Years later, I dig out the verse with the comprehension that was missing. This poem is actually not a poem at all, though it was included in the 1936 version of Best Loved Poems of the American People under the title "Friendship." It is really an exclamation from a character in an 1859 novel called A Life for a Life by the English writer Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, who was born in 1826. From the Wikipedia entry:
A Life for a Life (1859)
Thus ended our little talk: yet it left a pleasant impression. True, the subject was strange enough; my sisters might have been shocked at it; and at my freedom in asking and giving opinions. But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort — the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person — having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.
Somebody must have done a good deal of the winnowing business this afternoon; for in the course of it I gave him as much nonsense as any reasonable man could stand ...
I posted this piece for one of my very early Poetry Fridays, and this slightly revised version seems a fitting retread for today.
Imagine a world where the breath was used for that kindness of blowing the unintended nonsense away...
Poetry Friday is hosted by the inestimable Miss Rumphius.
Lovely words. We so need that breath of kindness.
Wonderful post. It makes more sense as an excerpt than as a poem. Somehow, knowing that's what it is makes it more accessible. Weird, but true.
I did not know the source for this bit of sentimentality ;)
Sentimentality, perhaps...but it's a nice bit of sentimentality! Quite lovely, in fact.
The "sentimentality" bug must have infected (nicely, I'm thinking) a few of us this week - I, too, posted a poem on The Drift Record that was more sentimental than I normally like. Wonder what's up? Could it be that the more exhausted we get (by politics, by the irony-rich 21st-century, by cultural disconnects)the more we lower our defenses against unabashed sentiment? I hope I never slide over into what I've always thought of as Thomas Kincaid country - precious and twee - but a bit of unguardedness (true love, true friendship, true feeling) is a relief sometimes, isn't it?
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