“We Have Been Friends Together” is a poem written by Caroline Norton, an English poet, in the early 19th century. Here you get a summary, word meanings and question answers as published in the Wind Chimes Book.
fount – the source
gushing – pouring out
sullen – angry and silent
gloom – express hopelessness
infancy – childhood
bid – tell
Summary: We Have Been Friends Together
The heart-touching poem “We Have Been Friends Together” explores the theme of friendship and bereavement. It recounts the narrator’s experiences with a friend throughout various stages of life, from childhood to adulthood. The two have shared many joys, from playing outside as children to experiencing the ups and downs of life together. However, something has come between them, potentially a misunderstanding or a hurtful word, that threatens to damage their long-standing friendship. This issue has caused a rift in their relationship, replacing their once-close bond with a painful silence. The narrator implores their friend not to let this divide remain, emphasizing the importance of maintaining their cherished companionship.
Solutions: We Have Been Friends Together
A. Answer these questions with reference to the context.
- For the fount of hope was gushing Warm and joyous in our breasts.
a. What is the poet describing in these lines?
b. What has ‘hope’ been compared to?
c. Who is/are the subject/s of the speaker’s lines?
- The voices which are silent there Would bid thee clear thy brow…
a. What ‘voices’ is the speaker referring to?
b. Why do you think they are silent?
c. What would their message be for the speaker’s friend?
- O’er the grass-grown graves, where slumber’d The hopes of early years.
a. What is the significance of the description ‘grass grown’ with regard to the graves?
b. Whose graves are being referred to here?
c. Explain where slumber’d/The hopes of early years.
- a. The poet is describing a period in which she and her friend were youthful and filled with optimism, happiness, and affection.
b. Hope has been compared to a fountain.
c. The poet and her friend are the subjects of the lines.
- a. The poet is referring to conversations and memories from their childhood.
b. The voices are silent now because there is now a wedge between the poet and the friend.
c. The message would be that the poet and the friend should forget about their conflicts and extend the hand of friendship to each other.
- a. ‘Grass-grown’ probably refers to the time that has passed since their childhoods. It has been so long that the grass has grown back.
b. These are the graves of the hopes they had when they were children.
c. The hopes they had as children were lost and so, metaphorically, they lie in their graves where they sleep.
B. Answer these questions.
- Explain the contrast presented in the first stanza.
- Do you think that the speaker is an insensitive friend? Support your answer with examples from the poem.
- What are the things that can actually cause the speaker and her/his friend to part?
- According to you, which years of the speaker’s life does this poem span? Give reasons.
- Do you think the speaker’s friend should make up and continue the friendship? Give reasons.
- What does it take to make a friendship last? List at least five ideas.
- This passage discusses the contrast between the first stanza, which highlights the strong bond between the poet and her friend, and the last few lines, which suggest a coldness in their relationship.
- The speaker in the poem appears to be empathetic and invested in repairing the friendship with her friend, as evidenced by her recollection of the good and bad times they have shared and her urging of her friend to resolve any misunderstandings.
- The primary causes of relationship breakdowns are hurt feelings and an unwillingness to forgive. Forgetting the value of one another and the positive experiences shared can also contribute to the deterioration of a relationship.
- The speaker in the poem is a young woman who has been friends with her companion since childhood.
- Despite the acknowledged coldness in their current relationship, the poet maintains a persistent desire for reconciliation and questions why they should remain apart. It seems clear that the poet believes that they should rekindle their friendship.
6. Making a friendship last is like taking care of a plant. You need to give it attention and care. Here are five ideas for making a friendship last:
- Communication: Just like talking to your family, it’s important to talk to your friends too. Share your feelings, thoughts, and things that happened in your day. Listen when they talk too. This helps you understand each other better.
- Trust: Trust is like a strong foundation for a building. Be honest and keep your promises. If you tell your friend something, they should be able to trust that you mean it.
- Kindness: Treat your friend with kindness and respect. Be supportive when they need you. If you have a disagreement, try to solve it calmly without hurting each other’s feelings.
- Spending Time Together: Like watering a plant, spending time with your friend helps your friendship grow. Do things you both enjoy, like playing games, reading, or exploring hobbies together.
- Understanding Differences: People are like different types of flowers. We all have different personalities and interests. It’s important to respect and understand these differences. You don’t have to be exactly the same to be good friends.
Remember, just like a plant, a friendship needs patience and care. It might face some ups and downs, but if you both work together, your friendship can last a long time!
The following ideas can make a friendship last:
- Talk: Communicate and listen.
- Trust: Be honest and keep promises.
- Be Kind: Treat them well, help each other.
- Spend Time: Do fun things together.
- Respect Differences: Understand each other.
Friendships need care and understanding.
A. Discuss and answer.
- What can you say about the structure of the stanzas in the poem?
A rhetorical question is a figure of speech wherein a question to which the reader already knows the answer, is asked for dramatic effect.
- Can you identify the rhetorical question/s in this poem? What purpose does it/they serve here?
- The poem consists of three stanzas, each comprising eight lines. In each stanza, the poet discusses two aspects of the relationship between the poet and the friend. The first part reflects on how their relationship used to be, while the second part describes the current state of their relationship. The concluding line of each stanza is a rhetorical question.
- Throughout the poem, the poet asks a repeated rhetorical question, “What can/shall part us now?” The poet aims to evoke memories of the strong bond shared between the two friends by recalling both good and bad times. Through this question, the poet seeks to persuade the friend to forget about their issues and to rekindle their friendship.