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John Bartlett (1820–1905). Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. 1919.

6531 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807-1882 John Bartlett

AUTHOR:Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882)
QUOTATION:Ships that pass in the night and speak each other in passing;
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another, 1 
Only a look and a voice; then darkness again and a silence.
ATTRIBUTION:Tales of a Wayside Inn. Part iii. The Theologian’s Tale: Elizabeth. iv.
Note 1.
And soon, too soon, we part with pain,
To sail o’er silent seas again.
Thomas Moore: Meeting of the Ships.

Two lives that once pass are as ships that divide.
Edward Bulwer Lytton. A Lament.

We twain have met like the ships upon the sea.
Alexander Smith. A Life Drama.

As two floating planks meet and part on the sea,
O friend! so I met and then parted from thee.
W. R. Alger: The brief chance Encounter.
  As vessels starting from ports thousands of miles apart pass close to each other in the naked breadths of the ocean, nay, sometimes even touch in the dark.
Holmes: Professor at the Breakfast Table. [back]