Why do we say "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all"?

Well-Known Expressions

It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all

Meaning:

The pain of loss does not outweigh the pleasure of love.

Background:

The expression has its source in Canto 27 of In Memoriam (1850) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

The poem is a requiem for Tennyson's friend Arthur Henry Hallam, who died suddenly of a cerebral haemorrhage in 1833. Written over 17 years, it is considered one of the great poems of the 19th century.

Earlier, in 1700, William Congreve expressed a similar sentiment in his play, The Way of the World: "Say what you will, 'tis better to be left than never to have loved."

Alphabetical list of expressions

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