I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Vertitur interea caelum
(Meanwhile the sky is turned)
tacitae per amica silentia lunae…
(through the friendly silence of the quiet moon…)
—Aeneid, II. 255-6
There is a silence where hath been no sound,
There is a silence where no sound may be,
In the cold grave—under the deep, deep sea…
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard…
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.
No voice; but oh — the silence sank
Like music on my heart.
—Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Or be for ever silent.
—The Duke of Milan, IV. iii
Silence and sleep like fields
Of amaranth lie.
—Walter De La Mare
Great Streets of silence led away
To Neighborhoods of Pause
Here was no notice — no Dissent
No Universe — no laws—
HAMLET: …The rest is silence.
HORATIO: Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince,
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
—Hamlet, V. ii
“Stars open among the lilies.
Are you not blinded by such expressionless sirens?
This is the silence of astounded souls.”
― Sylvia Plath, ‘Crossing the Water’
…Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing.
Staring into the heart of the light, the silence.
—T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land
God strikes a silence through you all,
And giveth his beloved, sleep.
Oh my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not;
And in the night season,
And am not silent.
I could not have gone through the awful wretched mess of life without having left a stain upon the silence.
And after these things, I saw foure Angels standing on the foure corners of the Earth, holding the foure windes of the earth, that the winde should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree…
Saying, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till wee haue sealed the seruants of our God in their foreheads…”
“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more, neither shall the Sunne light on them, nor any heate.”
…And when hee had opened the seuenth seale, there was silence in heauen about the space of halfe an hour.
—Revelations, 7:1 – 8:1 (1611 A.D., KJV translation)
Stand shadowless like Silence, listening
—Thomas Hood; Ode: Autumn
Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?
Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven’t the answer to a question you’ve been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you’re alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully.”
―Norman Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth
If we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel’s heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence.”
― George Eliot, Middlemarch
Seul le silence est grand;
(Only silence is great:)
tout le rest est faiblesee.
(all else is weakness.)
—Alfred de Vigny
How much better is silence; the coffee cup, the table. How much better to sit by myself like the solitary sea-bird that opens its wings on the stake. Let me sit here forever with bare things, this coffee cup, this knife, this fork, things in themselves, myself being myself.”
― Virginia Woolf, The Waves