“Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel,” the bumbling Lord Polonius in Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet” tells his son Laertes in a rant of advice often repeated since as sage and sound. But who wants to be grappled with a metal belt? Neither is friendship a luxury cruise liner where one might go shopping for a friend. A rowboat, maybe, lost on some stormy night on some stormy sea in some stormy argument, a crew of two with only one oar. A lack of friends may be associated with loneliness, and one is often never so lonely as when part of a crowd in which one can find no partner. Acquaintances and neighbors are often confused with friends when they are not. Likewise, parents, children, and siblings, when impressed as friends are often the first to jump ship. A friend at court can hardly be trusted, neither is one’s cohort a circle of friends. A friend in need is not free. To simply like is not necessarily to befriend. What is the focus point of a circle of friends? One’s spouse must not be mistaken for one’s friend, nor one’s friend mistaken for one’s spouse. Friendship is not a vessel, unless it is a ship of fools.
Polonius: What friends thou hast, add them fast, Lord Hamlet.
Hamlet: Polonius advises us to link our souls with hoopla,
When twice this same moon updates us,
But still to me she hath not chatted.
Polonius: Light lord, thy status in disconnect must be,
Causing you this dark and dour distress.
Hamlet: Fish not, sir; I fear she hath deleted me.
What post supports this knotted matter?
False light quickly fades, casting us in dark shadows.
Let the clouds betide, let the rains come
So thick and dark not the bark of the ark stays dry.
Polonius: Despair not, care not, Lord, care less than not.
Some new compeer will soon light your night
With comely links and notes bright.
Light be your aim, Lord, light your audience,
And this will give light to thee.
Hamlet: Nay, sir. In this book of faces there is but one for me,
And I am trapped in this light box like a wench in a nunnery.