Can't or Won't?











{05/06/2009}   What is a friend?
“What is a friend? I will tell you. It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with him. He seems to ask of you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. He does not want you to be better or worse. When you are with him, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think, so long as it is genuinely you. He understands those contradictions in your nature that leads others to misjudge you. With him you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities ad envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meaness and absurdities and, in opening up to him, they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of his loyalty. He understands. You do not have to be careful. You can abuse him, neglect him, tolerate him. Best of all, you can keep still with him. It makes no matter. He likes you. He is like fire that purges to the bone. He understands. You can weep with him, sin with him, laugh with him, pray with him. Through it all — and underneath– he sees, knows and loves you. A friend? What is a friend? Just one, I repeat, with whom you dare to be yourself.”
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Kristina says:

I wrote this poem in 1978 about my best friend. I was 13 at the time and submitted it to be published in a county-wide anthology of school district writing. It was never published. I assumed it was because a junior high student used the word "naked". They did however publish three of my other works.My name is Kristina Bruce and I\’d love to know who this bastard C. Raymond Beran is and how he got my poem to plagerize all those years ago. Now I find it\’s been quoted and used so many places it makes me extremely angry.



bernice woods says:

You will not believe this. However, I was visiting my sister in Nanticoke, Pa, quite a few years ago. I went for a walk and found the poem, “what is a friend,” signed by C. Raymond Beran. I will send it to you if you like. Since you said you are the original writer, I think you will find it quite interesting that his poem on the internet refers to a male friend. However, the poem that I found refers to a female friend. Thus, I believe this validates your claim that the original poem was written by you for a female’s best friend. I came across it recently, only because I have been reading through some of my old papers and the like. Anyhow,if he is indeed a fraud, this may help you find some peace.



Kristina Bruce says:

Hello Bernice,

I am still continuing my search to find the real identity of C. Raymond Beran. My brother who still lives in my hometown and has an acquaintance at the Board of Education who actually worked there at the time of the poetry submission did try to do some leg work but came up empty handed as to who might actually have been the culprit. Curiously a search of the internet reveals no other published works under this name. It seems that whomever it was who took this work and put a name to it not only used a pseudonym but also was never able to find anything else worthy of publishing.

I will continue to try to get to the bottom of this matter. Any information you might have would be greatly appreciated to be honest.

The funny thing about your comment is that my best friend actually is male. I have been friends with him now for 42 years since we were the age of 3. We were basically in diapers together for all practical purposes. I am right now staying at his house before I return to where I have been living now for the past year and a half in the country of Northern Cyprus.

Please send any correspondence to Kristina Bruce @ theraveninexile@gmail.com . I may have used my old email address whenever I posted this message almost 2 years ago. It is nothing but a spam bin and I keep this address for actual human communication.

Thank you so much for your reply.

Kristie



David says:

Here are a couple of sources for you.

C. Raymond Beran, in Bits & Pieces, September 19, 1991, p. 3-4
http://www.sermons.org/illustrations/f/friendship.htm

In Spanish, claimed by P. Jose Luis Ullan Martin
http://www.sepapbcn.org/archivos/02AMIGOS.pdf



Kristina Bruce says:

It seems this has become a popular poem to claim as one’s own. I personally cannot understand why anyone would choose to plagiarize another’s work. It must be the product of a seriously lacking ego.



kerensa says:

Kristina….. I’m glad I found this while actually searching for Beran. My best friend sent your poem on email to me and said even though it says ‘he’ it made him think of me (needless to say I’m over the moon). It’s a beautiful poem and I hope you find out who’s plagiarised your work. X



Kristina K. Bruce says:

There is no information available from the publish of Bits & Pieces. The publication was purchased and now out of business. Here’s is what information I received from the company.

On Tue, Sep 13, 2011 at 4:55 PM, Apryl King wrote:
Hi Kristina,

I’m sorry to hear about your dilemma. Unfortunately, I don’t have any information on the identity of C. Raymond Beran. What I can tell you is that from 1968 until 2001 Bits & Pieces was published by the Economics Press. Ragan Communications purchased Bits & Pieces from the Economics Press in 2001 before they closed, but we do not have any notes or information on sources that were used by the Economics Press for that publication. I have attached a copy of the text that was published in the September 19, 1991 issue. I’m not sure how much it will help. Good luck with your search.

Sincerely,

Apryl King
Ragan Communications

She was also nice enough include a pdf of the original publication that states, “Reader John Phillips has sent us a copy of a lovely thought he discovered on the wall of his doctor’s office called What Is A Friend? and is attributed to C. Raymond Beran. (We have been unable to find out who Mr. Beran is (but if anyone can shed some light on this matter we’d be happy to hear from you). We revised the text to make it all -inclusive because friendship knows no gender but outside of that change is what Mr. Beran wrote.”

Apparently whatever wall hanging Mr. Phillips saw in his physician’s office was a completely watered down version of the poem. I’ll call it the politically correct version of what I wrote. Either that of Bits & Pieces completely tore it down themselves to this, which is what was actually published in the magazine.

This is the Bits & Pieces version ala 1991

Friends are people with whom you dare to be yourself. Your soul can be naked with them. They ask you to put on nothing, only to be what you are. They do not want you to be better or worse. When you are with them you feel as though a prisoner who has been declared innocent. You do not have to be on your guard. You can say what you think as long as it is genuinely you. Friends understand the contradictions in your nature that cause others to misjudge you. With them you breathe freely. You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks, your meanness and absurdities, and in opening up them to friends they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of their loyalty.

This is the 1978 version which you will see is very different.

What is a friend?
I will tell you.
It is a person with whom you dare to be yourself.
Your soul can be naked with them.
They seem to ask of you to put on nothing, only to be what and who you really are.
They do not want you to be better or worse.
When you are with them, you feel as a prisoner feels who has been declared innocent.
You do not have to be on your guard.
You can say what you think, so long as it is genuinely you.
They understand those contradictions in your nature that lead others to misjudge you.
With them you breathe freely.
You can avow your little vanities and envies and hates and vicious sparks,
your petty meanesses and absurdities and,
in opening them up to them,
they are lost, dissolved on the white ocean of his loyalty.
They understand.
You do not have to be careful.
You can abuse them, neglect them, and tolerate them.
Best of all, you can keep still with them. It makes no matter.
They like you.
They are like the fire that purges to the bone.
They understand, they understand.
You can weep with them, sin with them, laugh with them, pray with them.
Through and underneath it all they see, know, and love you.
A friend? What is a friend?
Just one thing, someone with whom you can be yourself!

So C. Raymond Beran is a mystery even to those who published what was found on a wall plaque in some doctor’s office and I have to say this, most likely in my home state of West Virginia. I can just seem someone with a crumpled up wad of paper taken from the board of education building to some shed where some guy affixed my words to a sanded down board and poured epoxy over it to sell in some craft store. That is probably the real story behind the whole thing. My guess is that Bits and Pieces edited the poem because so many versions on the net have been so close to the original that there must be other versions out there or whomever took it is or has been putting it out there on the net here or there. We’ll probably never know.



Christine says:

Your surmise is quite likely correct ….. so look at it this way…. Even though your poem was not appreciated enough by the Board of Education, someone, somewhere, liked it enough to print it and distribute it commercially. Till you find that elusive C. Raymond Beran and can sue the daylights out of him/her, just be happy that your poem is finding so much appreciation on the net. And to think it was written by a 13 year old …. hey girl you were way beyond your years in emotional quotient!



Larry says:

If your wrote this in 1978, how was I able to copy it from a magazine in 1974?….I was working for the us government in 1974 when i found the What is a friend?….I still have the original copy where I typed it on an old electric typewriter and with many many spots of whiteout to correct my typing…so, someone must be in error on who was the first to write it or their dates….



alex says:

Christine, I am quite surprised by this and it has been my favorite ( a friend sent me (referred) this poem back in ’89) so you are the original author?



My contention is yes. Larry says otherwise. I’ve also had a few other people tell me they too have copied the poem down from various sources at dates far prior to when I wrote it. I suppose that there is a very remote possibility that the same piece of work was produced by two different people at two different points in space and time. Similar things have been documented in the past as occurring that way. Who is to say? The memories of humans are not always completely accurate. All I know is that I did produce a piece of work with these words when I was young and there are a number of people still living who also remember me doing it. So I am fairly convinced that I’m not insane. I can still remember sitting at my desk and that it was an unseasonably warm night when I was writing and sitting there with my mom’s paper back thesaurus looking up bigger and better words to say what I meant. That is my memory. I do not know what to say about the claims of others. It’s up to each individual to be the judge.



Marla says:

My mother, living in Los Angeles, hand lettered this poem as a gift to a friend. She eventually married him and I am the second of their two daughters. The framed poem hung in our home for many years. Mother told us she herself had composed “What Is a Friend? I will Tell You ….” and, artist that she was, illuminated the border and framed it. The date hand written on the back is 1926, when she was 20 years old.



[…] 1: Some who have claimed authorship include Kristina Bruce in the 70s and C. Raymond Beran in the 90s. Their claims are tenuous. Frank Crane seems to be most […]



[…] I like this very much. However, its authorship is disputed. […]



María says:

Larry is wright..I find out the poem in 1975…., so if you wrote it in 1978, How it could be possible?.



Mary Urban says:

I vote for Marla’s version of authorship, since my boyfriend copied and sent it to me in 1952, without the name of an author.



mejnc says:

I received my copy from a friend. It is a commercially produced plague. My best recollection is she gave it to me around 1971 or 1972. The author’s name is listed as “C. Raymond Beran.” Interesting to see that someone’s mom reportedly wrote it in the 20s.



Mechtilde says:

very interesting all this – I’m German and bought this poem printed on a poster in a shop in London in 1979 / 1980. The author’s name given is “C. Raymond Beran” . And as publishers / copyright: Continental Publications 1974. Edition Athena International. Printed in England 95/8402 – I came to search on the Internet to get to know whether “C.. Raymond Beran” or “Frank Cane” was the author of this poem that has be accompanying my life since I was 17. And here I found out that it might well be someone completely different…. But no matter who the author is, it’s good that it has been written and obviously it found and still finds much appreciation …



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