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Quotations about Time
It is an old story, this irresistible and ceaseless onflow of life and time; time always scattering the flowers of life with a lavish hand along its course... ~Hamilton Wright Mabie (1846–1916), "New Year's Eve" (c.1885), My Study Fire
I seemed to have lived a long time since that day. ~Richard Hengist Horne, Memoirs of a London Doll, Written by Herself. Edited by Mrs. Fairstar, 1846
Time wastes our bodies and our wits, but we waste time, so we are quits. ~Author Unknown
Time is the fire in which we burn. ~Delmore Schwartz, "Calmly We Walk Through This April's Day," 1937 (Thanks, George)
People who would never trespass on your property will trespass on your time, as if your time were not your property. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
He who robs you of your time steals your greatest treasure. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882
I said, "It is desolation; it is neither seed-time nor harvest," but the ground lay fallow. I complained, "It is ebb-tide; I drift in the moonless narrows," but another hour, a rift of illumination and flood-tide, and I swept out to the high seas. ~Muriel Strode-Lieberman (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904
How often the morning sun has surprised him working on some chart which he had begun at night! and how often night has surprised him at a task begun at the break of day! ~Cicero
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
Days are either days or daze according to the temper of the tempter. To the tempestuous, every day is different from every other day, and no day is a mere stitch in Time. ~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "The One-Way Mind," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1931 June 1st
Here's to the Clock!
Whose hands, we pray heaven,
When we come home at three,
Have stopped at eleven!
~Oliver Herford, "To The Clock," Happy Days, illustrated by John Cecil Clay, 1917
You must have been warned against letting the golden hours slip by; but some of them are golden only because we let them slip by. ~J.M. Barrie
The hour-glass is a reminder not only of Time's quick flight, but concurrently also of the dust to which we shall at last return. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), translated by Norman Alliston, 1908
A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours. ~John B. Priestly
It strikes! one, two,
Three, four, five, six. Enough, enough, dear watch,
Thy pulse hath beat enough. Now sleep and rest;
Would thou could'st make the time to do so too;
I'll wind thee up no more.
The clock of Eternity is wound by the hand of the Almighty. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882 [Mr Basford was a watchmaker from New England.
The flower that you hold in your hands was born today and already it is as old as you are. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin
They played games, finishing in the greatest gale of delight with one invented by the Shaker girls, where the children were all named after days of the week, and were stolen by a beggar, one after another, while their mother was watching the porridge. ~Amanda B. Harris, "Some Little Shakers," in Young People's New Pictorial Library of Poetry and Prose, 1888 [a little altered
Time is a game played beautifully by children. ~Heraclitus of Ephesus
I pondered long the book of suffering, till Time stood before me saying, "There is a quicker way," and he thrust his flaming brand against my breast. ~Muriel Strode-Lieberman (1875–1964), My Little Book of Prayer, 1904
There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time. ~Napoleon I, Maxims, 1815
Time gives good advice. (El tiempo da buen consejo.) ~Spanish proverb
Be always drunken. Nothing else matters: that is the only question. If you would not feel the horrible burden of Time weighing on your shoulders and crushing you to the earth, be drunken continually.
Drunken with what? With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will. But be drunken.
And if sometimes, on the stairs of a palace, or on the green side of a ditch, or in the dreary solitude of your own room, you should awaken and the drunkenness be half or wholly slipped away from you, ask of the wind, or of the wave, or of the star, or of the bird, or of the clock, of whatever flies, or sighs, or rocks, or sings, or speaks, ask what hour it is; and the wind, wave, star, bird, clock, will answer you: "It is the hour to be drunken! Be drunken, if you would not be martyred slaves of Time; be drunken continually! With wine, with poetry, or with virtue, as you will."
~Charles Baudelaire (1821–1867), "Be Drunken," translated from French by Arthur Symons
Human life is but a schoolday of eternity. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882
Old Time, in whose banks we deposit our notes
Is a miser who always wants guineas for groats;
He keeps all his customers still in arrears
By lending them minutes and charging them years.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes
It's a strange thing, but when you are dreading something, and would give anything to slow down time, it has a disobliging habit of speeding up. ~J.K. Rowling, "The Hungarian Horntail," Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2000
Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time on his side. ~The Talmud
When does a day begin? Different nations have had their own methods of punctuating time... midnight... sunrise to sunrise... at sunset.... Small boys always begin their holidays 'the night before.' They know that the glorious Fourth of July is, and of right out to be, in full blast at least twelve hours before their elders are ready for the first firecracker; and Christmas Eve is rightly conceived as an integral part of Christmas Day.... This buoyancy of spirit which dwells confidently in the morrow, even before the dawn has come, is natural to Americans. ~Samuel McChord Crothers, "On the Evening of the New Day," The Atlantic Monthly, January 1919
Time is like the wind, it lifts the light and leaves the heavy. ~Doménico Cieri Estrada
The years pass on in rapid flight
Time neither sleeps nor nods;
They come like frequent paragraphs,
All interspersed with quads...
~Sam Walter Foss (1858–1911), "New Year's. By a Printer" (Poems by Specialists), Back Country Poems, 1892
Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations. ~Faith Baldwin
When told the reason for Daylight Saving time the old Indian said, "Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket." ~Author Unknown
When we remember that in the short space of one hundred years, all the inhabitants of this world will have passed into another state of existence, we cannot but acknowledge that the occupations of time engage too much of our attention.— All of us feel and know these things to be true, and yet we live as though we believed them not. Why is this? It is because the deep and dark valley of forgetfulness is the receptacle of neglected thought. It is a strange truth—we do forget! In the multiplicity of our earthly pursuits we forget that we are but pilgrims to another world. Reason tells the old man, that he was once young, but is he not prone to forget the high aspirations, the wild, free thoughts, the innocence and happiness of his early days? ~Charles Lanman, "Musings," 1840
Why do we treat the fleeting day
with so much needless fear and sorrow?
It's in its nature not to stay:
Today is always gone tomorrow.
~Wisława Szymborska (1923–2012), "Nothing Twice," Calling Out to Yeti (1957), translated from the Polish by Stanisław Barańczak and Clare Cavanagh
I hear the heartthrob of time in my veins. ~Terri Guillemets
Time is making fools of us again. ~J.K. Rowling
I am the bore-worm of time, hewing down the years with the slow incisors of me.
Eons yield to my insistence. I eat at their roots until time topples at my slow devouring.
~Muriel Strode-Lieberman (1875–1964), "Songs of the Strong: XIV," A Soul's Faring, 1921
Why won't they let a year die without bringing in a new one on the instant, can't they use birth control on time? I want an interregnum. The stupid years patter on with unrelenting feet, never stopping — rising to little monotonous peaks in our imaginations at festivals like New Year's and Easter and Christmas — But, goodness, why need they do it? ~John Dos Passos, 1917
How long a minute is, depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on. ~Zall's Second Law
From that first moment of doubt, there was no peace for her; from the time she first imagined leaving her forest, she could not stand in one place without wanting to be somewhere else. She trotted up and down beside her pool, restless and unhappy. Unicorns are not meant to make choices. She said no, and yes, and no again, day and night, and for the first time she began to feel the minutes crawling over her like worms. ~Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn, 1968
At certain periods of life, we live years of emotion in a few weeks, and look back on those times as on great gaps between the old life and the new. ~William Makepeace Thackeray
Round my cradle shimmered the last moonbeams of the eighteenth century and the first morning rays of the nineteenth. ~Heinrich Heine (c.1799–1856), "Thoughts and Fancies," translated from German by John Snodgrass [Many modern sources cite Heine's date of birth as Dec 13th 1797, in Düsseldorf, Germany. However, there are no existing documents to verify this, thus the date remains uncertain. Heine himself claimed his birthday was Dec 13th 1799, but other possible dates include Jan 1st 1800 and Dec 23rd 1797.
The years like great black oxen tread the world
And God, the herdsman, goads them on behind.
~William Butler Yeats, The Countess Cathleen
Some day man will travel at the speed of light, of small interest to those of us still trying to catch up to the speed of time. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
I ride the wind, the wild horses of the world, the unreined forces.
We are the fleet coursers, outbreasting the ages and immensity.
Time recedes, and we are neck and neck with tomorrow. We are gaited to life's unendingness.
~Muriel Strode-Lieberman (1875–1964), "Songs of Life-Freedom: X," A Soul's Faring, 1921 [a little altered
Time! the corrector when our judgments err. ~Lord Byron
The illimitable, silent, never-resting thing called Time, rolling, rushing on, swift, silent, like an all-embracing ocean-tide, on which we and all the universe swim like exhalations, like apparitions which are, and then are not.... ~Thomas Carlyle
"To get a conception of this change you must analyze definitely what time is. We measure and mark it by years, months, and so forth, down to minutes and seconds, all based upon the movements of our earth around its sun. But that is the measurement of time, not time itself. How would you describe time?"
The Big Business Man smiled. "Time," he said, "is what keeps everything from happening at once."
"Very clever," laughed the Chemist.... "But there is no question that to some much smaller degree we all of us differ one from the other. The difference, however, is so comparatively slight, that we can each one reconcile it to the standard measurement of time. And so, outwardly, time is the same for all of us. But inwardly, why, we none of us conceive a minute or an hour to be the same! How do you know how long a minute is to me? More than that, time is not constant even in the same individual. How many hours are shorter to you than others? How many days have been almost interminable? No, instead of being constant, there is nothing more inconstant than time."
~Raymond King Cummings (1887–1957), The Girl in the Golden Atom, "Chapter V: The World in the Ring," 1919 [Last line of the chapter reads: "This is all tremendously interesting," sighed the Big Business Man; "but not very comprehensible." I'll agree with that!
Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you. ~Carl Sandburg
Time isn't your master, you are. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife
Time is a figure eight, at its center the city of Déjà vu. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
I am the ages, with infinity stretched between my shores. ~Muriel Strode-Lieberman (1875–1964), "Songs of the Strong: VI," A Soul's Faring, 1921
How delicious and soothing Shadow Land was! Shadow Land! The Land of Yesterday, To‑Day and To‑morrow. The Land of Hope, and Joy and Peace. The two children wandered off, as it were, into a dream for a time, and when they gazed again, the garden was more delightful than ever—a joyous blend of Spring and Summer seemed to invade the grounds, while many of the flowers and trees showed slight signs of Autumn tinting. ~S.J. Adair Fitz-Gerald (1859–1925), The Zankiwank & The Bletherwitch, 1896
Time heals what reason cannot. ~Seneca
Each thread of the tapestry woven by time is precious, since all the faces that have disappeared from the earth are projected on it by our memory. But even without any face projected there, and without any of my dead reappearing there, it still keeps in my eyes the splendor of being a season of time, mankind's time, the time in which our destiny will have been experienced and inscribed, among millions of others. ~François Mauriac (1885–1970), "Man and Nature, and Art, and what it should be," Nouveaux Mémoires Intérieurs, 1965, translated from the French by Herma Briffault, The Inner Presence: Recollections of My Spiritual Life, 1968
I am tired of the imposed rhythms of men,
Tethered time, restrained and trained
To a monotonous beat
Digital time blinking exactness
~Phillip Pulfrey, "Conjecture," Beyond Me, www.originals.net
The lesson of Good Friday is to never lose hope — or at least give it 48 hours. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
We measure the beginning, and progress, and end of the year, by these months, and the days of which they consist; we date all affairs, actions, and accidents of humane life, and reflect back upon them, by the help of this certain character of time, when joined with other measures: as, such a day of such a month, of such a year in some certain period or epocha. ~William Holder, A Discourse Concerning Time, 1694 [a little altered
If you want work well done, select a busy man — the other kind has no time. ~Elbert Hubbard
How do you approach the wheel of time —
do you ride her
stick your foot in her gears
ignore her slow grinding
write poems of her elusive movement
sync yourself with her dance
or cry out in the cold night of her injustice & indifference?
Dinner was soon followed by tea and coffee, a ten miles' drive home allowed no waste of hours, and from the time of their sitting down to table, it was a quick succession of busy nothings till the carriage came to the door... ~Jane Austen (1775–1817), Mansfield Park (Volume I, Chapter X), 1814 [I've not seen the movie, but apparently the line has been updated to "Life seems nothing more than a quick succession of busy nothings." Austen was not the first to use the phrase "busy nothings" but of those who came before her, she is the most well-known.
Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over? Where is the reverse gear? ~Jack London
Time—the great polisher of all things. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897
Time flies on restless pinions — constant never. ~Friedrich Schiller
...Victor felt, in the thicket, as if he went through the gate of a new life, as on this fiery morning he sauntered onward with the sun, which darted beside him from twig to twig, through the murmuring wood, away along under symphonious branches, which were so many music-barrels set in motion, over moss that lay in green sun-fire, and under evergreen bathed in heavenly blue. And this morning renewed in his heart the painful likeness of four things,—life, a day, a year, a journey, which resemble each other in their fresh, exultant beginning, in the oppressive interlude, in the weary, sated close.— ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter, Hesperus, or Forty-Five Dog-Post-Days: A Biography, translated from German by Charles T. Brooks, 1865
The Future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. ~C.S. Lewis
Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new... but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design? ~Paracelsus
What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know. ~Saint Augustine
Every pulsation in earthly life is but the ticking of eternity's clock. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882
Time is a very healing place, one in which you can grow. ~Denise Tanner
Each moment has its sickle, emulous
Of Time's enormous scythe, whose ample sweep
Strikes empires from the root.
The inertia hardest to overcome is that of perfectly good seconds. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)
Watches are so named as a reminder — if you don't watch carefully what you do with your time, it will slip away from you. ~Terri Guillemets, "Tick tock," 1996
...[M]ay its index point to joy,
And moments wing'd with new delights.
Sweet may resound each silver bell,—
And never quick returning chime,
Seem in reproving notes to tell,
Of hours mispent, and murder'd time....
~Charlotte Turner Smith (1749-1806), "The Horologe of the Fields" Addressed to a Young Lady, on seeing at the House of an Acquaintance a magnificent French Timepiece, published 1807
We are only but guests at Time's tea party. ~Terri Guillemets
Time is the wisest counsellor of all. ~Pericles
A lot like yesterday, a lot like never. ~Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried
There are whole years for which I hope I'll never be cross-examined, for I could not give an alibi. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960
But it seemed to Lucy, in her waking womanhood, that there were other secrets hidden in Greymire; secrets that belonged to her alone, and would some day whisper their message to her heart. ~Florence Bone (1875–1971), The Morning of To‑Day, 1907
The clocks are all turned forward from Funny Time to Right Time. I always remember, "Spring back or Fall in." ~David J. Beard (1947–2016), tweet, 2008 November 2nd
There are several divisions of the day and night. I will commence with the media nox (mid-night) as it is the starting point of the civil year amongst the Romans. The time which approaches it nearest is media nocte (past mid-night); then comes gallicinium (cock's-crow); then the conticinium (moment of silence) the time that the cock ceases to crow; then the moment called ante lucem and diluculum (the break of day) when it is already day, without the sun having risen; then the second diluculum called mané (the morning when the sun commences to appear); then ad meridiem (which precedes mid-day); then the meridies, or the middle of the day; then succeeds the time called de meridie (afternoon); then suprema (close of the last moment of the day); vespera (evening) which immediately precedes the rising of the star called vesperium or hesperon; then comes crepusculum (twilight), which is perhaps called so because uncertain things are called crepercœ, and it is difficult to say whether this moment belongs to the day or to the night; then comes the moment which we call luminibus accensis (the illuminated lights) and which the ancients called prima face (the first flambeau); then concubium (time to retire); then the intempesta (inopportune time to work); and then the moment called ad mediam noctem (which is near to midnight), after which the media nox returns. ~Censorinus, De Die Natale / The Natal Day, A.D. 238, translated by William Maude, 1900 [a little altered
[N]oon time, when all nature is peculiarly quiet... ~Washington Irving, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (Found Among the Papers of the Late Diedrich Knickerbocker), The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Vol. II, 1820
Three o'clock is always too late or too early for anything you want to do. An odd moment in the afternoon. Today it is intolerable. ~Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980), Nausea, translated from the French by Lloyd Alexander [La Nausée first published in 1938, first published in USA 1959.
Mornings smell & taste
more like life;
Night reeks of dreams,
Afternoons are scentless,
save for tea & 3pm regret.
Time is the only true fortune-teller. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897
Time brings an end to everything. We should not mistake for a tragedy what is no more than the passage of time. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Time is the most undefinable yet paradoxical of things; the past is gone, the future is not come, and the present becomes the past even while we attempt to define it, and, like the flash of lightning, at once exists and expires. ~Charles Caleb Colton
Time is the only thief we can't get justice against. ~Terri Guillemets
Time is neither friend nor enemy it's just a measurement. ~Mike Dolan, @HawaiianLife
Time is what we want most, but... what we use worst. ~William Penn
Do not watch too closely
cogs in the wheel of time
Observe their passing as
the rhythm of a poem—
not clicks of the abacus
Time is the longest distance between two places. ~Tennessee Williams
Among life's regrets is all the time wasted being early for everything. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Pick my left pocket of its silver dime, but spare the right — it holds my golden time! ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Man goes nowhere. Everything comes to man, like tomorrow. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin
Whether we wake or we sleep,
Whether we carol or weep,
The Sun with his Planets in chime,
Marketh the going of Time.
For centuries, man believed that the sun revolves around the earth. Centuries later, he still thinks that time moves clockwise. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Time, the cradle of hope.... Wisdom walks before it, opportunity with it, and repentance behind it: he that has made it his friend will have little to fear from his enemies, but he that has made it his enemy will have little to hope from his friends. ~Charles Caleb Colton
Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. ~Henry David Thoreau
The Present is a Point just passed. ~David Russell
Methinks I see the wanton hours flee,
And as they pass, turn back and laugh at me.
We cannot see time directly; we catch glimpses only of its reflections. ~Terri Guillemets
Time is an equal opportunity employer. Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day. Rich people can't buy more hours. Scientists can't invent new minutes. And you can't save time to spend it on another day. Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving. No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow. ~Denis Waitely
Much may be done in those little shreds and patches of time which every day produces, and which most men throw away. ~Charles Caleb Colton
One must learn a different... sense of time, one that depends more on small amounts than big ones. ~Sister Mary Paul
Day, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. ~Ambrose Bierce
The great enemy of achievement is a schedule already full. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. ~Louis Hector Berlioz
Let not the sands of time get in your lunch. ~Tony Hendra, "Deteriorata" (Thanks Tom)