Delight or pain?

Are friends delight or pain?
Could bounty but remain
Riches were good.

But if they only stay
Bolder to fly away,
Riches are sad.

~Emily Dickinson

Today, thank your delightful friends. Give thanks for the ones who will listen to you complain about having to do homework, who will talk you down when you’re freaking out about work, who appreciate you when it seems no one else does, who send you unexpected care packages and make you tea and make time for you. Thank the ones who are always there to remind you that you’re not a terrible human being, the ones who make you laugh until you cry. The ones who are honest. The ones who are real.

As for the other ones, well–let them fly away. If you have one true friend, you have riches indeed.

ALTER? When the hills do

ALTER? When the hills do.
Falter? When the sun
Question if his glory
Be the perfect one.

Surfeit? When the daffodil
Doth of the dew;
Even as herself, O friend!
I will of you!

Emily Dickinson

The first thing I love about this poem is the enjambment, which is a fancy way of saying that I like the way the lines continue over the line breaks, especially after that first hard stop of “Alter? When the hills do.” We start off with a strong statement and a strong ending, and then the other three lines of the quatrain continue from line 2.

But the first stanza is telling us things that the speaker will not do: she will not alter, and she will not falter. She’s with you until the end, basically. Now, in the second stanza, she’s using the word “surfeit” as a verb–we know this because she’s continuing the pattern set up in the first stanza–and “surfeit” is not a verb that most of us use commonly.

According to a quick search, the verb means wanting to be done with something because you’ve done that thing too much. Again, the speaker is telling us something she won’t do: she will not get tired of the friend, just like daffodils won’t get tired of the dew.

I like this poem as a sweet nod to friendship. Will I ever change, and not want you as a friend? Nope. Will I ever be unsteady in supporting you? Also no. Am I going to get tired of you? That’s just ridiculous.