Paramahansa Yogananda's "Friendship"

Updated on October 5, 2017
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After I fell in love with Walter de la Mare's "Silver" in Mrs. Edna Pickett's sophomore English class, circa 1962, poetry became my passion.

Paramahansa Yogananda



The speaker in Paramahansa Yogananda's poem, "Friendship," explores and dramatizes the unique bond that exists between friends and reveals its rôle in serving soul progress.

Paramahansa Yogananda's poem "Friendship" from Songs of the Soul features nine movements of varying lengths.

First Movement: "Is friendship the weaving of the red strings of two hearts?"

The speaker begins by posing five rhetorical questions in the opening movement—each question heralds an answer in the affirmative. Thus he is, in fact, stating that friendship is the "weaving of the red strings of two hearts." Friendship is also a "melding of two minds." The love between two friends pours forth like water from fountains, and that friendship resembles a rose growing between two "mind-branchlets." Best of all, the speaker avers that friendships is "the one thinking in two bodies." And that one, of course, is the Divine.

Second Movement: "Or is friendship like two strong stallions"

Continuing with the rhetorical questions that dramatically state a definition of friendship, the speaker contends that friendship resembles two strong stallions, "Pulling the chariot of life together / To that one Goal." The speaker uses the entire stanza to dramatize the chariot metaphor.

Third Movement: "Is friendship founded on equalities or inequalities?"

The speaker then offers some unpleasant possibilities regarding the nature of friendship, ones that deluded humankind often engages instead of the noble ones. Sometimes so-called friendship exists between two people wherein one merely takes advantage of the other. Other times, people not of good will unite and blindly follow a warped ideology and both end up "falling at last into pits of disillusionment."

Fourth Movement: "Friendship is noble, fruitful, holy"

The speaker now offers his descriptions of what friendship really is—it "is noble, fruitful, holy." And although the two "march in difference," they yet do so "in harmony." They are able to agree and disagree, while "improving diversely."

Fifth Movement: "When ne'er the lover seeks"

In true friendship, one does not seek his comfort at the cost of the other. Each looks out for the other, and "in that garden of selflessness, / Fragrant friendship perfectly flowers." Continuing the garden metaphor, the speaker asserts, "[f]or friendship is a hybrid, born of two souls."

Sixth Movement: "Friendship is born from the very core"

Continuing his positive assertions, the speaker avers that friendship comes from a place that is hidden and inexplicable, but it is also the fountain of true feelings. And just as gardens need both rain and sunshine to thrive, friendships grow in both likeness and difference.

However, familiarity and lust kill friendship, as does crass egotism, while friendship will shoot up "tall and sturdy" as the friends learn to recognize their unity on the three levels of being: physical, mental, and spiritual.

Seventh Movement: "Demands, deceptions, sordid sense of possession"

The speaker then catalogues the qualities that are anathema to friendship: "[d]emands, deception, sordid sense of possession / Courtesy's lack, narrow self-love, suspicion / Thoughtless, sharp-pointed, piercing words." All of these things are "cankers" that destroy friendship.

Eight Movement: "Ah, friendship—flowering, heaven-born plant!"

The speaker then returns to the pleasant aspects of friendship and again likens it to a "flowering, heaven-born plant!" The growth of a friendship takes place at the soul level "in the soil of measureless love." When the two friends are seeking their own "soul progress," they can make even faster progress together. Each friend will water and nurture the growth of the other.

The Beginning of Paramahansa Yogananda's Mission

© 2016 Linda Sue Grimes


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