Easy Friends, by Theognis of Megara

Easy Friends

Never engage with a poltroon or craven--
Avoid him, Kurnus, as a treach'rous haven!
These friends and hearty comrades, as you think,
(Ready to join you, when you feast and drink),
These easy friends from difficulty shrink.   For a shrewd intellect, the best employ
Is to detect a soul of base alloy;
No task is harder nor imports so much;
Silver or gold, you prove it by the touch;
You separate the pure, discard the dross,
And disregard the labour and the loss:
But a friend's heart, base and adulterate--
A friendly surface with a core of hate!
Of all the frauds with which the Fates have cursed
Our simple easy nature--is the worst:
Beyond the rest ruinous in effect;
And of all others hardest to detect:
For men's and women's hearts you cannot try
Beforehand, like the cattle that you buy.
Nor human wit nor reason, when you treat
For such a purpose, can escape deceit:
Fancy betrays us, and assists the cheat.

poems.one - Theognis of Megara

Theognis of Megara