H O W A R D   U N I V E R S I T Y

Faces & Voices 5
An Anthology
of Verse and Prose

the Composition
for Honours Class,
Howard University,

E. R. B

Faces & Voices 4


“To My Dearest Friends”
A translation of a passage from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”
Dialogue between Lord Polonius and his son Laertes – Act 1, Scene 3

By Avion A. Gray 

My dearest friends,
Please read with an open mind and an open heart:
Your thoughts are your own to be nurtured, so I urge you to convey them with utter discretion and tact. Translate into action only those thoughts that are truly sincere and just, for many a time, one’s thoughts may be misconstrued through one’s actions and one’s actions adversely affected by unclear and incoherent thought. Clothe yourself in humility and allow congeniality to be your guide; nonetheless, hold fast to your scruples and beliefs, for they will serve to refine you.
At some point along the solitary journey of life, you will experience the wonder of true friendship. A blessing that is defined by those who grow with you like blossoms in the spring; support you with a foundation of unconditional love and complement you like the stars do the black night sky. In the rare instance that these people do cross your path, cherish their presence with your whole self and do not ever hesitate to be to them what they are to you. You will also come to realize that, in life, things are often not what they seem to be, as deceit and hypocrisy have regrettably become an integral part of the world in which we live. Be wary of the whim and caprice of others, and do not commit your time, nor subject your heart to the transience of spurious ‘friendships’.
Steer away from belligerent tendencies and meaningless squabbles; nevertheless, when they are inevitable, be sure that you are cogent in your argument and that your opinion is conveyed with astounding clarity and eloquence. Not haphazardly, but with good and logical intent, did our creator equip us with the luxury of two ears as opposed to only one mouth. Listen attentively and enthusiastically to others, and learn to accept their admonition with commendable stride; likewise, be not the giver of unwarranted judgement, but retain your verdict until the time is right and your subject is undeniably culpable.
Do not ever attempt to live beyond your means, or be taken up with an ostentatious lifestyle. Avoid trading subtle richness and impeccable fine taste for showiness and eccentricity. Refrain from practicing frequent lending, for your good intentions – more often then not – can have a debilitating effect on your debtor’s own solvency and ability to be economical. Many a times in life, the unfortunate outcome of your actions will belie your good intent…a painful reality with which we all must live. Often, the mere act of lending could encumber you with the burden of choice between the value of a friendship and the value of that which was loaned.
Above all – and without condition – love yourself, respect yourself and be wholeheartedly truthful to yourself; for as long as the radiant sun continues to shine, the truth shall set you free and you will be incapable of falsity to any creature under the sky.
With sincere best wishes and deep regard, I pass on to you these words of wisdom, which I hope will be etched in your memories and materialized in your lives for as long as time permits. May God bless and keep you always.
                                                                                                                          Your true friend,
                                                                                                                             Avion A. Gray

© 2001 Avion A. Gray 

© 2001 Howard University.
(First Published in limited print edition, An Anthology of Verse and Prose, by the Composition for Honours Class, Howard University, Spring 2001. Professor E.R. Braithwaite)
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