A faithful friend is the medicine of life

A faithful friend is the medicine of life [1] 

Son of Sirach
In the dreams of delight which with ardour we seek
Oft the phantom of sorrow appears;
And the roses of pleasure, which bloom on your cheek
Must be steep'd in the dew of your tears.
'Mid the fountain of bliss when it sparkles most bright5
Salt mixtures imbitter the spring, [2] 
Tho' its lustre may tremble thro' bowers of delight,
In the draught disappointment will sting.
But if Heav'n hath one cup of enjoyment bestow'd
Unmingled and sweet as its own;10
In the streams of affection its bounty hath flow'd,
And there we may taste it alone.
But the pure simple drops Love would seize as his prize,
And defile them with passion's foul tide;
While the bowl he prepares as it dazzles our eyes15
The poison of anguish can hide.
Let friendship the stream, as it flows calm and clear,
Receive unpolluted for me,
Or if tenderness mingle a sigh or a tear,
The draught still the sweeter shall be.20
But let me reject the too high flavour'd bowl
Affectation or flattery compose.
From sincerity's urn thus transparent shall roll
The cordial of peace and repose.
Oh! give me the friend from whose warm faithful breast25
The sigh breathes responsive to mine.
Where my cares may obtain the soft pillow of rest
And my sorrows may love to recline.
Not the friend who my hours of pleasure will share
But abide not the season of grief,30
Who flies from the brow that is darken'd by care,
And the silence that looks for relief.
Not the friend who, suspicious of change or of guile,
Would shrink from a confidence free;
Nor him who with fondness complacent can smile35
On the eye that looks coldly on me.
As the mirror that just to each blemish or grace,
To myself will my image reflect,
But to none but myself will that image retrace,
Nor picture one absent defect.40
To my soul let my friend be a mirror as true
Thus my faults from all others conceal,
Nor absent those failings nor follies renew
Which from Heav'n and from man he should veil.



[1] EDITOR'S NOTE: "A faithful friend is the medicine of life" is printed (undated) in Psyche, with Other Poems; Tighe inscribes an autograph copy on the first pages of her sister-in-law Camilla Blachford's album Album Camilla 1800 (NLW MS 22983B) ca. 1800. The title refers to the Wisdom of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus: "A faithful friend is the medicine of life; and they that fear the Lord shall find him" (6.16). BACK

[2] EDITOR'S NOTE: Tighe's note: "-------- Medio de fonte leporum / Surgit amari aliquid quod in ipsis floribus angat. Lucretius." Tighe cites Lucretius's De Rerum Natura 4.1133-34: "From the midst of the fountain of delight arises a drop of bitterness to vex us even among the flowers." BACK

[3] EDITOR'S NOTE: The manuscript contains a very faded image that appears to be an outline of an urn (perhaps "sincerity's urn"). BACK