60 thoughts on “Emerson on Friendship

    1. In his narrative Emerson speaks of the development of a friendship with a female friend through correspondence alone, first addressing her “Dear …..” progressing to “my most excellent friend”… they maintained a very close friendship having never met. It does exist. 🤗


  1. Some things never change other than possibly the circumstances or how we come to find those things. Friendship is one of those very things and Emerson’s words and observations are apropos.

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  2. It’s true, we can have long distance friendships with people we’ve never met. And, there are so many levels of friendships. A beautiful commentary. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. True friendships are beautiful, Holly. They are possible, but not easy for all to keep and remember to take care of too. Many people are much to busy to give themselves time for friendships too, really sad…
    This is equal no matter the friendships are narrative or in the real world.
    Many like the thought about having friends, but they don’t use the time to invest in those, which makes it to a one way idea.

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  4. A wonderful excerpt! Makes one think.
    I think friendships are a lot of work, and take time to develop into their unique specialness. I’ve always had a lot of acquaintances, some dear. However, very close long standing friends are few, but then I only need a few.
    You are a dear soul, Holly!

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  5. Might be a bit much for a comment, this. It’s a piece called “Dark noise” from “The fence at the edge of my world”…
    a piece I scribbled in the car one night, listening so someone yelling his way home from the pub after the football match was over,
    and thinking od how the world all seems to be about loud harsh voices right now,
    and soft souls, looking for something to heal the scratches…

    Sitting in the car again.
    Summer night.
    Warm and still.

    Looking out on blackness,
    the lapping of gentle water –

    nonchalant in the shimmer of streetlights.

    Back on the main road, a gang of lads are acting like they own the street.

    It’s the thing you do. Yell out. Fill the space with your noise.



    It’s just something you shout…
    when you’re wasted…
    and out with your mates…
    a streak of lightning in a world of soft cloud.

    It’s a drunken thing,
    walking home in giant shoes.

    It’s a big thing where a child used to live…
    screaming at a world that no longer matters,
    shouting a word that means nothing,
    sing-signalling its presence over tiny sky.

    But it’s not my thing.

    I think I’ll stick with the ripples,
    the small tides…

    the things that whisper between flashes of wading bird.

    There are enough people taking the street right now.
    Enough angry voices.
    Enough noise.
    Enough dark engines, revving.

    The streetlamps form an honour guard down the promenade.

    It’s for people who need to see their way home.
    But I’m not going that way.

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    1. I hope you enjoyed the article Keith, thank you for the comment. Often we are pandering to our own ego rather than ethics when speaking a hurtful truth to a friend.
      “A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal. Oscar Wilde 🙂


      1. Holly, Oscar Wilde’s quote should be heeded. Having been a consultant, I would have to tell clients some bad news. I found myself saying “I would be remiss if I did not tell you something.” Now, there is a self-interest in my caution, as I did not want my client saying later “why didn’t you tell me?”

        So, my reaction to Wilde’s caution is we are all self-centered people to varying degrees. Altruism means we can keep a lid on our ego as we help, but it still bubbles in the pot.


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        1. Success in the business world is built on integrity. One must be honest as a matter of ethics and to CYA. In my line of work dishonesty or omission is grounds for losing ones license. I am honest with my personal friends when it is to their benefit, being hurtfully honest to anyone because it benefits me in some way, that is off limits. Thank you for the very wise thought and comment Keith.


  6. I love Emerson and Thoreau and find their complex friendship gives a nod to the thoughts from this passage. My father introduced me to the transcendentalism of Emerson and Thoreau, of which I am truly grateful. Thank you for the reminder. Friendship is treasure, a gift that keeps on giving. “For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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    1. Thank you Rebecca, love the quote by Emerson. Jeffrey Cramer’s book “Solid Seasons: The Friendship of Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson” . describes their relationship as rocky as Thoreau developed his own voice. Still, They remained friends until Thoreau’s death.

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  7. When I recently lost my wife, I was blessed by the compassion and kindness of many true friends, some I barely knew, good human beings with open, loving hearts. Such friendship is a treasure often sadly unnoticed until revealed by times of sorrow.

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    1. That’s so true Tio, I’ve noticed that in times of natural disasters people come together to help one another. It’s a phenomenon, neighbors that one may have never held a conversation with gather to help one another. It’s beautiful.
      I’ve been follow your journey Tio, please accept my deepest condolences. Sending love.


  8. What insightful writing, capturing both the ephemeral nature of self-gratifying friendship and the true tenderness of a friendship that lasts the tests of time. I’m lucky to have one 50 year friendship in which friendship and love have become indistinguishable. Wonderful share, Holly.

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    1. Beautiful message Diana, over time I think we develop such close relationships with lifetime friends that we become an emotional buffer to one another and our feelings extend the “friendship” range. It is about being there, helping and comforting one another and can go much deeper than a casual friendship.

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  9. This is a very deep quote, one that makes my ashamed of my shallow thinking. I think in this age of ever increasing alienation, anomie and atomisation that’s friendship is an increasingly difficult concept to grasp for a lot of people, myself included. I will have to think on this some more.

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    1. I think it’s a fine essay but in today’s world it can be argued that a lot of it is outdated. Still it is beautiful as is the concept of true friendship. To feel you can be straightforward and honest and not turn that person away, they will remain your friend is the best feeling ever.

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  10. Friendship? Hmmm. Even harder to define or catch than Love…
    My personal definition? If you can be with someone a whole day without the need to talk, just be together, then you really have a friend…

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