An aphorism is nothing else but the slightest
form of writing raised to the highest level of expressive communication. Carl William Brown





Think of your forefathers! Think of your posterity.


John Adams (1735-1826, American President (2nd))


Nothing is improbable until it moves into past tense.


George Ade (1866-1944, American humorist, playwright)


It is one thing to learn about the past; it is another to wallow in it.


Kenneth Auchincloss


One must always maintain one's connection to the past and yet ceaselessly pull away from it. To remain in touch with the past requires a love of memory. To remain in touch with the past requires a constant imaginative effort.


Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962, French scientist, philosopher, literary theorist)


Antiquities are history defaced, or some remnants of history which have casually escaped the shipwreck of time.


Francis Bacon (1561-1626, British philosopher, essayist, statesman)


The past is finished. There is nothing to be gained by going over it. Whatever it gave us in the experiences it brought us was something we had to know


Rebecca Beard


There is a way to look at the past. Don't hide from it. It will not catch you -- if you don't repeat it.


Pearl Bailey (1918-1990, American vocalist, movie and stage actress)


How we remember, what we remember, and why we remember form the most personal map of our individuality.


Christina Baldwin


Nostalgia is a seductive liar.


George W. Ball (1909-1991, American politician)


The past should be a springboard, not a hammock.


Ivern Ball


I cannot sing the old songs, Or dream those dreams again,


Charlotte Barnard


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.


James M. Barrie (1860-1937, British playwright)


The past is a work of art, free of irrelevancies and loose ends.


Max Beerbohm (1872-1956, British actor)


The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.


Walter Benjamin (1982-1940, German critic, philosopher)


The past grows gradually around one, like a placenta for dying.


John Berger (1926-, British actor, critic)


The present contains nothing more than the past, and what is found in the effect was already in the cause.


Henri L. Bergson (1859-1941, French philosopher)


Many are always praising the by-gone time, for it is natural that the old should extol the days of their youth; the weak, the time of their strength; the sick, the season of their vigor; and the disappointed, the spring-tide of their hopes.


Caleb Bingham (1811-1879, American painter)


Yesterday is a canceled check: Forget it. Tomorrow is a promissory note: Don't count on it. Today is ready cash: Use it!


Edwin C. Bliss (American author)


Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.


Ralph Blum


Nothing is predestined: The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.


Ralph Blum


Just do your best today and tomorrow will come ... tomorrow's going to be a busy day, a happy day.


Helen Boehm


If you are carrying strong feelings about something that happened in your past, they may hinder your ability to live in the present.


Les Brown (1945-, American speaker, author, trainer, motivator,)


To know your past and what has caused you, observe yourself in the present, since it is the effect of the past. To know your future, observe yourself in the present, since it is the cause the future.


Buddha (568-488 BC, Indian born, founder of Buddhism)


The investor of today does not profit from yesterday's growth.


Warren Buffett (1930-, American investment entrepreneur)


There are two kinds of stones, as everyone knows, one which rolls.


Amelia Earhart (1897-1937, American aviator, author)


Your past is important, but it is not nearly as important to your present as the way you see your future.


Tony Campolo (American sociologist, theologian)


To look back to antiquity is one thing, to go back to it is another.


Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832, British sportsman writer)


The past is all holy to us; the dead are all holy; even they that were wicked when alive.


Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881, Scottish philosopher, author)


All the king's horses and all the king's men can't put the past together again. So let's remember: Don't try to saw sawdust.


Dale Carnegie (1888-1955, American trainer, author, "How to Win Friends and Influence People")


Posterity will say as usual: "In the past things were better, the present is worse than the past."


Anton Chekhov (1860-1904, Russian playwright, short story writer)


The good old days. The only good days are ahead.


Alice Childress


I love my past, I love my present. I am not ashamed of what I have had, and I am not sad because I no longer have it.


Sidonie Gabrielle Colette (1873-1954, French author)


Mr. Meant-to has a friend, his name is Didn't-Do. Have you met them? They live together in a house called Never-Win. And I am told that it is haunted by the Ghost of Might-have-Been.


Marva Collins (1936- African-American educator)


Study the past if you would divine the future.


Confucius (BC 551-479, Chinese ethical teacher, philosopher)


We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4am of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.


Joan Didion (1934-, American essayist)


One short sleep past, we wake eternally, and death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.


John Donne (1572-1632, British metaphysical poet)


The past always looks better than it was because it isn't here.


Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936, American journalist, humorist)


The distinction between the past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.


Albert Einstein (1879-1955, German-born American physicist)


The free world must not prove itself worthy of its own past.


Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969, American President (34th))


It's but little good you'll do a-watering the last year's crops.


George Eliot (1819-1880, British novelist)


It's but little good you'll do a-watering the last year's crops.


George Eliot (1819-1880, British novelist)


With memory set smarting like a reopened wound, a man's past is not simply a dead history, an outworn preparation of the present: it is not a repented error shaken loose from the life: it is a still quivering part of himself, bringing shudders and bitter flavors and the tinglings of a merited shame.


George Eliot (1819-1880, British novelist)


To design the future effectively, you must first let go of your past.


Charles J. Givens (1941-, American businessman, author, trainer)


Look to the past for guidance into the future.


Robert Jacob Goodkin


The past is never dead -- it is not even past.


William Faulkner (1897-1962, American novelist)


The past but lives in written words: a thousand ages were blank if books had not evoked their ghosts, and kept the pale unbodied shades to warn us from fleshless lips.


Francois de Salignac Fenelon (1651-1715, French writer)


It is sadder to find the past again and find it inadequate to the present than it is to have it elude you and remain forever a harmonious conception of memory.


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940, American writer)

Author's website:


So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.


F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940, American writer)

Author's website:


It's very expressive of myself. I just lump everything in a great heap which I have labeled "the past," and, having thus emptied this deep reservoir that was once myself, I am ready to continue.


Zelda Fitzgerald (1900-1948, American writer)


No yesterdays are ever wasted for those who give themselves to today.


Brendan Francis


It is not the literal past, the "facts" of history, that shape us, but images of the past embodied in language.


Brian Friel (1929-, Irish playwright, author)


Don't ruin the present with the ruined past.


Ellen Gilchrist


It will be a great thing for the human soul when it finally stops worshipping backwards.


Charlotte P. Gillman (1860-1935, American feminist and writer)


There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. There is only an eternally new now that builds and creates itself out of the best as the past withdraws.


Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe (1749-1832, German poet, dramatist, novelist)


In the maxim of the past you cannot go anywhere.


Maxim Gorky (1868-1936, Russian novelist)


The past is a funeral gone by.


Sir Edmund Gosse


We live in a world where amnesia is the most wished-for state. When did history become a bad word?


John Guare (1938-, American playwright)


The past is the best way to suppose what may come.


Lord Halifax


The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.


Leslie P. Hartley (1895-1972, British author)


Every man is his own ancestor, and every man his own heir. He devises his own fortune, and he inherits his own past.


Francis Herbert Hedge (1846-1924, British philosopher)


The mill cannot grind with the water that's past.


George Herbert (1593-1632, British metaphysical poet)


The mill cannot grind with the water that's past.


George Herbert (1593-1632, British metaphysical poet)


If the only new thing we have to offer is an improved version of the past, then today can only be inferior to yesterday. Hypnotized by images of the past, we risk losing all capacity for creative change.


Robert Hewison (1943-, British cultural historian)


If the past cannot teach the present and the father cannot teach the son, then history need not have bothered to go on, and the world has wasted a great deal of time.


Russell Hoban (1925-, American author)


Clogged with yesterday's excess, the body drags the mind down with it.


Horace (BC 65-8, Italian poet)


Having harvested all the knowledge and wisdom we can from our mistakes and failures, we should put them behind us and go ahead.


Edith Johnson


The good old days were never that good, believe me. The good new days are today, and better days are coming tomorrow. Our greatest songs are still unsung.


Hubert H. Humphrey (1911-1978, American Vice President)


They say you should not suffer through the past.You should be able to wear it like a loose garment, take it off and let it drop.


Eva Jessye


Very frequently, feminine activity also expresses itself in what is largely a retrospectively oriented pondering over what we ought to have done differently in life, and how we ought to have done it; or, as if under compulsion, we make up strings of causal connections. We like to call this thinking; though, on the contrary, it is a form of mental activity that is strangely pointless and unproductive, a form that really leads only to self-torture.


Emma Jung


The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.


Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968, American Civil Rights leader, Nobel Prize winner, 1964)


The past is prophetic in that it asserts loudly that wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.


Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968, American Civil Rights leader, Nobel Prize winner, 1964)


The past, though it cannot be relived, can always be repaired.


John La Farge


Were it not better to forget Than to remember and regret?


Letitia Elizabeth Landon


Anyone who limits her vision to memories of yesterday is already dead.


Lillie Langtry


Whatever with the past is gone, the best is always yet to come.


Lucy Larcom


The past is an illusion. You must learn to live in the present and accept yourself for what you are now. What you lack in flexibility and agility you must make up with knowledge and constant practice.


Bruce Lee (1940-1973, Chinese-American martial artist, actor, director, author)

Author's website:


Yesterday I lived, today I suffer, tomorrow I die; but I still think fondly, today and tomorrow, of yesterday.


Gotthold Lessing (1729-1781, German dramatist, critic)


The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present.


Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865, American President (16th))


Nor deem the irrevocable Past As wholly wasted, wholly vain, If, rising on its wrecks, at last To something nobler we attain.


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1819-1892, American poet)


The past is necessarily inferior to the future. That is how we wish it to be. How could we acknowledge any merit in our most dangerous enemy: the past, gloomy prevaricator, execrable tutor?


Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944, Italian playwright, founder of Futurism)


To be able to look back upon one's past life with satisfaction is to live twice.


Marcus Valerius Martial (40-104, Latin poet and epigrammatist)


Accept the past for what it was. Acknowledge the present for what it is. Anticipate the future for what it can become.


Tracy L. McNair


What you've done becomes the judge of what you're going to do especially in other people's minds. When you're traveling, you are what you are. People don't have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.


William Least Heat Moon


The past in retrospect holds manifold disenchantments, failures and even tragedies; and yet the worse may be forgotten and the best held fast.


Robertson W. Neicoll


Never let yesterday use up today.


Richard H. Nelson


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)


Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.


George Orwell (1903-1950, British author, "Animal Farm")


They spend their time looking forward to the past.


John Osborne (1929-, British playwright)


If you're going to be able to look back on something and laugh about it, you might as well laugh about it now.


Marie Osmond


We crucify ourselves between two thieves: regret for yesterday and fear of tomorrow.


Fulton Oursler


The good of other times let people state; I think it lucky I was born so late.


Ovid (BC 43-18 AD, Roman poet)


Some are so very studious of learning what was done by the ancients that they know not how to live with the moderns.


William Penn (1644-1718, British religious leader, founder of Pennsylvania)


We do NOT know the past in chronological sequence. It may be convenient to lay it out anesthetized on the table with dates pasted on here and there, but what we know we know by ripples and spirals eddying out from us and from our own time.


Ezra Pound (1885-1972, American poet, critic)


Pain is no longer pain when it is past.


Margaret J. Preston


The moments of the past do not remain still; they retain in our memory the motion which drew them towards the future, towards a future which has itself become the past, and draw us on in their train.


Marcel Proust (1871-1922, French novelist)


There is nothing new, but what has become antiquated.


French Proverb (Sayings of French origin)


Nothing is as new as something which as been long forgotten.


German Proverb (Sayings of German origin)


 Back to Daimon Library English Quotes Search Page


website tracking