I know the past, and thence I will essay to glean a warning for the future, so that man may profit by his errors, and derive experience from his folly.
—Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822) English Poet, Dramatist, Essayist, Novelist
God cannot alter the past, that is why he is obliged to connive at the existence of historians.
Heroism works in contradiction to the voice of mankind and in contradiction, for a time, to the voice of the great and good. Heroism is an obedience to a secret impulse of an individual’s character. Now to no other man can its wisdom appear as it does to him, for every man must be supposed to see a little farther on his own proper path than any one else. Therefore just and wise men take umbrage at his act, until after some little time be past: then they see it to be in unison with their acts. All prudent men see that the action is clean contrary to a sensual prosperity; for every heroic act measures itself by its contempt of some external good. But it finds its own success at last, and then the prudent also extol.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
A sponge to wipe away the past; a rose to sweeten the present; a kiss to greet the future.
Think of your forefathers! Think of your posterity.
—John Adams (1735–1826) American Head of State, Lawyer
The past is a work of art, free of irrelevancies and loose ends.
—Max Beerbohm (1872–1956) British Essayist, Caricaturist, Novelist
No matter her past, when a chambermaid marries a lord she becomes a lady.
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
—F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896–1940) American Novelist
The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) American Head of State
The more anger towards the past you carry in your heart, the less capable you are of loving in the present.
—Barbara De Angelis (b.1951) American Self-Help Author
Better by far you should forget and smile, than that you should remember and be sad.
—Christina Rossetti (1830–94) English Poet, Hymn Writer
The good of other times let people state; I think it lucky I was born so late.
—Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (c.43 BCE–c.18 CE) Roman Poet
A safe but sometimes chilly way of recalling the past is to force open a crammed drawer. If you are searching for anything in particular you don’t find it, but something falls out at the back that is often more interesting.
—J. M. Barrie (1860–1937) Scottish Novelist, Dramatist
The past will not tell us what we ought to do, but it will what we ought to avoid.
—Jose Ortega y. Gasset (1883–1955) Spanish Critic, Journalist, Philosopher
The cultural influences in our country are like the floo floo bird. I am referring to the peculiar and especial bird who always flew backward. To keep the wind out of its eyes? No. Just because it didn’t give a darn where it was going, but just had to see where it had been.
—Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) American Architect
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–92) British Poet
Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That signifies nothing. For us believing physicists the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.
—Albert Einstein (1879–1955) German-born Physicist
Clinging to the past is the problem. Embracing change is the answer.
—Gloria Steinem (b.1934) American Feminist, Journalist, Social Activist, Political Activist
To design the future effectively, you must first let go of your past.
—Charles J. Givens (1941–98) American Self-Help Writer
That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.
—William Wordsworth (1770–1850) English Poet
Regretting the past is like chasing after the wind.
When I am anxious it is because I am living in the future. When I am depressed it is because I am living in the past.
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.
Here lies my past, Goodbye I have kissed it; Thank you kids, I wouldn’t have missed it.
—Ogden Nash (1902–71) American Writer of Sophisticated Light Verse
When you’re used to getting just a piece of bread for a meal, you don’t realize that you can ask for a plate of pasta. You have never seen a plate of pasta. You don’t even know it exists. So, to ask for it is totally out of your reality. Hopefully, at some point, either someone shows you a plate of pasta, you read about it, or you hear about it enough so that it becomes real, and it’s not just a fantasy anymore, and then you start thinking “Hey, I want that pasta”.
—Barbara De Angelis (b.1951) American Self-Help Author
The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.
—Ivern Ball (1926–92) American Writer, Aphorist
Man… cannot learn to forget, but hangs on the past: however far or fast he runs, that chain runs with him.
—Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) German Philosopher, Scholar, Writer
What is past is prologue.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
Fearfulness, contrary to all other vices, maketh a man think the better of another, the worse of himself.
—Philip Sidney (1554–86) English Soldier Poet, Courtier
Only one accomplishment is beyond both the power and the mercy of the Gods. They cannot make the past as though it had never been.
—Aeschylus (525–456 BCE) Greek Playwright