The Quote Garden
 “I dig old books.”
 Est. 1998




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Quotations about the Past



And it is often in the past that the secret of the future lies! ~Bram Stoker, The Man, 1905


There is comfort to me in the thought that we may be deceived in our present and absurdly wrong in all our speculations about the future, but our past belongs to us, completely, wholly, and we always have everything we have put into it. ~Dorothy Thompson, letter to Rose Wilder Lane, 1928, edited by William V. Holtz


The Past's a Book wherein some Truths are found,
But not a Chain by which Men's Feet are bound.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Progress," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924


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 hardest thing about reliving the past
Is reassembling the original cast.
~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


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


There is nowhere to go back and begin again with this… there is no place to go. The past is never where you think you left it: you are not the same person you were yesterday... The place you are going towards doesn't exist yet, you must build it when you come to the right spot. ~Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools, 1962


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, 1963


Whenever I think about the past, it just brings back so many memories. ~Steven Wright, 1988


And why should I rekindle these smoking embers? Why call up from their casements the ghosts of the dead? ~Thomas Jefferson, 1820


Peace to the ashes of his sin. ~Octave Mirbeau, "The Mission," The Torture Garden, 1899, translated from the French by Alvah C. Bessie, 1931


Yesterday's weaving is as irrevocable as yesterday. I may not draw out the threads, but I may change my shuttle. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), My Little Book of Life, 1912


Our past is like a footprint. It only confirms we were there. No burden on our future does it bear. Bring the rain, clear the pane of clutter. ~Jeb Dickerson, @JebDickerson


...time past was time past. You just couldn't get hold of the things you had done and turn them right again. Such power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to men and women, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens. ~Stephen King, The Stand, 1978, stephenking.com


The one charm of the past is that it is the past. ~Oscar Wilde


The past is the long tail of time, which often coils about our memories and strangles hope. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


The past does not have the power to undermine your future. Only you can do that. ~Dodinsky


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


Let us fly from the Past on the wings of Faith. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897


Here's to the past,
Too happy to last...
~James Clarence Harvey, "To the Past," Over the Nuts & Wine, 1906


Let us have done with vain regrets and longings for the days that never will be ours again. Our work lies in front, not behind us; and "Forward!" is our motto. Let us not sit with folded hands, gazing upon the past as if it were the building: it is but the foundation. Let us not waste heart and life, thinking of what might have been, and forgetting the may-be that lies before us. Opportunities flit by while we sit regretting the chances we have lost, and the happiness that comes to us we heed not because of the happiness that is gone. ~Jerome K. Jerome, "On Memory," The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow: A Book for an Idle Holiday, 1890


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


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


But a queer thing is — this is personal — however painful a thing has been when I look back it is no longer painful, or no more painful than music is. In fact it is just that. ~Katherine Mansfield


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


What is the past? — A picture in the mind! ~Charles Searle, Look Here!, 1885


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


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


It is hell to dwell. ~The Great, "The Beard," 2020, written by Tony McNamara, Vanessa Alexander, and Gretel Vella, based on the play written by Tony McNamara  [S1, E2, Peter]


The dream has come again;
My heart beats loud and fast;
The nightmare of the Past,
Springing from torture's den
On unresisting me
Twists with too great disdain
Each nerve in agony...
How impotent mind's powers
When dreams bring back the ghosts of buried hours...
And the black nightmare doth enfold
My senses in the mystery
Of my heart's history...
Feast on my vitals then, ye vampire thoughts of old!
Your dreaming prey behold!...
~Opal, "Memory a Nightmare and Vampire," 1856


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


Shall I regret having had a dream that never came true? No, no more than I would regret having had a lifelong friend who died. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com


The flowers of the past are dead — but their wilted beauty and potpourri aroma enrich the present with memories. ~Terri Guillemets


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


Hindsight —
      a.k.a.
      I was a fool,
      such a fool!
~Terri Guillemets


Out, damned spot! ~William Shakespeare, Macbeth, c.1605  [V, 1, Lady Macbeth]


I say there are spots that don't come off... Spots that never come off, d'you know what I mean? ~J.K. Rowling, "The Egg and The Eye," Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000  [Mad-Eye Moody —tg]


The past falls away like wilted petals... ~Terri Guillemets  [I've removed the second line of this couplet because I found it too pessimistic. But sometimes I still think it's funny: "New things will come, probably nettles." —tg]





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