by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Let us be friends. My life is sad and lonely,
While yours with love is beautiful and bright.
Be kind to me: I ask your friendship only.
No Star is robbed by lending darkness light.
I give you friendship as I understand it,
A sentiment I feel for all mankind.
Oh, give me more; may not one friend command it?
Look in the skies, ’tis there the star you’ll find;
It casts its beams on all with equal favour.
I would have more than what all men may claim.
Then your ideas of friendship strongly savour
Of sentiments which wear another name.
May not one friend receive more than another?
Not man from woman and still remain a friend.
Life holds but three for her, a father, brother,
Lover - against the rest she must contend.
Against the universe I would protect you,
With my life even, nor hold the price too dear.
But not against yourself, should fate select you
As Lancelot for foolish Guinevere.
You would not tempt me?
That is undisputed.
We put the question back upon the shelf.
My point remains unanswered, unrefuted
No man protects a woman from himself.
I am immune: for once I loved with passion,
And all the fires within me burned to dust.
I think of woman but in friendly fashion:
In me she finds a comrade safe to trust.
So said Mount Peelée to the listening ocean:
Behold what followed! Let the good be wise.
Though human hearts proclaim extinct emotion,
Beware how high the tides of friendship rise.