I loved this one Archibald MacLeish poem in high school, “Speech to Those Who Say Comrade.” It’s from 1936, when MacLeish was writing about the depression and war and communism and just beginning to look harder at modernism and there’s a lot more to say about him but not here and not by me…

I’ll grossly oversimplify the poem’s main point by saying that shared experiences are what bind us and make us family, while “the solitary and unshared experience / dies of itself.” MacLeish says a lot about the specific kind of experiences he means, and there’s a lovely line about “Brotherhood only the brave earn and by danger or / Harm or by bearing hurt.”

I was thinking a bit today about those who know me best, those who would bear my hurt or harm or danger and not think twice about it. Having those people is a rare and lovely thing, and the poem’s last stanza captures how it feels to have such friends:

Brotherhood here in the strange world is the rich and

Rarest giving of life and the most valued,

Not to be had for a word or a week’s wishing.

I’m feeling blessed tonight, blessed with most valued and rich friendships that are giving me life right now. Thank you, comrades. I hope you know who you are.