My apologies because computer meltdown has meant a delay in sharing the dovegrey Candlestick Chapter's thoughts on the next two pamphlets which we had received. For those of you who might have missed it I had asked whether there might be ten of you around the world who would like to receive and comment on the newest pamphlets and there was no shortage of volunteers. And there has been no slacking out there either, I asked nicely last week and the Chapter have provided, so this week I'll share their thoughts in a few posts.
I am very grateful today for Jessica in California's heartfelt piece on Ten Poems about Friendship
Hello again, from the Dovegreyreader’s Candlestick Chapter.
Last time---which was our First time---we reviewed “The Twelve Poems of Christmas: Volume 8”. Today the theme is Friendship and the booklet is a lovely sky blue, aptly titled “Ten Poems about Friendship” compiled by Lorraine Mariner.
Right now my best friend from high school is dying. You know that special list you keep of friends with their phone numbers and faces etched on your heart; the people you NEED to call when THINGS happen in your life? For forty-one years Lynette has been the top, bottom and middle of that list.
Every Friday for the last few months I leave my suburban tract home, tussle with a bit of increasingly congested freeway, turn left onto a long and winding road through vineyards and redwoods, past small and then smaller towns until, just over an hour later, I make the final left turn to her charming Victorian cottage perched on the banks of the Russian River.
Mostly we spend our day admiring the view and the moods of the River that usually meanders but with our current rains has been doing a bit more rumbling and tumbling past the gate at the bottom of the stairs to her back patio. I make the rounds of her utterly luscious garden and hope that my recent successes at home really does mean that at long last Lynette’s amazing green thumbs are starting to rub off on my severely black digits. We have a routine: talking about children, husbands, what books we have been reading or TV shows we have been watching. After all these years we have a near perfect record of NEVER liking the same things, EVER.
And then I make a pot of tea, usually Lady Grey (Earl with some lavender) and we talk about life…and death.
I am a Nurse Practitioner. I think there will not be many more Fridays with Lynette.
Robert Frost, a poet we American’s claim but who had to go first to England to get the support and appreciation needed to make a living from his craft, says: “a poem is never a put-up job. It begins as a lump in the throat.”
And so I opened Ten Poems about Friendship hoping to find a poem that would help me find the words.
This collection could not have been more perfect.
Lorraine Mariner discovered that poets “were a sociable lot” and that there were oodles of poems on Friendship. She rightly nixed poems about “wanting to be more than friends” and about friendships “gone horribly wrong”. She chose a selection, accessible and…well…poetic, without being maudlin or superficial that forms a “journey through a lifetime of friendship”.
The very first poem skips along the page like Pooh and Piglet.
The pleasures of friendship are exquisite,
How pleasant to go to a friend on a visit!
I go to my friend, we walk on the grass,
And the hours and moments like minutes pass.
The Pleasures of Friendship, Stevie Smith (1902-1971)
Emily Wills’ “Gossip” reminds us that the Friendship of girls ages 10 and 11 more often resembles an amusement park roller-coaster ride, leaving we poor mothers (also friends) with a sort of confused whiplash.
“Inventory” by Lorraine Marriner absolutely nails Friendship in the era of social media…
“On my birthday 62 of my 484 friends wished me a happy birthday.
This was a reduction of 16 on last year.”
Unlike Romance, Friendship isn’t limited to two at a time (well, in the ordinary run of things anyway!) Alden Knowlan speaks of wishing for a perfect pair of friends to keep him company, to whom he can call:
“Hey! Wake Up! I’m Lonesome.”
I found my new favourite poet, Jackie Kay who sings her poems, her pen surely kissed by a selkie:
“I saw the girl you’d been, the old woman you’d be.
I came to your garden when no apples were on your trees;
I danced an African dance so your ghosts would leave.”
And…I found my poem for Lynette, the poem that takes the lump in my throat and puts it into words:
Such love I cannot analyse;
It does not rest in lips or eyes.
Neither in kisses nor caress.
Partly, I know, its gentleness
And understanding in one words
Or in brief letters. It’s preserved
By trust and by respect and awe.
These are the words I’m feeling for.
Two people, yes, two lasting friends.
The giving comes, the taking ends.
There is no measure for such things.
For this all Nature slows and sings.
Friendship by Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001)
…I thought it was a perfect collection of poems about Friendship.
They spoke to me...how about to you out there around the world in Dovegreyreader Land...