Friendship poems have been written by many Australian poets, particularly in the
nineteenth century. Women poets such as Caroline Leakey in her 'Friendship' and
Emily Barton in 'Reminiscence' write about the value and joy of friendship,
especially when looked back on from the present. Similar sentiments can be found in John Le Gay Brereton's 'A Song of Friendship'. It is not surprising to find Henry Lawson, whose work has been especially associated with that particularly Australian type of friendship known as mateship, writing many poems about friendship. In 'To An Old Mate' he celebrates a friendship of the past but in later poems such as 'The Cross-Roads' he apologies to those friends whom he feels he has let down through his life. Mateship, of course, has often been linked with a level of misogyny in Australian male culture, something that seems confirmed by Lawson's 'Say Goodbye When Your Chum is Married' which is based on the assumption that male friendships are not able to continue after the friends have married. A particularly unusual friendship poem is Lawson's 'The Ghost' in which the poet is confronted by an evil spirit who tells him that friendship has no place in a world based on the doctrine of 'Self and Pelf'. However, later in the poem a good spirit appears who preaches a counter-message of 'Brotherhood and Love and Honour' with which the poem concludes.
Contemporary friendship poems are more likely to be written about a particular friend rather than the more abstract value of friendship. So Peter Porter recalls the pleasures of his friendship with someone now dead, in 'Drinking Gavi with Gavin'. Evan Jones also celebrates a friendship in his 'Birthday Song', as does Julian Croft in 'Amica'. Travelling away from home often provokes thoughts of absent friends, as seen in several poems by Michael Brennan entitled 'Letters Home' as well as in Katherine Gallagher's 'Farewell Poem'.