It may have been the pride in me for aught
I know, or just a patronizing whim;
But call it freak of fancy, or what not,
I cannot hide the hungry face of him.
I keep a scant half-dozen words he said,
And every now and then I lose his name;
He may be living or he may be dead,
But I must have him with me all the same.
I knew it and I knew it all along,–
And felt it once or twice, or thought I did;
But only as a glad man feels a song
That sounds around a stranger’s coffin lid.
I knew it, and he knew it, I believe,
But silence held us alien to the end;
And I have now no magic to retrieve
That year, to stop that hunger for a friend.