William Shakespeare d. April 23, 1616
We use the word friend in a narrow way, normally to refer to a peer of the same age, often of the same gender. For Shakespeare no word was narrowly defined; that’s what made him Shakespeare. A friend was the soul’s companion, with no restrictions on who counted as such.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time’s waste;
Then can I drown an eye unused to flow
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanished sight;
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.