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[ Also see Age Antiquity Beginnings Contemplation Forgetfulness Future History Memory Present Reflection Regret Remembrance Retrospection Ruins Time Today Tomorrow Yesterday Youth ]

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.
      - Confucius

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
         (II, 318),
        (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
         (epigraph)

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
         (XIII)

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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