A Lost Friend by John Boyle O’Reilly

John Boyle O’Reilly  was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was transported to Western Australia.

Ireland’s 100 favourite poems

He escaped to America, and campaigned for the Irish community and culture through his newspaper Boston’s The Pilot.

Excerpt from A Lost Friend by Irish poet John Boyle O'Reilly

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A Lost Friend

My friend he was; my friend from all the rest;
With childlike faith he oped to me his breast;
No door was locked on altar, grave or grief;
No weakness veiled, concealed no disbelief;
The hope, the sorrow and the wrong were bare,
And ah, the shadow only showed the fair!

I gave him love for love; but, deep within,
I magnified each frailty into sin:
Each hill-topped foible in the sunset glowed,
Obscuring vales where rivered virtttes flowed.
Reproof became reproach, till common grew
The captious word at every fault I knew.
He smiled upon the censorship, and bore
With patient love the touch that wounded sore;
Until at length, so had my blindness grown,
He knew I judged him by his faults alone.

Alone, of all men, I who knew him best,
Refused the gold, to take the dross for test!
Cold strangers honoured for the worth they saw;
His friend forgot the diamond in the flaw.

At last it came—the day he stood apart
When from my eyes he proudly veiled his heart;
When carping judgment and uncertain word
A stern resentment in his bosom stirred;
When in his face I read what I had been,
And with his vision saw what he had seen.

Too late! too late! Oh, could he then have known,
When his love died, that mine had perfect grown;
That when the veil was drawn, abased, chastised,
The censor stood, the lost one truly prized.

Too late we learn—a man must hold his friend
Unjudged, accepted, trusted to the end.

Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Ireland's 100 favourite poems

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