Odes To Rosa

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"Absence Makes The Heart Grow Fonder"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The effect of absence on affection has occupied the thoughts of many. Francis Davison's Poetical Rhapsody (London, 1602) declares: "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," to which those with a cynical turn often add: "of somebody else," a concept also voiced by the apothegm: "Out of sight, out of mind." But through the ages the romantic version seems to have had more supporters. James Howell (1594-1666) in Book I, section 1, no. 6 of Famous Letters (1650), written to imaginary correspondents while he was a prisoner of the Roundheads, said: "Distance sometimes endears friendship and absence sweeteneth it." Charles Hopkins (1664-1700) in his verses "To C.C." (1694) assured her: "I find that absence still increases love." Bayly, an English poet responsible for many popular songs, like "Why don't men propose, mama?" and the still popular "Tell me the tales that to me were so dear, Long, long ago," expresses this idea in a poem included in his two-volume Songs, Ballads, and Other Poems (Bentley, 1844), edited by his widow. His statement is unlikely to be disputed, because he is speaking about a place that he is leaving with the belief that nostalgia will foster his emotion:

When the waves are round me breaking,
As I pace the deck alone,
And my eye in vain is seeking
Some green leaf to rest upon;
What would not I give to wander
Where my old companions dwell?
Absence makes the heart grow fonder,
Isle of Beauty, Fare thee well!