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Absence

  • Absence becomes the greatest Presence.

    • May Sarton,
    • "Difficult Scene," The Lion and the Rose ()
  • And when the long hours of our parting are past and we meet with champagne and a chicken at last ...

  • Assuredly, meeting after absence, is one of — ah, no! — it is life's most delicious feeling.

  • Absence in love is like water upon fire; a little quickens, but much extinguishes it.

    • Hannah More,
    • in Maturin Murray Ballou, ed., Notable Thoughts About Women ()
  • I rarely think about my childhood. It's a slippery thing I can't keep hold of for long — it slithers out of my grasp. And a lot of the time I remember what was missing instead of what was there. I am a chronicler of absence.

  • Nights I turn to you to hold me / but you are not there.

    • Louise Glück,
    • "Gretel in Darkness," The House on Marshland ()
  • ... in order to thoroughly enjoy anything, one must feel the absence of it at times ...

    • Laura Ingalls Wilder,
    • 1916, in Stephen W. Hines, ed., Little House in the Ozarks: A Laura Ingalls Wilder Sampler, The Rediscovered Writings ()
  • Such friends as have been absent long / more joyful be at meeting / Than those which ever present are / and daily have their greeting.

    • Isabella Whitney,
    • "The 1. Flower," A Sweet Nosegay, or Pleasant Posye: Containing a Hundred and Ten Phylosophicall Flowers ()
  • ... what a pity it is, that the fashion of being in two places at once is not yet introduced! you would be very serviceable here to your family.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1688, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 7 ()
  • Absence was a heady spice.

  • when you're away i feel like / i'm only wearing one shoe.

    • Alta,
    • i am not a practicing angel
    • ()
  • It is always winter when I am away from you ...

  • How long time is when one is sad! Is it three years or three days since you went away ... ?

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1831), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • Distance only separates bodies, and that, alas! is quite enough.

    • Eugénie de Guérin,
    • letter (1839), in Guillaume S. Trébutien, ed., Letters of Eugénie de Guérin ()
  • It takes time for the absent to assume their true shape in our thoughts.

  • ... it's the folk that depend on us for this and for the other that we most do miss.

  • Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence.

  • Fond as we are of our loved ones, there comes at times during their absence an unexplained peace.

  • Real separation, to me, is the death of love. Any other — parting — well, it just isn't real.


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  • The lover in the crowded room / Empty of the one essential, / Creates the missing face, more vital / More fresh than when it touched his own.

    • ,
    • "Time Exposure," The Animal Inside ()
  • ... I have neither religion enough, nor philosophy enough, nor youth enough, nor life enough, to exist through faith in the absent and the distant and the invisible; and when I take up the pen to write to you, I am so painfully struck by the hopelessness of our separation in this world, that I could almost throw it down again with an 'à quoi bon?'

    • Anna Jameson,
    • 1842, in Geraldine Macpherson, Memoirs of the Life of Anna Jameson ()
  • ... the absence of evidence does not mean the evidence of absence.

  • ... absence ... smothers into decay a rootless fancy but often nourishes the least seed of a true affection into full-flowering love.

  • The longest absence is less perilous to love than the terrible trials of incessant proximity.

  • Absence on Love effects the same / As winds oppos'd to fire / Extinguishes a feeble Flame / And blows a great one higher.

    • Anne Finch,
    • "On Absence," Miscellany Poems, Written by a Lady ()
  • And now a month has passed and not a word have I had from you, / Not so much as a scrawl to say you could not write!

    • Amy Lowell,
    • "A Communication," Ballads for Sale ()
  • It was his absence, not his presence, that had shaped her life.

  • Do they miss me at home, do they miss me? / 'T would be an assurance most dear / To know that this moment some loved one / Was saying, 'Oh were she but here!'

  • Of all the ills that circumstance forces upon man, separation from a beloved object is, perhaps, the most salutary. Separation is the crucible wherein love undergoes the test absolute; in the fire of loss, grief softens to indifference or hardens to enduring need.

  • The saddest human experience is to view alone the scenes one has viewed through other eyes — to walk solitary where one has walked in company — to have its particular barbed shaft aimed at one from every stick and stone that mark familiar ways.

  • It is only love that has already fallen sick that is killed by absence.