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Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
The Magician’s Nephew, ch. 4 “The Bell and the Hammer” (1955)
    (Source)

Inscription below the bell in Charn.
 
Added on 27-Dec-22 | Last updated 27-Dec-22
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Timely advis’d, the coming Evil shun:
Better not do the Deed, than weep it done.

Matthew Prior
Matthew Prior (1664-1721) English poet and diplomat
“Henry and Emma,” l. 310ff [Henry] (1709)
    (Source)
 
Added on 11-Oct-22 | Last updated 11-Oct-22
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From a wretched deed there is sometimes a good outcome, making penance even more unlikely than usual.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 5 (1963)
    (Source)
 
Added on 4-Oct-22 | Last updated 4-Oct-22
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As one who wills, and then unwills his will,
     Changing his mind with every changing whim,
     Till all his best intentions come to nil,
So I stood havering in that moorland dim,
     While through fond rifts of fancy oozed away
     The first quick zest that filled me to the brim.

[E qual è quei che disvuol ciò che volle
     e per novi pensier cangia proposta,
     sì che dal cominciar tutto si tolle,
tal mi fec’ïo ’n quella oscura costa,
     perché, pensando, consumai la ’mpresa
     che fu nel cominciar cotanto tosta.]

Dante Alighieri the poet
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Italian poet
The Divine Comedy [Divina Commedia], Book 1 “Inferno,” Canto 2, l. 37ff (2.37-42) (1320) [tr. Sayers (1949)]
    (Source)

(Source (Italian)). Alternate translations:

As he who what he first resolv'd rejects,
And by some fresher reasons is induc'd
Wholly to lay aside his first intent;
So I, now in the mountain's shade arriv'd,
Refus'd th' attempt which I at first desir'd.
[tr. Rogers (1782), ll. 34-38]

Like one, who, some imagin'd peril near,
Feels his warm wishes chill'd by wint'ry fear,
     And resolution sicken at the view,
Thus I perceiv'd my sinking spirits fail,
Thus trembling, I survey'd the gloomy vale,
     As near the moment of decision drew.
[tr. Boyd (1802), st. 8]

          As one, who unresolves
What he hath late resolv'd, and with new thoughts
Changes his purpose, from his first intent
Remov'd; e'en such was I on that dun coast,
Wasting in thought my enterprise, at first
So eagerly embrac'd.
[tr. Cary (1814)]

As one that what he wished unwisheth now,
     And, changing purpose in a newer drift.
     Doth his first motion wholly disallow;
So wrought I then beneath that gloomy cliff,
     Who, meditating, quenched the venturous hope
     That in her first beginning rose so swift.
[tr. Dayman (1843)]

     And as one who unwills what he willed, and with new thoughts changes his purpose, so that he wholly quits the thing he commenced,
     such I made myself on that dim coast: for with thinking I wasted the enterprise, that had been so quick in its commencement.
[tr. Carlyle (1849)]

Like one unwilling for the thing he wills,
Whose second thoughts have made his purpose pale,
And everything upon the threshold fail;
So did I with myself obscure that coast
With thinking much -- the enterprise gave o'er
With vehemence I had embraced before.
[tr. Bannerman (1850)]

And as with him unwishing what he wish'd,
     Who changes purpose as new thoughts arise,
     So that his first intentions pass away;
It was with me when on that coast obscure;
     For as thought grew, the enterprise was lost,
     Which at the first so quickly I desir'd.
[tr. Johnston (1867)]

And as he is, who unwills what he willed,
     And by new thoughts doth his intention change,
     So that from his design he quite withdraws,
Such I became, upon that dark hillside,
     Because, in thinking, I consumed the emprise,
     Which was so very prompt in the beginning.
[tr. Longfellow (1867)]

And as is he who ceases to will that he willed, and by reason of new thoughts changes purpose, so that he withdraws himself wholly from his beginning, so became I on that dark hillside; so that in my thought I made an end of the enterprise which in its commencement had been so hasty.
[tr. Butler (1885)]

Like unto one who wills not that he would,
     And shifts his purpose with thought's changing tide,
     So that he dare not make commencement good,
Thus acted I on that hill's darkened side;
     In idle thought I wasted the emprise.
     To which so swiftly I first had hied.
[tr. Minchin (1885)]

And as is he who unwills what he willed, and because of new thoughts changes his design, so that he quite withdraws from beginning, such I became on that dark hillside: wherefore in my thought I abandoned the enterprise which had been so hasty in the beginning.
[tr. Norton (1892)]

And as one who wisheth not that which he wished, and for new fancies changeth his resolve, so that he turns him wholly from his undertaking; even in such state was I on that dark slope; for, while I pondered, I brought to naught the enterprise, that was at first so readily embraced.
[tr. Sullivan (1893)]

And as one is who what he wished unwishes,
     And for new thoughts exchanges his set purpose,
     So that he quite departs from his beginnings,
Such I became upon that gloomy hillside;
     Because in thought the enterprise I wasted
     Which had at the beginning been so eager.
[tr. Griffith (1908)]

And as one who unwills what he willed and with new thoughts changes his purpose so that he quite withdraws from what he has begun, such I became on that dark slope; for by thinking of it I brought to naught the enterprise that was so hasty in its beginning.
[tr. Sinclair (1939)]

And like one who unwills what he willed first
     And new thoughts change the intention that he had,
     So that his resolution is reversed,
So on that dim slope did my purpose fade
     For I with thinking had dulled down the zest
     That at the outset sprang so prompt and glad.
[tr. Binyon (1943)]

As one who unwills what he wills, will stay
     strong purposes with feeble second thoughts
     until he spells all his first zeal away --
so I hung back and balked on that dim coast
     till thinking had worn out my enterprise,
     so stout at starting and so early lost.
[tr. Ciardi (1954)]

And like one who unwills what he has willed and with new thoughts changes his resolve, so that he quite gives up the thing he had begun, such did I become on that dark slope, for by thinking on it I rendered null the undertaking that had been so suddenly embarked upon.
[tr. Singleton (1970)]

As one who unwills what he willed, will change
     his purposes with some new second thought,
     completely quitting what he first had started,
so I did, standing there on that dark slope,
     thinking, ending the beginning of that venture
     I was so quick to take up at the start.
[tr. Musa (1971)]

     And just as he who unwills what he wills
and shifts what he intends to seek new ends
so that he's drawn from what he had begun,
     so was I in the midst of that dark land,
because, with all my thinking, I annulled
the task I had so quickly undertaken.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1980)]

And just like somebody who shilly-shallies,
And thinks again about what he has decided,
So that he gives up everything he has started,
I found I was on that obscure hillside:
By thinking about it I spoiled the undertaking
I had been so quick to enter in the first place.
[tr. Sisson (1981)]

And then, like one who unchooses his own choice
     And thinking again undoes what he has started,
     So I became: a nullifying unease
Overcame my soul on that dark slope and voided
     The undertaking I had so quickly embraced.
[tr. Pinsky (1994), ll. 31-35]

     And like one who unwills what he just now willed and with new thoughts changes his intent, so that he draws back entirely from beginning:
     so did I become on that dark slope, for, thinking, I gave up the undertaking that I had been so quick to begin.
[tr. Durling (1996)]

And I rendered myself, on that dark shore, like one who un-wishes what he wished, and changes his purpose, in new thinking, so that he leaves off what he began, completely, since in thought I consumed action, that had been so ready to begin.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

     And so -- as though unwanting every want,
so altering all at every altering thought
now drawing back from everything begun --
     I stood there on the darkened slope, fretting
away from thought to thought the bold intent
that seemed so very urgent at the outset.
[tr. Kirkpatrick (2006)]

     And as one who unwills what he has willed,
changing his intent on second thought
so that he quite gives over what he has begun,
     such a man was I on that dark slope.
With too much thinking I had undone
the enterprise so quick in its inception.
[tr. Hollander/Hollander (2007)]

Like someone half regretting what once seemed knowledge,
     intention shifted around by fresh ideas,
     Starting to throw all old ones overboard,
I stood on that dark slope, pulled by feelings
     So murky they dissipated whatever I'd thought
     I knew, surrendering what once seemed real.
[tr. Raffel (2010)]

Just so, obeying the unwritten rule
That one who would unsieh that which he wished,
Having thought twice about what he first sought,
Must put fish back into the pool he fished,
So they, set free, may once again be caught,
Just so did I in that now shadowy fold --
Because, by thinking, I'd consumed the thought
I started with, that I had thought so bold.
[tr. James (2013)]

 
Added on 30-Sep-22 | Last updated 30-Sep-22
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More quotes by Dante Alighieri

Oft to the town he turns his eyes,
Whence Dido’s fires already rise.
What cause has lit so fierce a flame
They know not: but the pangs of shame
From great love wronged, and what despair
Can make a baffled woman dare —
All this they know, and knowing tread
The paths of presage, vague and dread.

[… moenia respiciens, quae iam infelicis Elissae
conlucent flammis. Quae tantum accenderit ignem,
causa latet; duri magno sed amore dolores
polluto, notumque, furens quid femina possit,
triste per augurium Teucrorum pectora ducunt.]

Virgil (70-19 BC) Roman poet [b. Publius Vergilius Maro; also Vergil]
The Aeneid [Ænē̆is], Book 5, l. 4ff (5.4-8) (29-19 BC) [tr. Conington (1866)]
    (Source)

Elissa is an alternate name for Dido. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Then, casting back his eyes, with dire amaze,
Sees on the Punic shore the mounting blaze.
The cause unknown; yet his presaging mind
The fate of Dido from the fire divin'd;
He knew the stormy souls of womankind,
What secret springs their eager passions move,
How capable of death for injur'd love.
Dire auguries from hence the Trojans draw;
Till neither fires nor shining shores they saw.
[tr. Dryden (1697)]

... looking back at the walls which now glare with the flames of unfortunate Elisa. What cause may have kindled such a blaze is unknown; but the thought of those cruel agonies that arise from violent love when injured, and the knowledge of what frantic woman can do, led the minds of the Trojans through dismal forebodings.
[tr. Davidson/Buckley (1854)]

He saw the city glaring with the flames
Of the unhappy Dido. What had lit
This fire, they knew not; but the cruel pangs
From outraged love, and what a woman's rage
Could do, they know; and through the Trojans' thoughts
Pass sad forebodings of the truth.
[tr. Cranch (1872)]

... looking back on the city that even now gleams with hapless Elissa's funeral flame. Why the broad blaze is lit lies unknown; but the bitter pain of a great love trampled, and the knowledge of what woman can do in madness, draw the Teucrians' hearts to gloomy guesses.
[tr. Mackail (1885)]

... Still looking back upon the walls now litten by the flame
Of hapless Dido: though indeed whence so great burning came
They knew not; but the thought of grief that comes of love defiled
How great it is, what deed may come of woman waxen wild,
Through woeful boding of the sooth the Teucrians' bosoms bore.
[tr. Morris (1900)]

... And backward on the city bent his gaze,
Bright with the flames of Dido. Whence the blaze
Arose, they knew not; but the pangs they knew
When love is passionate, and man betrays,
And what a frantic woman scorned can do,
And many a sad surmise their boding thoughts pursue
[tr. Taylor (1907)]

         ... but when his eyes
looked back on Carthage, they beheld the glare
of hapless Dido's fire. Not yet was known
what kindled the wild flames; but that the pang
of outraged love is cruel, and what the heart
of desperate woman dares, they knew too well,
and sad foreboding shook each Trojan soul.
[tr. Williams (1910)]

... looking back on the city walls which now gleam with unhappy Elissa's funeral flames. What cause kindled so great a flame is unknown; but the cruel pangs when deep love is profaned, and knowledge of what a woman can do in frenzy, lead the hearts of the Trojans amid sad forebodings.
[tr. Fairclough (1916)]

         His gaze went back
To the walls of Carthage, glowing in the flame
Of Dido’s funeral pyre. What cause had kindled
So high a blaze, they did not know, but anguish
When love is wounded deep, and the way of a woman
With frenzy in her heart, they knew too well,
And dwelt on with foreboding.
[tr. Humphries (1951)]

He looked back at Carthage's walls; they were lit up now by the death-fires
Of tragic Dido. Why so big a fire should be burning
Was a mystery: but knowing what a woman is capable of
When insane with the grief of having her love cruelly dishonoured
Started a train of uneasy conjecture in the Trojans' minds.
[tr. Day-Lewis (1952)]

         ... gazing
back -- watching where the walls of Carthage glowed
with sad Elissa's flames. They cannot know
what caused so vast a blaze, and yet the Trojans
know well the pain when passion is profaned
and how a woman driven wild can act;
their hearts are drawn through dark presentiments.
[tr. Mandelbaum (1971)]

         But he kept his eyes
Upon the city far astern, now bright
With poor Elissa's pyre. What caused that blaze
Remained unknown to watchers out at sea,
But what they knew of a great love profaned
In anguish, and a desperate woman's nerve,
Led every Trojan heart into foreboding.
[tr. Fitzgerald (1981)]

... looking back at the walls of Carthage, glowing now in the flames of poor Dido's pyre. No one understood what had lit such a blaze, but since they all knew what bitter suffering is caused when a great love is desecrated and what a woman is capable when driven to madness, the minds of the Trojans were filled with dark foreboding.
[tr. West (1990)]

... looking back at the city walls that were glowing now with
unhappy Dido’s funeral flames. The reason that such a fire had
been lit was unknown: but the cruel pain when a great love is
profaned, and the knowledge of what a frenzied woman might do,
drove the minds of the Trojans to sombre forebodings.
[tr. Kline (2002)]

... he glanced back at the walls of Carthage
set aglow by the fires of tragic Dido’s pyre.
What could light such a conflagration? A mystery --
but the Trojans know the pains of a great love
defiled, and the lengths a woman driven mad can go,
and it leads their hearts down ways of grim foreboding.
[tr. Fagles (2006)]

... gazing back at city walls lit up by the flames -- poor Dido's pyre. No one knew what caused the blaze, but they knew the great grief of a love betrayed and what a woman's passion could unleash. Their hearts were somber with foreboding.
[tr. Bartsch (2021)]

 
Added on 14-Sep-22 | Last updated 14-Sep-22
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Weep not that the world changes — did it keep
A stable, changeless state, ’twere cause indeed to weep.

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) American poet and editor
“Sonnet — Mutation,” ll. 13-14 (1824)
    (Source)
 
Added on 3-Sep-22 | Last updated 3-Sep-22
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In the middle of the night, things well up from the past that are not always cause for rejoicing — the unsolved, the painful encounters, the mistakes, the reasons for shame or woe. But all, good or bad, give me food for thought, food to grow on.

May Sarton
May Sarton (1912-1995) Belgian-American poet, novelist, memoirist [pen name of Eleanore Marie Sarton]
At Seventy (1984)
    (Source)
 
Added on 14-Sep-21 | Last updated 14-Sep-21
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No one on his deathbed ever said, “I wish I had spent more time on my business.”

Paul Tsongas
Paul Tsongas (1941-1997) American politician
Heading Home (1984), quoting Arnold Zack
    (Source)

Often misattributed directly to Tsongas, this was quoted from a letter from Zack, a Massachusetts lawyer and old friend, during Tsongas' battle with cancer.
 
Added on 16-Jul-21 | Last updated 16-Jul-21
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There are so many things that we wish we had done yesterday, so few that we feel like doing today.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 10 (1966)
    (Source)
 
Added on 27-May-21 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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The sad truth is that the truth is sad.

Lemony Snicket (b. 1970) American author, screenwriter, musician (pseud. for Daniel Handler)
The Carnivorous Carnival (2002)
 
Added on 17-Feb-21 | Last updated 17-Feb-21
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What a strange machine man is! You fill him with bread, wine, fish, and radishes, and out comes sighs, laughter, and dreams.

Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957) Greek writer and philosopher
Zorba the Greek, ch. 23 (1946)
 
Added on 9-Nov-20 | Last updated 9-Nov-20
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Grief is the agony of an instant; the indulgence of Grief the blunder of a life.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
Vivian Grey, Book 6, ch. 7 (1826)
    (Source)
 
Added on 17-Aug-20 | Last updated 17-Aug-20
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You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need any more of that sound.

Mary Oliver (1935-2019) American poet
“The Poet With His Face in His Hands,” New Yorker (4 Apr 2005)
    (Source)

Collected in New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2 (2005), and The Best American Poetry, 2006.
 
Added on 14-Apr-20 | Last updated 14-Apr-20
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Four be the things I am wiser to know:
Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Four be the things I’d been better without:
Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.

Three be the things I shall never attain:
Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

Three be the things I shall have till I die:
Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
“Inventory,” Life (11 Nov 1926)
    (Source)

Reprinted in Enough Rope (1926).
 
Added on 23-Mar-20 | Last updated 22-Jun-20
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There are few of us who are not protected from the keenest pain by our inability to see what it is that we have done, what we are suffering, and what we truly are. Let us be grateful to the mirror for revealing to us our appearances only.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Erewhon, ch. 3 “Up the River” (1872)
    (Source)
 
Added on 28-Oct-19 | Last updated 28-Oct-19
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Apologies rebuild the bridge that gets severed when we hurt someone else, either intentionally or by accident. Apologies don’t require us to grovel or wallow in guilt. We simply acknowledge that our actions were insensitive, unkind, or harmful and say we are sorry.

Charlotte Kasl (d. 2021) American psychologist and author
If the Buddha Dated: A Handbook for Finding Love on a Spiritual Path (1999)
    (Source)
 
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An apology is the superglue of life! It can repair just about anything.

Lynn Johnston (b. 1947) Canadian cartoonist
For Better or For Worse (31 May 1994)
    (Source)

For more discussion, see here.
 
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Right actions for the future are the best apologies for wrong ones in the past — the best evidence of regret for them that we can offer, or the world receive.

Tryon Edwards (1809-1894) American theologian, writer, lexicographer
A Dictionary of Thoughts (1908)
    (Source)

Often wrongly quoted, "... best apologies for bad actions in the past."
 
Added on 9-Jun-19 | Last updated 9-Jun-19
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The essence of good manners consists in making it clear that one has no wish to hurt. When it is clearly necessary to hurt, it must be done in such a way as to make it evident that the necessity is felt to be regrettable.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“Good Manners and Hypocrisy,” New York American (14 Dec 1934)
    (Source)
 
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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 (10.23)

    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 14-Jan-22
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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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To me, bitterness is the under-arm odor of wishful weakness. It is the graceless acknowledgment of defeat.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Dust Tracks on a Road, ch. 16 (1942)
 
Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
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The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubáiyát, 71 [tr. FitzGerald]

A reference to Daniel 5 in the Bible.
 
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Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.

bronte-proud-people-sad-sorrows-wist_info-quote

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 7 (1847) [Nelly Dean]
    (Source)
 
Added on 8-Dec-16 | Last updated 8-Dec-16
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The man who, in a fit of melancholy, kills himself today may have wished to live had he waited a week.

Voltaire (1694-1778) French writer [pseud. of Francois-Marie Arouet]
Philosophical Dictionary, “Cato” (1764)
 
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Don’t commit suicide, because you might change your mind two weeks later.

Art Buchwald (1925-2007) American humorist, columnist
Leaving Home (1995)

A personal mantra Buchwald used to combat his intermittent depression. Possibly borrowed from Voltaire.
 
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You couldn’t get hold of the things you’d done and turn them right again. Such a power might be given to the gods, but it was not given to women and men, and that was probably a good thing. Had it been otherwise, people would probably die of old age still trying to rewrite their teens.

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
The Stand (1978)
 
Added on 27-Jul-16 | Last updated 27-Jul-16
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Most men make use of the first part of their life to render the last part miserable.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
Les Caractères, “De l’Homme” (1688)
 
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Life, we learn too late, is in the living, in the tissue of each day and hour.

Stephen Leacock (1869-1944) Canadian economist, writer and humorist
(Attributed)
 
Added on 8-Jun-16 | Last updated 8-Jun-16
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But the greatest gift in the power of loneliness to bestow is the realization that life does not consist either of wallowing in the past or of peering anxiously at the future; and it is appalling to contemplate the great number of often painful steps by which one arrives at a truth so old, so obvious, and so frequently expressed. It is good for one to appreciate that life is now. Whether it offers little or much, life is now — this day — this hour — and is probably the only experience of the kind one is to have.

Charles Macomb Flandrau (1871-1938) American author and essayist
Viva Mexico!, ch. 7 (1908)
 
Added on 25-May-16 | Last updated 25-May-16
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The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

Buddha (c.563-483 BC) Indian mystic, philosopher [b. Siddharta Gautama]
(Attributed)

In The Teaching of Buddha [The Buddhist Bible] (1934) by the Federation of All Young Buddhist Associations of Japan.
 
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If you derive pleasure from the good which you have performed and you grieve for the evil which you have committed, you are a true believer.

Muhammad (570-632) Arabian merchant, prophet, founder of Islam [Mohammed]
The Sayings of Muhammed, #67 [tr. Al-Suhrawardy (1941)]
 
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The abuse of greatness is, when it disjoins
Remorse from power.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Julius Caesar, Act 2, sc. 1, l. 19ff [Brutus] (1599)
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When thinking about life, remember this: no amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Anonymous
 
Added on 29-Oct-15 | Last updated 29-Oct-15
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Things said or done long years ago,
Or things I did not do or say
But thought that I might say or do,
Weigh me down, and not a day
But something is recalled,
My conscience or my vanity appalled.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“Vacillation,” st. 4 (1932), The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933)
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Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; It is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Strictly Personal (1953)
 
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You always said people don’t do what they believe in,
they just do what’s most convenient, then they repent.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941) American singer, songwriter
“Brownsville Girl,” Knocked Out Loaded (1986)
 
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But we live through the fine days without noticing them; only when we fall on evil ones do we wish to have back the former. With sour faces we let a thousand bright and pleasant hours slip by unenjoyed and afterwards vainly sigh for their return when times are trying and depressing. Instead of this, we should cherish every present moment that is bearable, even the most ordinary, which with such indifference we now let slip by, and even with impatience push on.

[Aber wir verleben unsre schönen Tage, ohne sie zu bemerken: erst wann die schlimmen kommen, wünschen wir jene zurück. Tausend heitere, angenehme Stunden lassen wir, mit verdrießlichem Gesicht, ungenossen an uns vorüberziehn, um nachher, zur trüben Zeit, mit vergeblicher Sehnsucht ihnen nachzuseufzen. Statt dessen sollten wir jede erträgliche Gegenwart, auch die alltägliche, welche wir jetzt so gleichgültig vorüberziehn lassen, und wohl gar noch ungeduldig nachschieben.]

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life [Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit],” ch. 5 “Counsels and Maxims [Paränesen und Maximen],” § 2.5 (1851) [tr. Payne (1974)]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

But we live through our days of happiness without noticing them; it is only when evil comes upon us that we wish them back. A thousand gay and pleasant hours are wasted in ill-humor; we let them slip by unenjoyed, and sigh for them in vain when the sky is overcast. Those present moments that are bearable, be they never so trite and common, -- passed by in indifference, or, it may be, impatiently pushed away.
[tr. Saunders (1890)]

 
Added on 3-Nov-14 | Last updated 28-Dec-22
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That what cannot be repaired is not to be regretted.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 4 (1759)
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Added on 13-Oct-14 | Last updated 13-Oct-14
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Like the greedy merchants of bazaars, if we get out of life what we ask for, we are unhappy for not having asked for more.

Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) American educator, novelist, poet
Maxims for a Modern Man, #1195 (1965)
 
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I think I don’t regret a single “excess” of my responsive youth — I only regret, in my chilled age, certain occasions and possibilities I didn’t embrace.

Henry James (1843-1916) American writer
Letter to Hugh Walpole (21 Aug 1913)
 
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SID: It is not what you are; it’s what you don’t become that hurts.

Fannie Hurst (1889-1968) American novelist
Humoresque [film] (1946) [screenplay Clifford Odets, Zachary Gold]

Spoken by Oscar Levant.
 
Added on 25-Aug-14 | Last updated 25-Aug-14
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I regret nothing, says arrogance; I will regret nothing, says inexperience.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms (1890-1905) [tr. Scrase & MIeder (1994)]
 
Added on 18-Aug-14 | Last updated 18-Aug-14
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Men repent speaking ten times, for once that they repent keeping silence.

James Burgh (1714-1775) British politician and writer
The Dignity of Human Nature, Sec. 5 “Miscellaneous Thoughts on Prudence in Conversation” (1754)
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There are things you can’t walk away from. Not if you want to live with yourself afterward.

Jim Butcher (b. 1971) American author
Death Masks (2003)
 
Added on 5-Aug-14 | Last updated 5-Aug-14
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A word spoken is past recalling.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine [Paroemiologia Anglo-Latina] (1639)
 
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It is a mortifying reflection for any man to consider what he has done with what he might have done.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment

Quoted by Rev. Dr. Maxwell (1770), in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
 
Added on 31-Dec-13 | Last updated 1-Jan-14
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Anger begins with folly, and ends with repentance.

Pythagoras (c.570 BC - c.495 BC) Greek mathematician and philosopher
(Attributed)
 
Added on 27-Dec-13 | Last updated 27-Dec-13
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Therefore, two bad habits must be forbidden, both the fear of the future and the memory of by-gone trouble; the latter no longer belongs to me, the former, not yet.

Seneca the Younger (c. 4 BC-AD 65) Roman statesman, philosopher, playwright [Lucius Annaeus Seneca]
Moral Letters to Lucilius [Epistulae morales ad Lucilium], letter 78, sec. 14
 
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If you are patient in one moment of anger, you will escape a hundred days of sorrow.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Chinese proverb
 
Added on 14-Jun-13 | Last updated 11-Feb-20
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Remorse drives the weak to despair and the strong to sainthood.

[Die Reue treibt den Schwachen zur Verzweiflung und macht den Starken zum Heiligen.]

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms [Aphorismen], No. 412 (1880) [tr. Scrase/Mieder (1994)]
 
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It is always easier to hear an insult and not retaliate than have the courage to fight back against someone stronger than yourself; we can always say we’re not hurt by the stones others throw at us, and it’s only at night — when we’re alone and our wife or our husband or our school friend is asleep — that we can silently grieve over our own cowardice.

Paulo Coelho (b. 1947) Brazilian spiritual writer
The Devil and Miss Prym (2000)
 
Added on 14-Mar-13 | Last updated 3-Feb-20
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In youth our judgments are obscured by our hopes; in age, by our regrets.

Paul Eldridge (1888-1982) American educator, novelist, poet
Maxims for a Modern Man, #144 (1965)
    (Source)
 
Added on 7-Feb-11 | Last updated 28-Jan-22
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When I had youth I had no money; now I have the money I have no time; and when I get the time, if I ever do, I shall have no health to enjoy life. I suppose it’s the discipline I need; but it’s rather hard to love the things I do, and see them go by because duty chains me to my galley. If I ever come into port with all sails set, that will be my reward perhaps.

Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) American writer
(Attributed) (1873)

Quoted in M. Saxton, Louisa May, ch. 17 (1977).
 
Added on 7-Oct-08 | Last updated 16-Apr-19
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I wanted the hurtling moons of Barsoom. I wanted Storisende and Poictesme, and Holmes shaking me awake to tell me, “The game’s afoot!” I wanted to float down the Mississippi on a raft and elude a mob in company with the Duke of Bilgewater and the Lost Dauphin.

I wanted Prester John, and Excalibur held by a moon-white arm out of a silent lake. I wanted to sail with Ulysses and with Tros of Samothrace and eat the lotus in a land that seemed always afternoon. I wanted the feeling of romance and the sense of wonder I had known as a kid. I wanted the world to be what they had promised me it was going to be — instead of the tawdry, lousy fouled-up mess it is.

I had had one chance — for ten minutes yesterday afternoon. Helen of Troy, whatever your true name may be — And I had known it … and I had let it slip away.

Maybe one chance is all you ever get.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Glory Road, ch. 3 (1963)
 
Added on 12-Sep-08 | Last updated 26-Feb-18
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