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Quotations about the Past


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A man cannot free himself from the past more easily than he can from his own body. ~André Maurois


And yet, if we are not bound by the past, neither are we to discard it.... We are to learn how, out of the past, to evolve an instrumentation useful for to‑day. ~Lyman Abbott, "Out of the Past," sermon preached in Appleton Chapel, Harvard College, Sunday evening, March 26, 1899


The past is not a package one can lay away. ~Emily Dickinson


If you have made great achievements, if you have done splendid work, if you stand high in other people's esteem, and especially in your own, do not stop to write bulletins of victory to yourself or others. The only reward worth the having for having done good work yesterday is a chance to do a better work to‑morrow. ~Lyman Abbott, "Out of the Past," sermon preached in Appleton Chapel, Harvard College, Sunday evening, March 26, 1899


Best not to mix the past with the present. The present paints the past with gold. The past paints the present with lead. ~Henry Rollins


Praises for our past triumphs are as feathers to a dead bird. ~Paul Eldridge


The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there. ~Lesley P. Hartley, The Go-Between, 1953


We may be through with the past, but the past is not through with us. Ideas of the Stone Age exist side by side with the latest scientific thought. Only a fraction of mankind has emerged from the Dark Ages... ~Bergen Evans, "Adam's Navel," The Natural History of Nonsense, 1946


The Past lies upon the Present like a giant's dead body. ~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables


The one charm of the past is that it is the past. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray


The divine gift is ever the instant life, which receives and uses and creates, and can well bury the old in the omnipotency with which Nature decomposes all her harvest for recomposition. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Quotation and Originality," Letters and Social Aims, 1876


The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it. ~Wendell Berry


Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by heart and his friends can only read the title. ~Virginia Woolf


Look not at the days gone by with a forlorn heart. They were simply the dots we can now connect with our present, to help us draw the outline of a beautiful tomorrow. ~Dodinsky, www.dodinsky.com


The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings. ~Ralph Blum


My soul is not a palace of the past... ~James Russell Lowell, "A Glance Behind the Curtain"


There is a ghost here. A lonely, heartbroken spirit. The ghost of everything that could've been and never was. ~Jennifer Donnelly, The Tea Rose


I find in old age that it's possible to revisit the past, the one requirement being that you come as you are. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


Bring the past only if you are going to build from it. ~Doménico Cieri Estrada


Words of snow, which fell last year. ~German saying


The past does not repeat itself but it often rhymes. ~Author unknown


In a new love, it's easy to live for the moment because there is no past. The more past you accumulate, the harder it is not to live there — and that's true whether it's good or bad. ~Terri Guillemets, "Stories of the future," 1995


One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present. ~Golda Meir


At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past. ~Maurice Maeterlinck


I know you will be true as steel to your conscience and principles of right, but don't marry any man with the quixotic idea of reforming him; remember, what a man is before marriage he will, in all likelihood, be after; if he has sown wild oats he—and others, too, unfortunately—must reap them. No man that has a past to bury can keep it below ground; the revenant will be constantly obtruding itself; he cannot lay it. ~M. Amelia Fytche, Kerchiefs to Hunt Souls, 1895


God has no power over the past except to cover it with oblivion. ~Pliny the Elder


We need not destroy the past. It is gone. ~John Cage


What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now. ~Author Unknown



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