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Quotations about the Future



I fear thee not, O untried morrow! ~Julia B. Cady, "New-Year Thoughts"


...if you have failed, if through your own fault and your own folly, or the fault and the folly of others, if you have seemed to lose your chance, if you have lost the simple faith of your childhood, if you have atrophied your faculties, even if you have poisoned your blood, begin where you are to‑day and out of the treasured experience of the past, with all its good and also with all its evil, set your face forward toward a nobler and a more splendid future. ~Lyman Abbott, "Out of the Past," sermon preached in Appleton Chapel, Harvard College, Sunday evening, March 26, 1899


The future is called "perhaps," which is the only possible thing to call the future. And the important thing is not to allow that to scare you. ~Tennessee Williams


The Present gallops away with clattering feet, while the Future steals noiselessly upon us. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


I believe the future is only the past again, entered through another gate. ~Arthur W. Pinero


Say not the Future must be like the Past,
Unless you know how long the World will last.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Progress," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924


The trouble with the future is that it usually arrives before we're ready for it. ~Arnold H. Glasow (1905–1999)


There are men who run on ahead of their age, and open the gates of the future. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882


The past and present wilt — I have filled them,
      emptied them,
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
~Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass


To read the future, a man would need to have an eye in the back of his head. For the Greeks were right in calling the future the time behind us and the past the time before us. We who are less logical talk as if the future were something that lay stretched before us like a landscape — something into which we are marching with keen and comprehending eyes. Alas, we can march into it only backwards, and all that confronts our eyes is the long winding road of the past. If statesmen could see the future with anything but the backs of their heads, does anyone think that history would have been such a record of bumps and misdirections and fallings into the ditch? "Look where you are going," people are constantly saying to each other. But that is the very direction in which it is impossible to look. The eyeless condition of the back of the head is an eternal fact which governs all the activities of statesmen. It may be that in time we shall evolve a new eye where it is most needed, or be able to invent a substitute for an eye. Till this happens, the human race must inevitably go on in the old ludicrous fashion, making the old mistakes in politics, in love, and in backing horses. ~Robert Lynd, "Peering into the Future," Solomon in All His Glory, 1923


So it is and so may it ever be; that the past shall always be like a golden sunset, and the future like a crimson dawn. ~Edward Payson Powell (1833–1915), "An Old-Time Thanksgiving," 1904


The past can't see you, but the future is listening. ~Terri Guillemets


The present is the laboratory of the future. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


And in to-day already walks to-morrow. ~Friedrich Schiller, The Death of Wallenstein, 1799, translated by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834)


We shall not wait for tomorrow.
The future is always beginning now...
~Mark Strand, "The Babies"


Man's future is God's secret. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


But the future is a common mystery and a common property. ~George Fitch, "Cupid vs. Geography," 1915


The remarkable thing is that a preoccupation with the future not only prevents us from seeing the present as it is but often prompts us to rearrange the past. To enter the realm of the future is like entering a foreign country: one must have a passport, and one must be able to provide a detailed record of one's past. ~Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind, 1955


When I pronounce the word Future,
the first syllable already belongs to the past...
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "The Three Oddest Words," translated from the Polish by Clare Cavanagh and Stanisław Barańczak


He who seeks to know the future is out of harmony with the present. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


If you hear this message
      Wherever you stand
      I'm calling every woman
      Calling every man
We're the generation
      We can't afford to wait
      The future started yesterday
      And we're already late
~J. Stephens, K. Prather, M. Bryant, and D. Harris, "If You're Out There," 2008, performed by John Legend ♫


How sure I feel, how warm and strong and happy
For the future! How sure the future is within me;
I am like a seed with a perfect flower enclosed...
~D. H. Lawrence, "Wedlock"


You can never plan the future by the past. ~Edmund Burke, 1791


The course of his life is... unpredictable; no person can write his autobiography in advance. ~Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972)





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