Friends Poem by Abbie Farwell Brown Summary, Notes and Line by Line Explanation in English


“Friends” is a poem by Abbie Farwell Brown that was written in the early 20th century. It was first published in “A Pocketful of Posies”, a collection of children’s poetry published in 1902. The poem addresses the loneliness that children might face and works as a motivation to let them know that their greatest friend is nature. There is an optimistic tone throughout the poem.  

About the Poet 

Abbie Farwell Brown is an American writer and poet who mostly wrote poems on religion and animals to inspire the young generation. She began writing in 1896. 


“Friends” by Brown consists of four quatrains with internal rhymings. The poem is written in the first person point of view and later switches to third person in the last stanza. The poem is composed in iambic tetrameter. 

Summary and Analysis 

Stanza One 

How good to lie a little while

   And look up through the tree!

The Sky is like a kind big smile

   Bent sweetly over me.


The speaker is laying on the grass on the ground and looking up at the big sky through the tree. The sky is smiling back upon the speaker and is bent over her in a sweet manner. The sky is therefore her friend. 


The poem begins as the speaker is lying down on the ground. She looks up towards the big bright sky and appreciates how joyous it is to lie down and look up into the sky. The relaxation is reflected by the first line of the poem, where the speaker in a way exclaims on how good it is. 

These lines reveal that the speaker loves to be with nature. She enjoys looking at the sky through the tree. The tree that stands firmly on the ground and raises high towards the sky. To see the sky through the tree is very interesting for the speaker. 

The speaker mentions the sky as a friend, a companion who is just as happy to see her. The sky has a big smile. It is happy and it reflects happiness upon the speaker. WIth this big smile, it is bent over to her sweetly. 

The speaker in this stanza suggests that there is happiness to be found everywhere around us and especially in the company of nature. And thus,the sky and nature itself is the speaker’s friend. 

Stanza Two 

The Sunshine flickers through the lace

   Of leaves above my head,

And kisses me upon the face

   Like Mother, before bed.


The speaker looks up through the asymmetrical pattern of leaves that makes a design like some lace, and through this lace flickers sunshine that rests right upon her face. It is warm and comforting as it kisses her face like a mother’s kiss before going to bed. 


In the second stanza, the speaker describes how the sunshine makes its way through the leaves. These leaves when seen from the button look like asymmetrical patterns that are similar to laces. Therefore the speaker describes the pattern as lace of leaves above her head from which the sun rays flicker right over her face. 

These rays brush her face so tenderly as if it’s kissing her. The kisses by these rays are so warm and comforting that it reminds the speaker of her mother. Here, mother is written with a capital “M” emphasising the importance of the word, like a mother kisses before bed, the sunshine kisses her face in a similar manner. 

It can be also interpreted that not only the sky and the sunshine are her best friends, her mother too is her greatest friend. 

Stanza Three 

The Wind comes stealing o'er the grass

   To whisper pretty things,

And though I cannot see him pass,

   I feel his careful wings.


The speaker mentions how the wind steals the kisses and passes over the grass to whisper sweet things into her ear. Although she cannot see the mischievous wind, she can feel it as the wind is careful enough to not hurt the speaker with its wings.


In the next stanza, the speaker describes the wind. The wind that comes stealing the kisses over the grass. It comes to whisper pretty things . The sound of the wind is referred to as whispering. Here, the poet uses Onomatopoeia to describe the sound of the wind as “whisper”.  

The wind blows over the grass and whispers pretty things into the speaker’s ears. The speaker cannot see the wind, as it is invisible but she can feel it. As the wind blows, she can feel its careful wings. Here , “careful wings” is used by the poet to compare the wind to a bird. According to the poet, the wind is careful and considerate to not hurt the speaker with its wings. 

Therefore, the wind is another friend of the speaker that is also part of nature. 

Stanza Four

So many gentle Friends are near

   Whom one can scarcely see,

A child should never feel a fear,

   Wherever he may be.


The speaker concludes that all of those things that she mentioned before are some of the many friends that are always near her. Some of whom she cannot even see but she is aware of their existence. Similarly, a child shall never feel lonely, and he he does, he shall remember all these elements of nature that are his friends. 


The last stanza of the poem reveals the actual theme of the poem that the poet wants to convey. The speaker here assures the readers that there are so many friends similar to the ones that she mentioned in the earlier stanzas. 

Nature is our greatest friend and it carries many other friends, some that we can see like the big sky, trees, insects, animals, etc. and some that we cannot see like the wind. But despite their appearance, their existence is inevitable. 

The poem is mainly written for children. The poet wants every child to believe that he has great friends and it is nature that is their friend. No child shall carry a fear of not having a friend, or a fear of being lonely. And whenever any child feels this way, they shall come back to this poem and remember that they are always surrounded by numerous friends. They should just learn to acknowledge it.