Welcome to the web’s most comprehensive site of quotations by women. 44,279 quotations are searchable by topic, by author's name, or by keyword. Many of them appear in no other collection. And new ones are added continually.

See All TOPICS Available:
See All AUTHORS Available:

Search by Topic:

  • topic cats
  • topic books
  • topic moon

Find quotations by TOPIC (coffee, love, dogs)
or search alphabetically below.

Search by Last Name:

  • Quotes by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Quotes by Louisa May Alcott
  • Quotes by Chingling Soong

Find quotations by the AUTHOR´S LAST NAME
or alphabetically below.

Search by Keyword:

  • keyword fishing
  • keyword twilight
  • keyword Australie

Past

  • ... the tentacles of today reach out like an octopus to swallow yesterday.

  • That parasite: the past.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • The past is strapped to our backs. We do not have to see it; we can always feel it.

  • Living in the past is a dull and lonely business; and looking back, if persisted in, strains the neck-muscles, causes you to bump into people not going your way ...

  • It so often happens that others are measuring us by our past self while we are looking back on that self with a mixture of disgust and sorrow.

    • George Eliot,
    • letter (1861), in J.W. Cross, ed., George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals ()
  • ... his past was no more to him than the eggshell is to the eagle.

  • Decades have a delusive edge to them. They are not, of course, really periods at all, except as any other ten years may be. But we, looking at them, are caught by the different name each bears, and give them different attributes, and tie labels on them, as if they were flowers in a border.

  • Each generation supposes that the world was simpler for the one before it.

  • Proust's tea cake has nothing on one hour in a college dorm.

  • The Old Guard dies but it never surrenders.

  • The past is a sorry country.

  • The past can be tamed and controlled.

  • The past is really almost as much a work of the imagination as the future.

  • You must learn some of my philosophy. Think only of the past as its remembrance gives you pleasure.

  • As the dead year is clasped by a dead December, / So let your dead sins with your dead days lie.

  • I fling my past behind me like a robe / Worn threadbare in the seams, and out of date. / I have outgrown it.

  • ... the mill cannot grind with the water that is past.

  • The delusions of the past seem fond and foolish. The delusions of the present seem subtle and sane.

    • Agnes Repplier,
    • "The Public Looks at Pills," Times and Tendencies ()
  • The habit of dwelling on the past, has a narrowing as well as a debilitating influence. Behind us, there is a small, — an almost insignificant measure of time; before us, there is an eternity. It is the natural tendency of the mind to magnify the one, and to diminish the other ...

    • Harriet Martineau,
    • "Proper Use of the Retrospective Faculty," Miscellanies, vol. 1 ()
  • People who are always praising the past / And especially the times of faith as best / Ought to go and live in the Middle Ages / And be burnt at the stake as witches and sages.

  • But there is, I have learned, no permanent escape from the past. It may be an unrecognized law of our nature that we should be drawn back, inevitably, to the place where we have suffered most.

  • The destruction of the past is perhaps the greatest of all crimes.

  • The past is perpetual youth to the heart.

  • It's a pleasure to share one's memories. Everything remembered is dear, endearing, touching, precious. At least the past is safe — though we didn't know it at the time. We know it now. Because it's in the past; because we have survived.

  • I don't consider devotion to the past a form of snobbery. Just one of the more disastrous forms of unrequited love.

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

  • We have the bad habit, some of us, of looking back to a time — almost any time will do — when society was stable and orderly, family ties stronger and deeper, love more lasting and faithful, and so on. Let me be your Cassandra prophesying after the fact, and a long study of the documents in the case: it was never true, that is, no truer than it is now.

  • The past is never where you think you left it ...

  • One faces the future with one's past ...

  • ... she stayed bound to a gone moment, like a stopped clock with hands silently pointing an hour it cannot be.

  • ... he diagnosed her as prey to one creeping growth, the Past, septic with what had happened.

  • The present can try to bury the past, an operation that is most atrocious when it is most successful.

    • Mary McCarthy,
    • "Inventions of I. Compton-Burnett," in Carol Brightman, Writing Dangerously: Mary McCarthy and Her World ()
  • Every journey into the past is complicated by delusions, false memories, false namings of real events.

  • The ghosts of things that never happened are worse than the ghosts of things that did.

  • ... no one can return to the place he has left, only to the place it has become. Some subconscious and idiotic ego, he supposed, made one imagine that nothing happened except in the place where one was.

  • To look back is to relax one's vigil.

  • We carry history in our bones. Our parents, our genetics, our cultures all shape what we become. Everything we decide to do is informed by what was done before us.

  • The past is not a package one can lay away.

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • c. 1883, in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., Letters of Emily Dickinson, vol. 2 ()
  • ... like camels, we lived on our past.

  • ... the past is not gone — nor is Gertrude ...

    • Alice B. Toklas,
    • 1955, in Edward Burns, ed,. Staying On Alone: Letters of Alice B. Toklas ()
  • Even though you've given up a past it hasn't given you up. It comes uninvited — and sometimes half welcome.

  • The past is good (as we all know), twenty, thirty years back everything was good, anyone can tell you that.

  • The past isn't useful until its place in the present is found.

  • We can only know where we're going if we know where we've been.

  • I have never got a grip on when the past begins or where it ends, but if cities map the past with statues made from bronze forever frozen in one dignified position, as much as I try to make the past keep still and mind its manners, it moves and murmurs with me through every day.

  • The only thing most people regret about their past is its length.

  • ... once it's jam, it can't be strawberries anymore.

  • What you were yesterday is fixed for always, making its mark on what you are today, what you will be tomorrow.

  • To look backward for a while is to refresh the eye, to restore it, and to render it the more fit for its prime function of looking forward.

  • Looking back into childhood is like looking into a semi-transparent globe within which people and places lie embedded. A shake — and they stir, rise up, circle in inter-weaving groups, then settle down again.

  • ... nothing recalls the past like music ...

  • ... time past is not time gone, it is time accumulated with the host resembling the character in the fairytale who was joined along the route by more and more characters none of whom could be separated from one another or from the host, with some stuck so fast that their presence caused physical pain.

  • I can't tell my future, so I'm going to tell my past.

    • Ma Rainey,
    • "Last Minute Blues," in Will Friedwalk, Jazz Singing ()
  • If we forget our past, we won't remember our future and it will be as well because we won't have one.

    • Flannery O'Connor,
    • "A Late Encounter With the Enemy," A Good Man Is Hard to Find ()
  • Pretending the past doesn't exist is as bad as living in it.

  • I go to my past in order to discern the future.

  • ... how easy it is to destroy the past and how difficult to forget it.

  • Yes, the past is another country, but one that we can visit, and once there we can bring back the things we need.

  • The past is only the present become invisible and mute; and because it is invisible and mute, its memoried glances and its murmurs are infinitely precious. We are tomorrow's past.

  • All normal human beings are interested in their past. Only when the interest becomes an obsession, overshadowing present and future conduct, is it a danger. In much the same way healthy nations are interested in their history, but a morbid preoccupation with past glories is a sign that something is wrong with the constitution of the State.

  • The past can seldom be recalled without sadness, for it was either better or worse than the present.

  • I'm a refugee from the past, and like other refugees I go over the customs and habits of being I've left or been forced to leave behind me, and it all seems just as quaint, from here, and I am just as obsessive about it.

  • ... an unhappy past always carries painful memories, though it looks at one with ghostly eyes that have lost their fire.

  • The beauty of the past belongs to the past. It cannot be imitated today and live.

  • Every day you have to abandon your past or accept it and then, if you cannot accept it, you become a sculptor.

    • Louise Bourgeois,
    • in Christiane Meyer-Thoss, Louise Bourgeois: Designing for Free Fall ()
  • Yet the past has a will of its own, and you must learn to entertain it, because it will visit, invited or not.

  • In a little place like Harvester, the past never became history, but sat side by side with current events, like an old woman pushing in among the young ones, insisting on being a part of things.

  • History, the winnowing wind, never halts. We see the chaff rise, forget the waiting grain, seed of the future, fallen to the threshing floor. We never learn, but live on, slit-narrow, as if our living were a pencil line traced upon paper, behaving as trapped denizens of a flat world hemmed in by the bigoted horizon of our own making. Yet the meaning of living is a pushing back, a pulling down of the great walls and domes of fear and ignorance, is relinquishing the nest for the sky, ignorance for understanding. The look back is also a look forward.

  • I cannot think of a thing that was better in those good old days.

  • Foolishly no doubt I am at times assailed by the thought that the vividness of those days, now quieted forever, may not be entirely subjective. Perhaps they exist outside time, and still continue their measured way in the scheme of things.

  • Few cultures have not produced the idea that in some past era the world ran better than it does now.

  • Seeing you sleeping peacefully on your back among your stuffed ducks, bears and basset hounds would remind me that no matter how good the next day might be, certain moments were gone forever.

  • The older one becomes the quicker the present fades into sepia and the past looms up in glorious technicolor.

  • In the West the past is like a dead animal. It is a carcass picked at by the flies that call themselves historians and biographers. But in my culture the past lives. My people feel this way in part because death does not separate us from our ancestors.

  • The past ... is a dim avenue down which we may walk and find the diverging paths of terror and beauty and passion ...

  • The past is our ultimate privacy; we pile it up, year by year, decade by decade, it stows itself away, with its perverse random recall system.

  • ... the past is not only that which happened but also that which could have happened but did not.

  • There is no hunger harder to bear than a hunger for what is gone.

  • What a strange joy it was to talk, to fish gleefully into the past and fling its fragments about us, with the unfailing aroma of pleasantness that pasts always seem to possess!

  • Always, our eyes look backwards with the conviction that then, and not now, was the golden age.

  • He would sit singing, his cheeks turning red above his whiskers; but his voice always came out deep and steady, like the sound of long ago, if long ago could make a sound instead of being forever lost and silent.

  • How swiftly the locks rust, the hinges grow stiff on doors that close behind us!

  • I come from a place where breath, eye, and memory are one, a place from which you carry your past like the hair on your head.

  • I don't understand people who hide from their past. Everything you live through helps make you the person you are now.

  • Shallow men speak of the past, wise men of the present, and fools of the future.

  • We cannot live in the past, nor can we re-create it. Yet as we unravel the past, the future also unfolds before us, as though they are mirrors without which neither can be seen or happen.

  • ... the farther behind I leave the past, the closer I am to forging my own character.

  • Oh, these are Voices of the Past, / Links of a broken chain, / Wings that can bear me back to Times / Which cannot come again — / Yet God forbid that I should lose / The echoes that remain!

  • The past is all we know of the future.

  • I cannot sing the old songs / I sung long years ago, / My heart and voice would fail me, / And foolish tears would flow ...

  • A long past vividly remembered is like a heavy garment that clings to your limbs when you would run.

  • It is not that I belong to the past, but that the past belongs to me.

  • The past was only my cradle, and now it cannot hold me, because I am grown too big.

  • Visiting old haunts is hard on memory. Things shrink, change, and disappear.

  • Perhaps the future of the world would be in better hands if we forgot about discovering something new and concentrated on recovering our past.

  • Yesterday is never over. Yesterday endures eternally.

  • The past is the tense of memory and art and wisdom.

    • Blanche H. Dow,
    • "Roads and Vistas," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, ed., Meditations for Women ()
  • What I remember / hardly happened; / what they say happened / I hardly remember.

  • Nobody can live in the past or the future without being something of a nut.

  • Remembering the past gives power to the present.

    • Fae Myenne Ng,
    • in Phoebe: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Feminist Scholarship, Theory and Aesthetics ()
  • ... sometimes a person has to go back, really back — to have a sense, an understanding of all that's gone to make them — before they can go forward.

  • Though the past haunt me as a spirit, I do not ask to forget.

    • Felicia Hemans,
    • "The Fountain of Oblivion," The Poetical Works of Felicia Dorothea Hemans ()
  • I am never free of the past. I have made it crystal clear that I believe the past is part of the present which becomes part of the future.

    • Lee Krasner,
    • in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists ()
  • She has lost her memory. Each sentence she speaks is in the present tense. She is letting the past slip from her hand, a fish into dark water.

    • Mary Gordon,
    • "My Mother Is Speaking From the Desert," in The New York Times Magazine ()
  • Whatever is past / and has come to an end / cannot be brought back by sorrow.

  • I am drunk on yesterday. / Its murmuring is preserved with every pounding of my blood, / preserved its joys, its sorrows, / lasting within me, within me.

    • Anda Amir,
    • "Lot's Wife," in Ellen M. Umansky and Dianne Ashton, eds., Four Centuries of Jewish Women's Spirituality ()
  • The Past, being in the mode of memory, is closed, inalienable, and irreparable ...

  • 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.

  • The past has been given to us. The future must be built, as others have built our past.

  • The only reason I have lived so long is that I let go of my past. Shut the door on grief on regret on remorse.

  • When the past is recaptured by the imagination, breath is put back into life.

  • I’m always nervous about going home, just as I am nervous about rereading books that have meant a lot to me.

  • If nobody can learn from the past, then there’s no point in raking it up.

  • The] past, reimagined as a slower, gentler place, a world of tight-knit communities, social cohesion and charming rural pastimes, was contrasted to the present's new, fractured, urban style of living. Nostalgia became not a longing for a lost place, but for a lost time, either of the nostalgic's own childhood, when things had been less complicated, or, more broadly, of society's childhood, an imaginary past.