He ne hadde for his labour but a scorn.
And thus she maketh Absolon hire ape,
And al his ernest turneth til a jape.
Ful sooth is this proverb, it is no lye,
Men seyn right thus, "Alwey the nye slye
Maketh the ferre leeve to be looth."
For though that Absolon be wood or wrooth,
By cause that he fer was from hire sight,
This nye Nicholas stood in his light.
– Geoffrey Chaucer
The Canterbury Tales, The Miller’s Tale. The Miller speaks about Alison’s two admirers. Absolon is the distant lover who tries to woo her by singing to her outside her window, but she and Nicholas make him into a fool and a joke by laughing at him. Nicholas is the lover closer to Alison, so if Absolon was crazy with love Alison would not notice him, because he was so far from her sight Nicholas "stood in his light" and cast him in the shadow, metaphorically speaking. The proverb suggests the nearby lover has the advantage over the distant one.