Friendship (“Let such pure hate still underprop…”)

By Henry D. Thoreau

“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers.”

   Our love, that we may be
   Each other’s conscience,
   And have our sympathy
   Mainly from thence.

   We’ll one another treat like gods,
   And all the faith we have
   In virtue and in truth, bestow
   On either, and suspicion leave
   To gods below.

   Two solitary stars —
   Unmeasured systems far
   Between us roll,
   But by our conscious light we are
   Determined to one pole.

   What need confound the sphere —
   God can afford to wait,
   For him no hour’s too late
   That witnesseth our duty’s end,
   Or to another doth beginning lend.

   Love will subserve no use,
   More than the tints of flowers,
   Only the independent guest
   Frequents its bowers,
   Inherits its bequest.

   No speech though kind has it,
   But kinder silence doles
   Unto its mates,
   By night consoles,
   By day congratulates.

   What saith the tongue to tongue?
   What heareth ear of ear?
   By the decrees of fate
   From year to year
   Does it communicate.

   Pathless the gulf of feeling yawns —
   No trivial bridge of words,
   Or arch of boldest span,
   Can leap the moat that girds
   The sincere man.

   No show of bolts and bars
   Can keep the foeman out,
   Or ‘scape his secret mine
   Who entered with the doubt
   That drew the line.

   No warden at the gate
   Can let the friendly in,
   But like the sun o’er all
   He will the castle win,
   And shine along the wall.

   There’s nothing in the world I know
   That can escape from love,
   For every depth it goes below,
   And every height above.

   It waits as waits the sky,
   Until the clouds go by,
   Yet shines serenely on
   With an eternal day,
   Alike when they are gone,
   And when they stay.

   Implacable is Love—
   Foes may be bought or teased
   From their hostile intent,
   But he goes unappeased
   Who is on kindness bent.


Source: The Dial (October 1841) pp. 204-205