Top 10 Famous Poems About Friendship

Consider grabbing a line from one of these 10 famous poems about friendship to show your friends you care.

While many famous poets wax eloquent on the subject of love, poems about friendship are also quite beautiful and poignant. Many famous friendship quotes throughout history come from poetry, and studying famous friendship poems can give keen insight into one of the most fundamental relationships in life.

As you walk hand in hand with your best friends through this life, these 10 poems about friendship may give you the words you need to tell those friends just how much they mean to you.

1. “I Knew a Man by Sight” by Henry David Thoreau

Poems About Friendship: “I Knew a Man by Sight” by Henry David Thoreau
National Portrait Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Henry David Thoreau was a poet and essayist who hailed from Massachusetts in the 1800s. He often wrote about nature and human existence, which led to writing about human relationships. He died at 44, but despite his young age, he had over 20 volumes to his name.

In “I Knew a Man by Sight,” Thoreau explores the story of two men who didn’t know each other well at the beginning, yet later started to become friends. It shows the slow progression from people who pass in the street to people who become good friends, sharing intimate details about their day. Readers can see themselves in the progression, too, as this is how many people become close friends over a lifetime.

“I knew a man by sight,
A blameless wight,
Who, for a year or more,
Had daily passed my door,
Yet converse none had had with him.”

2. Sonnet 104 by William Shakespeare

A discussion of friendship poems is not complete without including one of the famous sonnets from poetry and playwright William Shakespeare. The 16th-century English playwright solidified the Sonnet as an art form and is considered one of the English language’s greatest writers.

Though many of Shakespeare’s sonnets are love poems, Sonnet 104 is written to a friend. In the poem, Shakespeare indicates his good friend still seems young, though they must now be old. With true friends, time passes so slowly that it is hard to see, and Shakespeare perfectly captures this reality. 

“To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I eyed,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,”

3. “The Arrow and the Song” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a 19th-century American poet famous for many of his poems that showcase historical events in poetic form. He was the most prominent poet of his time in America, and his work made poetry an accepted literary form in the country.

The Arrow and the Song” shows the power of words, even between friends. Some believe the arrow represents harsh words, while the song is indicative of kind words. Both, once released from the speaker, stay in the world. With friends, one must strive to release songs, not arrows, because, with both items, you cannot get them back once it is released.

“I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth,I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.”

4. “Your Catfish Friend by Richard Brautigan

Richard Brautigan was part of the counter-culture movement of the 1970s, so it is not surprising that his poetry breaks away from the traditional meter and rhyme schemes and takes a more modern approach.

Your Catfish Friend” sets up a hypothetical scenario where the speaker is a catfish on the bottom of a pond. It indicates that if the hearer wandered past the pond, the catfish would be their friend. This poem is a bit whimsical, but it captures the reader and makes them think about what a dedicated friend looks like.

“I’d love you and be your catfish
friend and drive such lonely
thoughts from your mind
and suddenly you would be
at peace,
and ask yourself, “I wonder
if there are any catfish
in this pond? It seems like
a perfect place for them.””

5. “A Poison Tree” by William Blake

William Blake was often overlooked during the 1700s when writing poetry, mainly due to his non-conformist views on religion. However, today he is considered one of the leaders in English poetry. His works have grown in popularity over the decades as people have realized how creative his vision and work were.

In “A Poison Tree,” Blake discusses what happens when he is angry with his friend and shares the concern, addressing the anger so it can die. Then, the poet becomes angry with an enemy and does not confront the foe. The anger grows into a poisonous tree that eventually kills the enemy with its poison.

“I was angry with my friend; 
I told my wrath, my wrath did end.
I was angry with my foe: 
I told it not, my wrath did grow.“

6. “Us Two” by A.A. Milne

A.A. Milne is the famous creator of Winnie-the-Pooh and the tales of the Hundred Acre Wood. Born in London, Milne made his mark on the literary world as a children’s author and poet. During World War I, he also wrote propaganda articles and had some plays in his body of works.

“Us Two” is a poem about the speaker’s friendship with Winnie-the-Pooh. Though the speaker is unnamed, it is likely Pooh’s best friend, Christopher Robin. The simple, repetitive structure showcases the simplicity of childhood friendships, which is the poem’s main theme. Its simplicity fits beautifully with the world of Pooh and friends.

“Wherever I am, there’s always Pooh,
There’s always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
“Where are you going today?” says Pooh:
“Well, that’s very odd ‘cos I was too.
Let’s go together,” says Pooh, says he.
“Let’s go together,” says Pooh.”

7. “Hug o’ War” by Shel Silverstein

Poems About Friendship: “Hug o’ War” by Shel Silverstein
Jerry Yulsman (given on back of dust jacket), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Shel Silverstein is famous for his simple drawings and child-friendly poetry. Even though his poetry is written with children in mind, it often leaves the reader thinking of a deeper meaning.

Hug o’ War” is a famous, uplifting poem about friendship and family that talks about rather than playing tug o’ war, people should play “hug o’ war,” a game in which people hug, laugh, and smile. It is a feel-good poem that encourages respect and love instead of violence and competition.

“I will not play at tug o’ war.
I’d rather play at hug o’ war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs,
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses,
And everyone grins,
And everyone cuddles,
And everyone wins.”

8. “A Time to Talk” by Robert Frost

One of the most celebrated American poets, Robert Frost, lived most of his life in New England. He published his first poem just after graduating high school in 1892, leading to a prolific career as a writer.

A Time to Talk” is a short Frost poem about taking time for a friendly visit. Work will always remain there for you to take on, and sometimes a talk with a friend is just what you need to keep going about your day. After reading the poem, many will realize the importance of stopping and spending time with people.

“When a friend calls to me from the road
And slows his horse to a meaning walk,
I don’t stand still and look around
On all the hills I haven’t hoed,
And shout from where I am, What is it?
No, not as there is a time to talk.
I thrust my hoe in the mellow ground,
Blade-end up and five feet tall,
And plod: I go up to the stone wall
For a friendly visit.”

9. “Love and Friendship” by Emily Bronte

Emily Bronte was a reclusive writer in the mid-1800s who died when she was just 30 years old. Though little is truly known about her life, her literary works live on, with much of them published after her death. While she is most famous for Wuthering Heights, she also wrote several inspirational poems.

In “Love and Friendship,” Bronte compares love to a rose and friendship to the holly tree. While love may be brilliant when the friendship seems just dark, it is friendship that will carry someone most constantly through life.

“Love is like the wild rose-briar,
Friendship like the holly-tree-
The holly is dark when the rose-briar blooms
But which will bloom most constantly?”

10. “Old Friends” by Edgar A. Guest

With an estimated 11,000 poems to his name, Edgar A. Guest was a prolific American poet who lived in and wrote in the early 1900s. He wrote poems that were 14 lines long and talked about everyday life and problems.

In “Old Friends,” Guest indicates that having friends for life is essential to getting through life’s difficulties. It is old friendships are the best friendships to have when facing heartbreak. Those old friends are there for you when life throws you a difficult challenge.

“I do not say new friends are not considerate and true,
Or that their smiles ain’t genuine, but still I’m tellin’ you
That when a feller’s heart is crushed and achin’ with the pain,
And teardrops come a-splashin’ down his cheeks like summer rain,
Becoz his grief an’ loneliness are more than he can bear,
Somehow it’s only old friends, then, that really seem to care.”

To learn more, check out our round-up of the top villanelle poems!

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