OPPC_Poster_Oct2013The One Page Poetry Circle will meet on October 8 to discuss Poetry and Friendship.

Poems of friendship can celebrate the traits of the individual as well as the nature of friendshipitself. Abigail remembers singing in Girl Scouts, “Make new friends/And keep the old/One is silver/And the other gold.” Whereas love grows bright and withers, friendship lasts; as Emily Bronte wrote, “Love is like the wild rose-briar,/Friendship like the holly-tree–/The holly Is dark when the rose-briar blooms/But which will bloom most constantly?”

There is a long tradition of poets addressing poems to their friends like the ancient Roman poet Catullus whose poems read like letters to a friend. W. B. Yeats wrote in “The Spur,” “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends/And say my glory was I had such friends.” William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, as well as Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, dedicated verses to each other and wrote about each other in poems. Pets can also be true friends who teach us loyalty and caring. David Lehman celebrates the dog Molly, “For she does not lie awake in the dark and weep for her sins, and whine about her condition, and discuss her duty to God.”

The following poem, from A.E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad (1896), expresses the melancholic view of an older man remembering an ideal time of his youth and friendships. Ludlow itself, a town walled in by an ancient castle, had become industrialized by the time Housman wrote the poem. In these few lines, Housman evokes the memory of the past and the reality of the present:

A.E. Houseman

When I came last to Ludlow
Amidst the moonlight pale,
Two friends kept step beside me,
Two honest lads and hale.

Now Dick lies long in the churchyard,
And Ned lies long in jail,
And I come home to Ludlow
Amidst the moonlight pale.

Although the narrator retraces his steps in returning to Ludlow, everything has changed, particularly the situation of his friends. Like his two visits, the line “Amidst the moonlight pale” repeats and changes. In the first verse the line evokes a lovely, picturesque view, while in the second verse it describes a lifeless feeling, and perhaps even the narrator himself.

Tell us what you think about this poem or post another poem about friendship.