To A Half-Friend.

From: The Bird and the Bell with Other Poems (1875)
Author: Christopher Pearse Cranch
Published: Osgood and Company 1875 Boston


How well I know the secret spell to tum
Your best good-will to me,—
The delicate untruth could I but learn
Of well-bred flattery.

Just to o’erstep the plain sincerity
Of friend to friend, no more;
Only to hint, “Your truth is truth to me,
No higher and no lower”;

Seeming to prize your quality and gift,
Though not on praise intent,
But on the current of our talk to drift
Into a smooth assent;

To accept without demur or differing eyes
The half-truth of your thought,
And hide- my protest in a compromise
By dumb good-nature taught;

To linger on your chosen plot of ground,
As if I too would choose it;
To know a richer realm lies all around
Your fence, and yet refuse it;

To fear to disagree, though what you say
Savors of sect and clan;
My fortress of conviction to betray
And yield life’s cherished plan;

To slight the solemn conscience pressing down
Upon my private faith;
To wear the decorous fashion of the town;
To hear some shadowy wraith,

Instead of what I know to be myself,
Utter opinions squared
To social rules,—a poor, unreal elf
Consenting to be snared,

And playing out a graceful pantomime
Where earnest words are naught,
To catch the easy plaudits of the time,
But hide my dearest thought;—

Thus might I win you soon to be my friend,
Now half a friend at best.
Yet none would say I flattered. I but send
Some fractious thoughts to rest.

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