A French writer (whom I love well) speaks of three kinds of companions : men, women, and books.


WE have companions, comrade mine:
Jolly good fellows, tried and true,
Are filling their cups with the Rhenish wine,
And pledging each other, as I do you.
Never a man in all the land
But has, in his hour of need, a friend,
Who stretches to him a helping hand
And stands by him to the bitter end.
If not before, there is comfort then,
In the strong companionship of men.
But better than that, old friend of mine,
Is the love of woman, the life of life,
Whether in maiden’s eyes it shine,
Or melts in the tender kiss of wife;
A heart contented to feel, not know,
That finds in the other its solo delight;
White hands that are loath to let us go,
The tenderness that is more than might!
On earth below, in heaven above,
Is there anything better than woman’s love?
I do not say so, companion mine,
For what, without it, would I be here?
It lightens my troubles, like this good wine,
And, if I must weep, sheds tear for tear!
But books, old friends that are always new,
Of all good things that we know are best;
They never forsake us, as others do,
And never disturb our inward rest.
Here is truth in a world of lies,
And all that in man is great and wise!
Better than men and women, friend,
That are dust, though dear in our joy and pain,
Are the books their cunning hands have penned,
For they depart, but the books remain;
Through these they speak to us what was best
In the loving heart and the noble mind:
All their royal souls possessed
Belongs forever to all mankind!
When others fail him, the wise man looks
To the sure companionship of books.
R. H. Stoddard.