Poetry Corner: To me, fair friend, you never can be old

James Boswell

James Boswell by JW Cook

On this day in 1740 James Boswell, the biographer, diarist and travel writer was born in Edinburgh. James Boswell’s name is rarely heard separately from that of Dr Samuel Johnson whose biography he wrote. The two writers travelled through the west of Scotland in a journey famously recorded by Boswell in his published journals “A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland” and “The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides”. It was only in the mid-twentieth century, when many of his writings were re-discovered and published in full, that the extent of Boswell’s talent came to be appreciated. As a perceptive and witty recorder of the social life of the later part of the eighteenth century, he had few rivals. Scot Clans

You can find out more at The Boswell Trust

We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over; so in a series of kindnesses there is at last one which makes the heart run over.

(Life of Johnson [1791], 19 Sept. 1777)


To me, fair friend, you never can be old (Sonnet 104)

To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still. Three winters cold,
Have from the forests shook three summers’ pride,
Three beauteous springs to yellow autumn turn’d,
In process of the seasons have I seen,
Three April perfumes in three hot Junes burn’d,
Since first I saw you fresh, which yet are green.
Ah! yet doth beauty like a dial-hand,
Steal from his figure, and no pace perceiv’d;
So your sweet hue, which methinks still doth stand,
Hath motion, and mine eye may be deceiv’d:
For fear of which, hear this thou age unbred:
Ere you were born was beauty’s summer dead.

William Shakespeare

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