Monday 25 January 2016

Poem: Friendship

Posted by Theo Olivet *

Original painting by T.A. Marrison
A central question of life is that of where may I find firm ground as I search for my own position? Subsidiary ones are: Does friendship help? Is it possible to obtain support through common suffering? Or to define one's future position? And to what extent may one find strength through the weaknesses of others? 

Translated from the original German by Pi Editors

Come, let the two of us bow down
at this, our so familiar place,
so many stubs you stubbed out here,
the white smoke rising from your face.

And then, in that deep silence
to which we often yielded,
A raw cough I coughed
and my eyes from yours I shielded.

At times a gentle word fell,
'I run from me, tomorrow.'
And you in turn, said frankly:
'My man has not been found, though,
I guess I am my own first foe ...'
I asked:  'You mean, above, below?'
Then we wept aloud.

Those were the days! I tell myself.
So awesome! they won't come again,
yet we stood there, all four feet
in a sea of tar then …

Come, give me one of yours
since mine are dull in taste,
I am changing, it would seem to me,
this house has all but gone to waste,
my doors are much a'rattling,
oh, were my sails by new wind chased.

The cigarette, yeah …  I say thank you,
the way it tastes, the smoke reminds me
how oft you fingered stubs and drew.
You … yes you … I wish once more to be
with you

* Theo Olivet is an author, artist, and retired judge in Schleswig-Holstein
The original German language poem appears at Gedicht: Freundschaft


Unknown said...

A good poem - I can smell the closeness from the smoke though I have never smoked.

Thomas O. Scarborough said...

There have been some posts on Pi which strangely 'stay with one'. They are memorable. One keeps thinking about them. This is one of them. It 'surprises' one.

It surprised me in the beginning, too. I originally approached Theo Olivet for a philosophical reflection on a distinguished career in law. Then 'Friendship' arrived.

For those who understand German, there is a link to the original German in the small print.

Unknown said...

Men need mirrors to know themselves. Without a mirror you wouldn’t even know the look of yourself. Other people are your mirrors, but friends are those you know better, hence better mirrors. This is an important function of friendship.

docmartincohen said...

Thank you for sharing this, Theo

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