The lovers say nothing.
Love is the finest of the silences,
the one that trembles most and is hardest to bear.
— Jaime Sabines, from ‘The Lovers’
So beautiful was the sound of their voices that by degrees they scarcely listened to the words they framed. Long silences came between their words, which were no longer silences of struggle and confusion but refreshing silences, in which trivial thoughts moved easily.
— Virginia Woolf, from The Voyage Out
Those Of Us Who Think We Know
Those of us who think we know
the same secrets
are silent together most of the time,
for us there is eloquence
in desire, and for a while
when in love and exhausted
it’s enough to nod like shy horses
and come together in a quiet ceremony of tongues.
It’s in disappointment we look for words
to convince us
the spaces between the stars are nothing
to worry about,
it’s when those secrets burst
in that emptiness between our hearts
and the lumps in our throats.
And the words we find
are always insufficient, like love,
though they are often lovely
and all we have.
— Stephen Dunn
For language to have meaning there must be intervals of silence somewhere, to divide word from word and utterance from utterance. He who retires into silence does not necessarily hate language. Perhaps it is love and respect for language which imposes silence upon him.
— Thomas Merton, from Disputed Questions
Maybe the silence you move through
shaped me, the way
a church bell ringing resonates
long after the ear ceases to perceive it,
the way waves space themselves
until they stop.
Nick Flynn, from ‘Man Dancing with a Paper Cup’