Of all the poetry that we read by Katherine Philips, the poem that stuck out to me the most was “To My Excellent Lucasia, On Our Friendship”. I found it so touching that Orinda (or Katherine Philips) would write a poem to her friend, simply to let her know that she appreciated her friendship. By modern standards, it is a small gesture of friendship (although a poem is no easy thing to write), but it is more meaningful than any gift you would buy someone today. Another reason this poem is special is that it does not appear that Katherine Philips wrote it for a special occasion. It seems that she wrote it just because, to celebrate their friendship.
I have a few best friends, but I don’t feel confident that I would write them a poem celebrating our friendship just because the spirit of friendship moved me. For me, this poem is more of a comparison to my relationship with my sister. When Orinda says “I am not thine, but thee” (l.4), it is a perfect illustration of our relationship. We’re even more than sisters; we’re basically the same person. We look the same; our voices sound the same on the phone, and we laugh at the same jokes. It’s not enough to say that we’re sisters, or that Lucasia and Orinda are friends. By their friendship, Lucasia and Orinda are one person, bound together by similarities, common interests, and shared past experiences.
Another line that I found to be key in the poem was “This carcass breathed, and walked, and slept” (l.5). The entire poem revolves around the idea that Orinda was not a complete person until she became friends with Lucasia. Until she had someone she could share her daily occurrences with, both the major events of her life and the minor moments, she was only a physical being. Now that she is a part of this friendship, she is also a spiritual being. In the case of my sister and I, I was literally not a complete person until she began taking care of me. She is eight years older than me, so she was responsible for feeding me, dressing me, and babysitting me. She was the one making sure I listened to the right music, and wore the right clothes. Without her influence, I would not be the person I am today.
A true friend, then, according to Orinda is one “which now inspires, cures and supplies/And guides my darkened breast” (l.13-14). Friendship is to a large degree is about support. Each individual needs a support system, whether it consists of family or friends. That support system gets you through difficult times, it is with you during good times to share your life, or occasionally, to giggle about it. For me, this line ideally describes how my sister is my inspiration. She has achieved so much; she gives me life advice, career advice, advice on how to deal with my parents, etc. Without the little tips she gives me, my life would be fundamentally different.
Orinda tells Lucasia, “I’ve all the world in thee.” (l.20). Their friendship is her world. She does not mean this in a creepy obsessive way, but in a way where their friendship is her base. Lucasia is who she writes letters to when something entertaining occurs in her life. Similarly, my sister is the one I text on the way to class with news of my day. The type of friendship Katherine Philips is describing is one in which you could not imagine life without this person. The goal of the poem, then, as I see it is to express to someone how necessary he or she is to your life and happiness. It is a nice thing to express, especially because in such a relationship this feeling often goes without saying.