The Faithful Friend

O, FRIEND! whose heart the grave doth shroud from human joy or woe,
Know'st thou who wanders by thy tomb, with footsteps sad and slow?
Know'st thou whose brow is dark with grief? whose eyes are dim with tears?
Whose restless soul is sinking with its agony of fears?
Whose hope hath fail'd, whose star hath sunk, whose firmest trust deceived,
Since, leaning on thy faithful breast, he loved and believed?

'Tis I!--Return and comfort me, for old remembrance' sake,--
From the long silence of the tomb--the cheerless tomb--awake!
I listen--all is still as death--no welcome step is nigh,--
I call thee, but thou answerest not--the grave hath no reply!
But mournfully the strange bright sun shines on thy funeral stone,
And sadly, in the cypress bough, the wild wind makes her moan.

When we were young, and cheerfully the promised future glow'd,
I little thought to stand alone by this thy last abode;
I little thought, in early days, O generous and kind!
That THOU, the first, shouldst quit the earth, and leave me, wreck'd, behind.

Thine was the pure unjealous love! I know they told us then
That Genius's gifts divided me from dull and common men;
That thou wert slow to science; that the chrat and letter'd page
Had in them no deep spell whereby thy spirit to engage;
But rather thou wouldst sail thy boat, or sound thy bugle horn,
Or track the sportsman's triumph thro' the fields of waving corn,
Than o'er the pond'rous histories of other ages bend,
And it was true! Our minds were cast as pleased the will of Heaven,
And different powers unto me, and unto thee, were given!
No trick of talent deck'd thy speech and glorified thy youth,--
Its simple spell of eloquence lay in its earnest truth;
Nor was the gladsome kindliness which brighten'd on thy brow,
The beauty which in fiction wins Love's fond romantic vow;
But gazing on thine honest face, intelligently bold,
Oft have I doubted of the gifts which men so precious hold,--
Wit, learning, wealth, seem'd overprized, since thou, dear friend, couldst be
So closely knit unto my heart by thy simplicity.

The worldly-wise may sneer at this, and scorn thee, if they will,--
THY judgment was not sharpen'd by the cunning of their skill;
No deep and calculating thoughts lay buried in thy breast,
To chill and vex thy honest heart, and startle it from rest;
No dream of cold philosophy, to make thee doubt and sigh,
And fawn and flatter half thy kind, and pass the others by!
And there thou liest forgotten--thou faithful friend, and true--
Thy resting-place beneath the cold damp shadow of the yew;
And quietly within the tomb's dark precincts wert thou laid,
As a faded leaf unnoticed drops within the forest's shade.

How should the world have tears for thee!--the world hath nothing lost--
No parent's high ambitious hope THY early death hath crost;
No sculptured falsehood gives to fame thy monumental stone,--
From the glory of our Senate-house, nor orator is gone:

Science hath lost no well-known name,--no soldier's heart shall bound,
Linking old England's victories with that inglorious sound;
No jealous and tomb-trampling foe shall find it worth his while,
With a false history of thy acts, thy country to beguile;
No mercenary hand in haste prepare the letter'd tome,
And publicly reveal the fond small weaknesses of Home;
Not some vainglorious friend (who yet hath lov'd thee to the last)
Permit all men to buy and sell his records of the past;
Nor give thy living letters up, nor print thy dying words;
Nor sweep with sacrilegious hand Affection's holy chords;
Nor with a frozen after-thought dissect thy generous heart,
And count each pulse that bid thy blood gush with a quicker start.

No! Blest OBSCURITY was thine! In sacred darkness dwells
The mem'ry of THY last fond looks and faltering farewells;

And none shall drag thy actions forth, for Slander or for Praise,
To that broad light which never glowed round thy unnoticed days.
At times a recollected jest, or snatch of merry song,
Which was so thine, that still to thee its ringing notes belong,
To boon companions back again thy image may recal,--
But lightly sits thy memory, oh Faithful Friend, on all!
The old house still hath echoes glad; tho' silent be thy voice,
Thy empty place at bed and board forbids not to rejoice!
Still with its white and gleaming sail, by strangers launch'd to float
Across the blue lake in the sun, glides on thy little boat;
Thy steed another rider backs,--thy dogs new masters find,
But I,--I mourn thy absence still, thou generous and kind:
Since I have lo
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Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton

Caroline Elizabeth Sarah Norton was an English feminist, social reformer, and author of the early and mid-nineteenth century. more…

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"The Faithful Friend" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 20 Feb. 2020. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/4792/the-faithful-friend>.

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