2021 DSE English Writing Question 8 (Sample)

8. Learning English through Poems and Songs

You read this poem in class and your teacher has asked you to write an essay on the theme of friendship.

New Friends and Old Friends

Make new friends, but keep the old.

One is silver, the other is gold.

Friendships that have stood the test—

Time and change – are surely best.

Cherish friendship in your breast –-

New is good but old is best.

Joseph Parry

(1841 – 1903)

Use these questions to help you write your essay:

  • What is the difference between old and new friendships?
  • Do you agree that older friendships are better than new ones?

Sincere and true friendship is what matters

Everyone is born alone to the world but no one is an island. We need friends as much as we need family to live a good life. Therefore, friendship is precious indeed. As we grow up, we come across and make friends with others under different circumstances. Along the way, we will have some old friends and some new friends as well. But how do you weigh between old friendship and new friendship? As Joseph Parry’s poem on friendship conveys, though new friends can be great, old friends are much more worthwhile. However, I think that new friends can be just as good as old friends as long as the friendship is mutually sincere and true.

Generally speaking, old friendship refers to those friends we have known for a long time while new friendship those people with whom we have befriended and got along for just a short period of time. When we talk about old friends, we will immediately think of those friends we know when we are young like childhood friends and school friends. It is generally believed that old friendship is much more valuable than new friendship because of several reasons. 

Old friends are golden. From childhood to adolescence, we are more or less young, pure and innocent. It is the most carefree time when we can be true to ourselves as well as to others without pretense or disguise. We would share our interests and hobbies with each other and talk about the same conversation topics to better understand others. We are curious and eager to know if there is anyone on this planet who thinks and feels the same with us. Those think and feel alike stick together and become good friends.  As we are getting closer, we would even confide our secrets and expose our little inner world to each other. Thus, we get to know the true character and personality of the old friends with whom we are growing up. And we will always have sweet memories to look back on and share with our old friends when we have grown up.  This is what makes old friendship dear.

Moreover, old friendship that has stood the test of time and change is priceless. Like any relationship, true friendship never runs smooth. Sometimes, it gets quite complicated. For example, when I was one of the student union members in secondary school, I had a heated argument over some of the principles and implementations with my best friend. She got very upset with me because she thought that I was trying to deny her wholehearted efforts. I also got very angry with her. Since then, our friendship suddenly turned very worse and we went our separate ways. Several months later, I thought that it was very stupid of me to lose a dear old friend because of some unreachable ideals. I apologised to her and tried to mend and rekindle our friendship. She forgave me and we made up. As a result, we reconciled our differences and became even closer than before.

However, not every old friendship can last. Sometimes, old friends can become strangers. For example, when I was in primary school, I had another best friend. We thought and felt alike and treated each other like sisters. However, time changes, people and things change. After we graduated from the primary school, we went to different secondary schools and embarked on different paths which tore us apart. Our minds gradually changed. We could no longer talk with open heart like before. We are now like simple acquaintance. It is nobody’s fault. But, sometimes, things can turn out like this even we were once best friends. 

On the contrary, new friends can be as wonderful as old friends. As we grow older, we get smarter and more experienced in finding out whether the new friends with whom we get along is sincere or not. For instance, in the first month I attended my classes in the secondary school, I immediately had a sense of who would be great to make friends with. Indeed, I have made a few new friends whom are now my dear old friends. We think and feel alike and can talk about anything. Even though we may have different opinions towards different subjects, we stay true to each other and treat one another respectfully. What’s more, regardless of the short period of time we have known each other, they stand by me and help me through in bad times; they share my excitement and happiness in good times. As the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed. New friendship can become lasting old friendship. It all depends on whether both parties are sincere and willing to communicate and relate to each other. 

In short, it is not that whether old or new friends are better but that what matters is sincere and true friendship. 

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