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Absent from thee (A Song) Summary & Analysis
by John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

Absent from thee (A Song) Summary & Analysis
by John Wilmot Earl of Rochester

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"Absent from thee" is one of many poems that John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-1680) only shared with his friends during his lifetime; it wasn't widely published until years after his death. Like a lot of Rochester's poems, this "Song" is witty, mocking, and lewd. In it, a speaker assures his lover that the best way he can prove his undying love for her is to cheat on her a lot: only through testing out the "torments" of infidelity can he be truly faithful when he returns to her. Using the shape of a love poem and the language of religious piety, Rochester satirizes traditional ideas about both love and religion. To this Restoration-era courtier, it isn't love or God, but lust that makes the world go round.

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