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date: 09 May 2021


  1. When I came back to Dublin, I was courtmartialled in my absence and sentenced to death in my absence, so I said they could shoot me in my absence.
    Brendan Behan 1923–64 Irish dramatist: Hostage (1958) act 1
  2. The heart may think it knows better: the senses know that absence blots people out. We have really no absent friends.
    Elizabeth Bowen 1899–1973 British novelist and short-story writer, born in Ireland: Death of the Heart (1938)
  3. The absent are always in the wrong.
    Philippe Néricault Destouches 1680–1754 French dramatist: L'Obstacle imprévu (1717) act 1, sc. 6
  4. ‘Is there any other point to which you would wish to draw my attention?’
    ‘To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.’
    ‘The dog did nothing in the night-time.’
    ‘That was the curious incident,’ remarked Sherlock Holmes.
    Arthur Conan Doyle 1859–1930 Scottish-born writer of detective fiction: The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) ‘Silver Blaze’
  5. Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
    There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
    He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:
    At whatever time the deed took place—macavity wasn't there!
    T. S. Eliot 1888–1965 American-born British poet, critic, and dramatist: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (1939) ‘Macavity: the Mystery Cat’
  6. Partir c'est mourir un peu.
    To go away is to die a little.
    Edmond Haraucourt 1856–1941 French poet: ‘Rondel de l'Adieu’ (1891)
  7. Listen to the story told by the reed,
    of being separated.
    ‘Since I was cut from the reedbed,
    I have made this crying sound.
    Anyone apart from someone he loves
    understands what I say.’
    Jalal ad-Din ar-Rumi 1207–73 Persian poet and Sufi mystic: The Masnavi ‘The Reed Flute's Song’, tr. Coleman Barks
  8. Absence diminishes commonplace passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and kindles fire.
    Duc de la Rochefoucauld 1613–80 French moralist: Maximes (1678) no. 276; see Bussy-Rabutin, Francis
  9. The more he looked inside the more Piglet wasn't there.
    A. A. Milne 1882–1956 English writer for children: The House at Pooh Corner (1928) ch. 1
  10. Omissions are not accidents.
    Marianne Moore 1887–1972 American poet: Complete Poems (1967) epigraph
  11. Look for what's missing. Many advisers can tell a president how to improve what's proposed, or what's gone amiss. Few are able to see what isn't there.
    Donald Rumsfeld 1932–  American Republican politician and businessman: Rumsfeld's Rules (2001); interview in Wall Street Journal 29 January 2001
  12. Most of what matters in your life takes place in your absence.
    Salman Rushdie 1947–  Indian-born British novelist: Midnight's Children (1981) bk. 2
  13. I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia.
    Vita Sackville-West 1892–1962 English writer and gardener: letter to Virginia Woolf, 21 January 1926