An Excerpt from Kierkegaard’s ‘Works of Love’ (1847)

That Love Abides.

“Love never fails” – it abides. 

When a child has been gone all day among strangers and thinks he ought to go home but is afraid to go alone and yet really wants to stay as long as possible, it says to an older one, who perhaps prefers to go sooner, “Wait for me”; and the older one does what the child asks. When one of two colleagues is somewhat more advanced than the other, the latter says, “Wait for me”; and the first one does as asked. When two persons have rejoiced over a decision to take a trip together, but one of them gets sick, the sick one says, “Wait for me”; and the other person does as requested. When one who owes another man money cannot pay, he says, “Wait for me”; and the other man does as asked. When a girl in love sees that there will be great and perhaps prolonged difficulties in the way of her union with the beloved, she says to him, “Wait for me”; and the lover does as asked.

Perhaps the time of waiting is too brief to make completely clear the extent to which the determination of one’s waiting deserves decisively to be called love. Alas, perhaps the time of waiting was so long that the older one said to the child, “No, I can’t wait for you any longer”; perhaps the slower one moved so slowly that the one ahead said, “No, I can’t wait for you any longer; I must travel alone”; perhaps the prospect of union with the young girl remained so remote that the lover said, “No, now I can no longer wait for you; I owe it to myself and my life not to put things off year after year for this uncertainty.” – But love abides.


Works of Love, p. 281 (Harper-Perennial: 2009)


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