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O, to bring back the great Homeric time,
The simple manners and the deed sublime:
When the wise Wanderer, often foiled by Fate,
Through the long furrow drave the ploughshare straight.
- Mortimer Collins,
Letter to the Rt. Hon. B. Disraeli, M.P.,
published anonymously 1869
Study the past, if you would divine the future.
The past is the only dead thing that smells sweet.
- Cyril Connolly
How readily we wish time spent revoked, that we might try the ground again where once--through inexperience, as we now perceive--we missed that happiness we might have found!
- William Cowper
Listen to the Water-Mill:
Through the live-long day
How the clicking of its wheel
Wears the hours away!
Languidly the Autumn wind
Stirs the forest leaves,
From the field the reapers sing
Binding up their sheaves:
And a proverb haunts my mind
As a spell is cast,
"The mill cannot grind
With the water that is past."
- Sarah Doudney, Lesson of the Water-Mill
Not heaven itself upon the past has power;
But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.
- John Dryden, Imitation of Horace
(bk. III, ode XXIX, l. 71)
The days of rejoicing are gone forever.
[Fr., Ils sont passes ces jours de fete.]
- Jacques Du Lorens, Le Tableau Parlant
Oh! the good times when we were so unhappy.
[Fr., Oh le bon temps ou etions si malheureux.]
- Alexandre Dumas pere, The Conspirators
(also titled Le Chevalier d'Harmental)
I desire no future that will break the ties of the past.
- George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans Cross)
Living the past is a dull and lonely business; looking back strains the neck muscles, causes you to bump into people not going your way.
- Edna Ferber
Only a good-for-nothing is not interested in his past.
- Sigmund Freud
It is delightful to transport one's self into the spirit of the past, to see how a wise man has thought before us, and to what a glorious height we have at last reached.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The illusion that times that were are better than those that are, has probably pervaded all ages.
- Horace Greeley
O'er the trackless past somewhere lie the lost days of our tropic youth.
- Bret Harte (Francis Bret Harte)
The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.
- Leslie Poles Hartley, The Go-Between
In times like these, it is helpful to remember that there have always been times like these.
- Paul Harvey
The past, with its pleasures, its rewards, its foolishness, its punishments, is there for each of us forever, and it should be.
- Lillian Hellman
O Death! O Change! O Time!
Without you, O! the insufferable eyes
Of these poor Might-Have-Beens,
These fatuous, ineffectual yesterdays.
- William Ernest Henley, Rhymes and Rhythms
Praise they that will times past, I joy to see
My selfe now live: this age best pleaseth mee.
- Robert Herrick,
The Present Time Best Pleaseth
The past is a guidepost, not a hitching post.
- Thomas Holcroft
Continuity with the past is a necessity, not a duty.
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Say goodbye to the oldies, but goodies, because the good old days weren't always good and tomorrow ain't as bad as it seems.
- Billy Joel
O God! Put back Thy universe and give me yesterday.
- Henry Arthur Jones, Silver King
Some say that the age of chivalry is past, that the spirit of romance is dead. The age of chivalry is never past so long as there is a wrong left unredressed on earth.
- Charles Kingsley, Life
(vol. II, ch. XXVIII)
Let the dead past bury its dead!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
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