Quotations about   nostalgia

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Virtue extends our days: he lives two lives who relives his past with pleasure.

[Ampliat aetatis spatium sibi vir bonus. Hoc est
Vivere bis vita posse priore frui.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 10, epigram 23

    Alt trans.:
  • "The good man prolongs his life; to be able to enjoy one's past life is to live twice." [Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)]
  • "For he lives twice who can at once employ / The present well, and e'en the past enjoy." [Pope, Imitation of Martial]
  • "A good man lengthens his term of existence; to be able to enjoy our past life is to live twice." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "The good man broadens for himself the span of his years: to be able to enjoy the life you have spent, is to live it twice." [tr. Nisbet (2015)]
  • "A good man widens for himself his age's span; he lives twice who can find delight in life bygone." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 8-Aug-18 | Last updated 8-Aug-18
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What do you suppose makes all men look back to the time of childhood with so much regret (if their childhood has been, in any moderate degree, healthy or peaceful)? That rich charm, which the least possession had for us, was in consequence of the poorness of our treasures. That miraculous aspect of the nature around us, was because we had seen little, and knew less. Each increased possession loads us with a new weariness; every piece of new knowledge diminishes the faculty of admiration; and Death is at last appointed to take us from a scene in which, if we were to stay longer, no gift could satisfy us, and no miracle surprise.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Eagle’s Nest, Lecture 5 “The Power of Contentment in Science and Art,” Sec. 82 (22 Feb 1872)
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Added on 15-Feb-18 | Last updated 15-Feb-18
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The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
Tremendous Trifles, “The Advantages of Having One Leg” (1909)
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Added on 12-Dec-17 | Last updated 12-Dec-17
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BUNTY: It’s such fun, being reminded of things.
NICKY: And such agony, too.

Noël Coward (1899-1973) English playwright, actor, wit
The Vortex, Act 1 (1924)
Added on 6-Dec-17 | Last updated 6-Dec-17
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The word Martini is a nostalgic passport to another era — when automobiles had curves like Mae West, when women were eihter ladies or dames, when men wore hats, when a deal was done on a handshake, when boxing and polo were regular pastimes, when we lived for movies instead of MTV, and when jazz was going from hot to cool. It was a time when a relationship was called either a romance or an affair, when love over a pitcher of Martinis was bigger than both of us, sweetheart, and it wouldn’t matter if the Russians dropped the bomb as long as the gin was wet and the vermouth was dry. That as Martini Culture.

Barnaby Conrad III (b. 1952) American author, artist, editor
The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic, “The Great Martini Revival” (1995)
    (Source)

Conrad reworked the passage in "Martini Madness" in Cigar Afficionado (Spring 1996):

The Martini is a cocktail distilled from the wink of a platinum blonde, the sweat of a polo horse, the blast of an ocean liner's horn, the Chrysler building at sunset, a lost Cole Porter tune, and the aftershave of quipping detectives in natty double-breasted suits. It's a nostalgic passport to another era -- when automobiles had curves like Mae West, when women were either ladies or dames, when men were gentlemen or cads, and when a "relationship" was true romance or a steamy affair. Films were called movies then, the music was going from le jazz hot in Paris to nightclub cool in Vegas, and when a deal was done on a handshake, the wise guy who welched soon had a date with a snub-nosed thirty-eight. Love might have ended in a world war, but a kiss was still a kiss, a smile was still a smile, and until they dropped the atomic bomb there was no need to worry, schweetheart, as long as the vermouth was dry and the gin was wet. That was Martini Culture.
Added on 2-Sep-17 | Last updated 7-May-18
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Our ancestors used to wear decent clothes, well-adapted to the shape of their bodies; they were skilled horsemen and swift runners, ready for all seemly undertakings. But in these days the old customs have almost wholly given way to new fads. Our wanton youth is sunk in effeminacy, and courtiers, fawning, seek the favors of women with every kind of lewdness. […] They sweep the dusty ground with the unnecessary trains of their robes and mantles; their long, wide sleeves cover their hands whatever they do; impeded by these frivolities they are almost incapable of walking quickly or doing any kind of useful work.

Orderic Vitalis (1075-c. 1142) English monk, chronicler
Historia Ecclesiastica, Book 4 [tr. Chibnall (1969-80)]

Alt. trans.: "Our ancestors used to wear decent clothes, nicely fitted to the shape of their bodies and suitable for riding and running and performing every task that they should reasonably perform. But in these wicked days the practices of olden times have almost completely given way to novel fads."
Added on 6-Jul-17 | Last updated 6-Jul-17
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You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of “the artist” and the all-sufficiency of “art” and “beauty” and “love”, back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) American writer
You Can’t Go Home Again, Book 7 “A Wind Is Rising and the Rivers Flow” (1940)
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Added on 1-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother’s cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better. But it is true that we have exchanged corpulence for starvation, and either one will kill us.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
Travels with Charley (1962)
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Added on 16-Mar-17 | Last updated 16-Mar-17
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We, or at least I, can have no conception of human life and human thought in a hundred years or fifty years. Perhaps my greatest wisdom is the knowledge that I do not know. The sad ones are those who waste their energy in trying to hold it back, for they can only feel bitterness in loss and no joy in gain.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
Travels With Charley: In Search of America, Part 2 (1962)
Added on 23-Feb-17 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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Am I the person who used to wake in the middle of the night and laugh with the joy of living? Who worried about the existence of God, and danced with young ladies till long after daybreak? Who sang “Auld Lang Syne” and howled with sentiment, and more than once gazed at the full moon through a blur of great, romantic tears?

Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) American-English essayist, editor, anthologist
More Trivia, “Last Words” (1934)
Added on 9-Feb-17 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
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I never hear parents exclaim impatiently, “Children, you must not make so much noise,” that I do not think how soon the time may come when those parents would give all the world, could they hear once more the ringing laughter which once so disturbed them.

Abbott Eliot "A. E." Kittredge (1834-1912) American clergyman and Presbyterian leader
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
Added on 3-Jan-17 | Last updated 3-Jan-17
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We spake of many a vanished scene,
Of what we once had thought and said,
Of what had been, and might have been,
And who was changed, and who was dead;
And all that fills the hearts of friends,
When first they feel, with secret pain,
Their lives thenceforth have separate ends,
And never can be one again.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
“The Fire of Drift-Wood”, l. 13 in The Seaside and the Fireside (1850)
Added on 17-Nov-16 | Last updated 17-Nov-16
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I have had playmates, I have had companions;
In my days of childhood, in my joyful school days —
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.

Charles Lamb (1775-1834) Welsh-English essayist
“Old Familiar Faces” (1798)
Added on 20-Oct-16 | Last updated 20-Oct-16
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Every old man complains of the growing depravity of the world, of the petulance and insolence of the rising generation. He recounts the decency and regularity of former times, and celebrates the discipline and sobriety of the age in which his youth was passed; a happy age which is now no more to be expected, since confusion has broken in upon the world, and thrown down all the boundaries of civility and reverence.

johnson-growing-depravity-of-the-world-wist_info-quote

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The Rambler, #50 (8 Sep 1750)
Added on 6-Oct-16 | Last updated 6-Oct-16
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She was a grown up now, and she discovered that being a grown up was not quite what she had suspected it would be when she was a child. She had thought then that she would make a conscious decision one day to simply put her toys and games and little make-believes away. Now she discovered that was not what happened at all. Instead, she discovered, interest simply faded. It became less and less and less, until a dust of years drew over the bright pleasures of childhood, and they were forgotten.

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
The Eyes of the Dragon (1987)
Added on 31-Aug-16 | Last updated 31-Aug-16
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It’s hard to let go of anything we love. We live in a world that teaches us to clutch. But when we clutch we’re left with a fist full of ashes.

LEngle - fist full of ashes - wist_info quote

Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007) American writer
A Ring of Endless Light, ch. 4 [Adam] (1980)
Added on 11-Jun-16 | Last updated 11-Jun-16
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Hearts full of youth!
Hearts full of truth!
Six parts gin to
One part vermouth!

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“Bright College Days,” An Evening (Wasted) with Tom Lehrer (1959)
Added on 26-May-16 | Last updated 26-May-16
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Times change. The vices of your age are stylish today.

Aristophanes (c.450-c.388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
The Clouds, l. 914 (c. 423 BC) [tr. Arrowsmith (1962)]

This line frequently quoted to show the antiquity of the sentiment. However, it is only found in the Arrowsmith translation. Compare, for example, to Hickie (1853)
Added on 12-May-16 | Last updated 12-May-16
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Bright college days, oh, carefree days that fly,
To thee we sing with our glasses raised on high.
Let’s drink a toast as each of us recalls
Ivy-covered professors in ivy-covered halls.

Turn on the spigot,
Pour the beer and swig it,
And gaudeamus igit-
-ur.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“Bright College Days”
Added on 21-Apr-16 | Last updated 21-Apr-16
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There’s a particular kind of safety that comes from being on the streets where you went to school, had your first snog, or drink, or threw up your first chicken vindaloo.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Moon Over Soho (2011)
Added on 18-Nov-15 | Last updated 18-Nov-15
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Who hath not saved some trifling thing
More prized than jewels rare —
A faded flower, a broken ring,
A tress of golden hair?

Ellen Clementine Howarth (1827-1899) American poet
“‘Tis but a Little Faded Flower”
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Added on 16-Nov-15 | Last updated 16-Nov-15
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I met my old lover on the street today
She seemed so glad to see me; I just smiled
And we talked about the old times, and drank ourselves some beers
Still crazy after all these years.

Paul Simon (b. 1941) American musician, singer-songwriter.
“Still Crazy After All These Years” (1975)
Added on 12-Nov-15 | Last updated 12-Nov-15
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Clinging to the past is the problem. Embracing change is the answer.

Gloria Steinem (b. 1934) American feminist, journalist, activist
“Doing Sixty,” Moving Beyond Words (1994)
Added on 4-May-15 | Last updated 4-May-15
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To me, fair friend, you never can be old,
For as you were when first your eye I ey’d,
Such seems your beauty still.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Sonnet 104
Added on 4-Feb-15 | Last updated 4-Feb-15
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It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.

P.D. James (b. 1920) British mystery writer [Phyllis Dorothy James White]
“Rhesus Positive,” A Taste for Death (1986)
Added on 8-Oct-14 | Last updated 8-Oct-14
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Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

Dr. Seuss (1904-1991) American author, illustrator [pseud. of Theodor Geisel]
(Attributed)

Often attributed to Dr. Seuss without a citation of source. Also sometimes attributed, without citation to Gabriel García Márquez: "No llores porque ya se terminó ... sonríe, porque sucedió."
Added on 30-May-14 | Last updated 30-May-14
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Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother’s cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) American writer
Travels With Charley: In Search of America, Part 2 (1962)
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Added on 21-Aug-09 | Last updated 23-Feb-17
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That sign of old age, extolling the past at the expense of the present.

Sydney Smith (1771-1845) English clergyman, essayist, wit
Lady Holland’s Memoir, Vol. 1, ch. 11 (1855)
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Added on 6-Mar-09 | Last updated 10-Jul-14
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To complain of the age we live in, to murmur at the present possessors of power, to lament for the past, to conceive extravagant hopes of the future, are the common dispositions of the greatest part of mankind.

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) Anglo-Irish statesman, orator, philosopher
“Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents” (23 Apr 1770)
Added on 6-May-08 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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Th’ past always looks better thin it was. It’s only pleasant because it isn’t here.

[The past always looks better than it was. It’s only pleasant because it isn’t here.]

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
A Family Union, “Mr. Dooley”
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Mar-16
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Trust not the heart of that man for whom old clothes are not venerable.

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) Scottish essayist and historian
Sartor Resartus, Book 3, ch. 6 (1833)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-Apr-17
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