The poet pictures his moments of serious reflection as a court session in which his memories are summoned to appear. As they come forward, he grieves for all that he has lost, but he then thinks of his beloved friend and the grief changes to joy.
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, 4And 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 canceled woe, 8And moan th’ 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-bemoanèd moan, 12Which 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.