19th Century

A friend, lads, a friend (1888) | Frederick Langbridge

The following poem appeared in the Leisure Hour in December 1888 and was written by Frederick Langbridge.[1] It has been transcribed by Stephen Basdeo.

Of all the good gifts in royallest measure

Drop down to the earth from the beautiful skies,

A friend, lads, a friend is the fittest to treasure—

A friend, with a soul in his straight-looking eyes;

A near one, a dear one, a sterling and sound one,

Scarce twice is he found in our life’s working day;

Thank God with rejoicing if only you’ve found one,

And love him and keep him for ever and aye.

Ah comrades enow (be it said with decorum)

You’ll get for the asking in hamlets and towns,

Who gaily will empty the glasses you pour ‘em,

And laugh at your sallies and borrow your crowns.

But these jolly birds are of volatile feather;

They fly with the autumn and come with the spring;

If clouds are presaging a change in the weather,

They’ll bid you good-bye with a flick of the wing.

A friend, lads, God bless him! warm-hearted, stout-handed,

He’s loving and loyal and always the same;

But still to your follies he’s open and candid—

You prize his approval, you shrink from his blame.

He’ll laugh at your side when the Maytime is shining

But closer he’ll draw on the storm-beaten way;

He’s like the old coat with the honest warm lining—

You’ll find out his worth in the winterly day.

[1] Frederick Langbridge, ‘A Friend, lads, a friend’, Leisure Hour, December 1888, 797.

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