Of all old friends, those we have of old are best;
These the souls we travel with by preference,
Theirs the spirits to whom we grant all deference.
Their hopes are ours, and ours their own;
All victories shared, from like ambitions grown.
Their years match step with ours,
And show like passage of the hours,
The silent steps of Time with which are lives are sown.
They are moved as we are moved;
Troubled and pleased by like turns of Fate,
We pass through one another's gates
Into the rooms where loyalty is proved
By ties of woven sympathies,
By bonds that no outsider sees.
By bonds that no outsider sees
We tie ourselves to those who share
The pithy heart of all unspoken cares,
The shadows that would dim our days
If no one shared our private ways,
If none there were to let us know
The fitness of the face we dare not show;
The old friend nods and quietly stays
Close by our side when mere acquaintance leaves,
Unashamed to share our darkest inner night;
Awaits with us the slow return of light.
The old friend trusts and faithfully believes
The tales we tell ourselves of joy or sorrow,
Looking back to yesterday and forward to tomorrow.
Looking back to yesterday and forward to tomorrow,
We walk with them through the wilderness of living
Thankful for their prescence and forgiving,
As do we, the flaws that mark our human bounds
Ignoring the discordant note that sounds
From time to time in all the narrative
We build to define our days and give
Form and substance to the constant rounds
Of night to day and day to night,
Our mutual progress towards Eternity,
The approaching dark we do not wish to see
Unless in company with the comforting light
Of well-earned close companionship,
Of sympathetic souls who join us on the trip.
Seeking truths wherein the brave heart delves,
We guide each other through our dwindling days
And face the world, and learn its ways,
Its cruelties and its beauties shared
Both the better for each time we dared
To question this, our common Lot:
To Be, awhile, and then to Not.
And so we share all we have got
To fill our time, to weave our lives.
Without old friends, the path is drear and long,
Where goes but one to compose the song
To tell of what we were, and how we strived
To rescue Sense from Folly, and all the rest;
Of all friends, those we have of old are best.