side by side and alone,
Let us thus in the shade for a little remain,
For we may not return here ere boyhood is flown,
It may be we never shall meet so again.

Come, friend, and record on this reverend oak
Thy name by my own, they shall stand side by side”
And I hastened to do so with glee as he spoke,
And I gazed on the names with a feeling of pride.

Traced deep on the bark they were goodly to see–
What traced by the finger of Friendship is not?
Together they smiled on the trunk of the tree
And as brothers we stood on that sanctified spot.

But alas for a murmur that swept through the trees,
For the sound was a sound as of something sad,
Like a wail that awakes in a breast ill at ease,
‘Twas strange it should be so when all was so glad.

And often since then have I roamed through the vale,
My way have I bent to my favourite tree,
But its branches resound with the self-same wail
Which seems to repeat “Where is he, where is he?”

And again and again have I loved to behold
And fashion the storm-beaten letters anew,
While lingering there as in summers of old,
That spot–it is sweet, it is dear to me too!

Our steps–ah! how fond was our intercourse then–
Like the leaves of the autumn have drifted apart,
And the voices that moan in that overgrown glen
Now melt into weeping the sorrowful heart.

By Lennox Amott


Are friends delight or pain?
Could bounty but remain
Riches were good.

But if they only stay
Bolder to fly away,
Riches are sad.

By Emily Elizabeth Dickinson

Friends. . . Old Friends

Friends . . . old friends . . .
One sees how it ends.
A woman looks
Or a man tells lies,
And the pleasant brooks
And the quiet skies,
Ruined with brawling
And caterwauling,
Enchant no more
As they did before.
And so it ends
With friends.

Friends . . . old friends . . .
And what if it ends?
Shall we dare to shirk
What we live to learn?
It has done its work,
It has served its turn;
And, forgive and forget
Or hanker and fret,
We can be no more
As we were before.
When it ends, it ends
With friends.

Friends . . . old friends . . .
So it breaks, so it ends.
There let it rest!
It has fought and won,
And is still the best
That either has done.
Each as he stands
The work of its hands,
Which shall be more
As he was before? . . .
What is it ends
With friends?

By William Ernest Henley


When presses hard my load of care,
And other friends from me depart,
I want a friend my grief to share,
With faithful speech and loving heart.

I want a friend of noble mind,
Who loves me more than praise or pelf,
Reproves my faults with spirit kind,
And thinks of me as well as self–

A friend whose ear is ever closed
Against traducers’ poison breath;
And, though in me be not disclosed
An equal love, yet loves till death–

A friend who knows my weakness well,
And ever seeks to calm my fears;
If words should fail the storm to quell,
Will soothe my fevered heart with tears–

A friend not moved by jealousy
Should I outrun him in life’s race;
And though I doubt, still trusts in me
With loyal heart and cloudless face.

True friendship knows both joy and grief,
The sweetest pleasure, keenest pain;
Its sharpest pangs are ever brief,
Mere flitting clouds before the rain.

But soon the joy returns again
With bluer sky and brighter light;
The grief proves but a narrow glen
All full of flowers, though hid from sight.

And e’en in darkness we inhale
The fragrant odors love emits;
Friendship like this can never fail–
On love’s strong throne its monarch sits.

True friendship is of greater worth
Than words, though they were solid gold.
To all the glittering gems of earth
I it prefer, a thousandfold.

One Friend I have who knows my heart,
And loves me with a changeless love;
I love Him, too–nor death can part
Us two, for we will love above.

A woman’s love to His is faint;
No brother cleaves as close as He;
No seraph words could ever paint
The love this Friend now bears to me.

By Joseph Horatio Chant


A ruddy drop of manly blood
The surging sea outweighs,
The world uncertain comes and goes;
The lover rooted stays.
I fancied he was fled,–
And, after many a year,
Glowed unexhausted kindliness,
Like daily sunrise there.
My careful heart was free again,
O friend, my bosom said,
Through thee alone the sky is arched,
Through thee the rose is red;
All things through thee take nobler form,
And look beyond the earth,
The mill-round of our fate appears
A sun-path in thy worth.
Me too thy nobleness has taught
To master my despair;
The fountains of my hidden life
Are through thy friendship fair.

By Ralph Waldo Emerson

So, here is the greatest compilation of poems about friendship

Let me know which one is your favorite! ;).


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