Surrounded by Friendship

If I have an anthem, this is it. If there is a poem/song I wish I had written, this is it. It even feels a little awkward to me that I didn’t write it, given how closely it expresses how I feel, but isn’t that one of the amazing things about art–finding yourself in someone else’s work?


Surrounded by Friendship written by Cynthia Hopkins

the trees are my friends
they offer up their limbs
to shade me from the sun
and whisper with the leaves on the wings of the breeze

and the breeze is my friend
it sings me a song
and carries along
the melody of the birds and the trees

and the birds are my friends
they chirp and they warble
they remind me to be cheerful
even when their wings are wet with the rain


The rest of it is on Dan Zane’s website where you can also hear him and Cynthia Hopkins sing it beautifully.


Here  it is performed by John Hodgman, yes, John Hodgman, and I even think he’s being sincere:


Do you have an anthem? Do you have a favorite poem you can’t believe you didn’t write?

For more Poetry Friday, visit Tabatha!

17 replies
  1. Martha
    Martha says:

    Elizabeth, a beautiful post and I can believe that you might have written today’s poem. Nothing immediately comes to mind for me, personally, but one of my favorite poems is “The House by the Side of the Road” by Sam Walter Foss. My grandmother could recite that poem, word for word, and I can honestly say that she could have written that. She was exactly that – lived in a house by the side of the road and always a friend to man.

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      Hi Martha,
      Thank you for sharing that little window into your grandmother. I look forward to finding the poem and reading it and thinking of you and her.

  2. Tabatha
    Tabatha says:

    Dan Zanes exudes such warmth when he is performing that he seems like a friend, too, doesn’t he? Thanks for sharing your anthem with us, Liz 🙂

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      Yes, exactly. He does exude a real warmth over a great distance. I also love Cynthia Hopkins’ voice. It seems so natural and authentic.

  3. hmmmmm
    hmmmmm says:

    I will probably still be listening to Dan Zanes when my children are in college…

    There is one Denise Levertov poem I return to again and again and again, that speaks to me. Not as upbeat as yours, alas: on some level I wish I’d written it and on another I wish I felt no conection to it whatsoever.

    It is called ZEROING IN and starts:

    “I am a landscape,” he said,
    “a landscape and a person walking in that landscape.
    There are daunting cliffs there,
    and plains glad in their way
    of brown monotony. But especially
    there are sinkholes, places
    of sudden terror, of small circumference
    and malevolent depths.”

    You can read the rest at:

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      Thanks for sharing your/Levertov’s poem. I feel like mine might be an anthem for one day and yours might be an anthem for another. One anthem is clearly not enough. I often listen to Dan Zanes by myself.

  4. Monica
    Monica says:

    What a wonderful anthem to have. Beautiful thoughts. I have two: Dreams by Langston Hughes, and Mother to Son, also by Hughes. For me, they’re full of hope, and I return to them often.

  5. Linda
    Linda says:

    Happy Friday, Liz! Thanks for sharing your anthem. Mine is “Dreams” by Langston Hughes. I’ve written many times about its importance in my life. It’s amazing how much meaning can be packed into 8 short lines. Also, I love Mary Oliver’s “The Summer Day.”

    • lsteinglass
      lsteinglass says:

      Hi Linda, Thanks for sharing. I will go look for Oliver’s poem. I consider Dreams one of my mentor texts.

  6. Linda Baie
    Linda Baie says:

    This is lovely, Liz, I don’t know it & am happy to be introduced to it, and the singing too. My poem has to be by Karla Kuskin, whose poems I adore. I keep returning to this one, have used it for the end of school when I always gave my students a ‘goodbye’ poem, and keep it close for my own heart to hold close. Thank you for asking, what a nice thing!

    Thoughts That Were Put Into Words
    by Karla Kuskin

    Thoughts that were put into words
    Have been said.
    The words were then spoken
    And written
    And read.
    Take a look and go on
    We are practically done.

    The leftover afternoon light
    Slips away
    On the wind like a sigh.
    Watch the day curtains close.
    Hear the wind going grey
    At the edge of the edge
    You and I
    Turn the page
    Read its message
    “The End.”

    Does the end mean good-bye?

  7. Robyn Hood Black
    Robyn Hood Black says:

    Love your thoughts and this poem, Liz. (What a line: “even when their wings are wet with the rain”) –
    I don’t know that I could pick a favorite poem, though this post reminds me a little of the mantra which accompanied me in my 20s and which I do still love from Wordsworth – “To me the meanest flower that blows can give/Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears” from his Intimations Ode. I think I now find this sentiment expressed, more succinctly (!) and as beautifully, in haiku.

  8. Bridget Magee
    Bridget Magee says:

    I love that you’ve found your poetry anthem. It suits you perfectly. Mine still eludes me, but I have a feeling it will be humorous bordering on crass. Thanks for sharing, Liz! = )


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