Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



Quotations on Time and Dance

Time is a cage

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 instant of time is a pinprick of eternity.
Marcus Aurelius

Time is a violent torrent. Marcus Aurelius

The now is what is real. Dame Janet Baker

Time as such does not exist. There is no invisible river of time. But there are things that you could call instants of time, or ‘Nows’. As we live, we seem to move through a succession of Nows, and the question is, what are they? They are arrangements of everything in the universe relative to each other in any moment, for example, now. Julian Barbour

The passage of time is simply an illusion created by our brains.
Julian Barbour

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. James Matthew Barrie

She could sense it very clearly: for me, no less than for her, the past counted far more than the present, remembering something far more than possessing it. Compared to memory, every possession can only ever seem disappointing, banal, inadequate … She understood me so well! My anxiety that the present ‘immediately’ turned into the past so that I could love it and dream about it at leisure was just like hers, was identical. It was ‘our’ vice, this: to go forwards with our heads forever turned back.
Giorgio Bassani

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils. Louis Hector Berlioz

The past is our definition. We may strive, with good reason, to escape it, or to escape what is bad in it, but we will escape it only by adding something better to it.
Wendell Berry

I’m concerned with time which is circular. Time is not linear, though it expresses itself in that way. Harrison Birtwistle

Time hurries on with a resistless, unremitting stream, yet treads more soft than e’er did midnight thief, that slides his hand under the miser’s pillow and carries off the prize.
Hugh Blair

The tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity . . . it sets on fire the cycle of birth. James Boanerges

Time flies and draws us with it. The moment in which I am speaking is already far from me.
Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux

The tango is a direct expression of something that poets have often tried to state in words: the belief that a fight may be a celebration. Jorge Luis Borges

Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire. Jorge Luis Borges

Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them. Dion Boucicault (Dionysuis Boursiquot)

What’s not destroyed by Time’s devouring hand?
James Branston

Time was made for slaves. John Baldwin Buckstone

The time is ripe for looking back over the day, the week, the year, and trying to figure out where we have come from and where we are going to, for sifting through the things we have done and the things we have left undone for a clue to who we are and who, for better or worse, we are becoming. But again and again we avoid the long thoughts….We cling to the present out of wariness of the past. And why not, after all? We get confused. We need such escape as we can find. But there is a deeper need yet, I think, and that is the need—not all the time, surely, but from time to time—to enter that still room within us all where the past lives on as a part of the present, where the dead are alive again, where we are most alive ourselves to turnings and to where our journeys have brought us. The name of the room is Remember—the room where with patience, with charity, with quietness of heart, we remember consciously to remember the lives we have lived.
Frederick Buechner

When time is flown, how it fled
It is better neither to ask nor tell,
Leave the dead moments to bury their dead.
Edward Robert Bulwer Lytton

The silent touches of time. Edmund Burke

Nae man can tether time or tide. Robert Burns

Time, the avenger! Lord Byron

The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand.
Italo Calvino

As old Time makes these decay, So his flames must waste away. Thomas Carew

“What is human memory?” Manning asked. He gazed at the air as he spoke, as if lecturing an invisible audience – as perhaps he was. “It certainly is not a passive recording mechanism, like a digital disc or a tape. It is more like a story-telling machine. Sensory information is broken down into shards of perception, which are broken down again to be stored as memory fragments. And at night, as the body rests, these fragments are brought out from storage, reassembled and replayed. Each run-through etches them deeper into the brain’s neural structure. And each time a memory is rehearsed or recalled it is elaborated. We may add a little, lose a little, tinker with the logic, fill in sections that have faded, perhaps even conflate disparate events.

“In extreme cases, we refer to this as confabulation. The brain creates and recreates the past, producing, in the end, a version of events that may bear little resemblance to what actually occurred. To first order, I believe it’s true to say that everything I remember is false.
Arthur C. Clarke

Only those with no memory insist on their originality.
Coco Chanel

For Tyme ylost may nought recovered be. (for time you lost, may nothing be recovered) Geoffrey Chaucer

What is this life, if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. W.H Davies (written when he was a homeless, jobless vagrant)

As she stooped over him, her tears fell upon his forehead.
The boy stirred, and smiled in his sleep, as though these marks of pity and compassion had awakened some pleasant dream of a love and affection he had never known; as a strain of gentle music, or the rippling of water in a silent place, or the odour of a flower, or even the mention of a familiar word, will sometimes call up sudden dim remembrances of scenes that never were, in this life; which vanish like a breath; and which some brief memory of a happier existence, long gone by, would seem to have awakened, for no voluntary exertion of the mind can ever recall them.
Charles Dickens

Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, Time stays, we go. Henry Austin Dobson

I never knew the old gentleman with the scythe and hour-glass bring anything but gray hairs, thin cheeks, and loss of teeth.
John Dryden

…the great end comes slowly, because time is long. W.E.B Du Bois

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

My mind, I know, I can prove, hovers on hummingbird wings. It hovers and it churns. And when it’s operating at full thrust, the churning does not stop. The machines do not rest, the systems rarely cool. And while I can forget anything of any importance–this is why people tell me secrets–my mind has an uncanny knack for organization when it comes to pain. Nothing tormenting is ever lost, never even diminished in color or intensity or quality of sound.
Dave Eggers

Dancers are the athletes of God. Albert Einstein

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.
Albert Einstein

All my possessions for a moment of time. Queen Elizabeth I of England and Ireland 1533-1603, her last words

Clocks slay time… time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life. William Faulkner

Why, I hold fate Clasped in my fist, and could command the course of time’s eternal motion, hadst thou been one thought more steady than an ebbing sea. John Ford

What was our life like? I almost don’t remember now. Though I remember it, the space of time it occupied. And I remember it fondly.
Richard Ford

Remember that time is money. Benjamin Franklin

You cannot fight against the future. Time is on our side. W.E. Gladstone

There is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. Martha Graham

The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats.
William Graves

I used to think that once you really knew a thing, its truth would shine on forever. Now it’s pretty obvious to me that more often than not the batteries fade, and sometimes what you knew even goes out with a bang when you try and call on it, just like a light bulb cracking off when you throw the switch.
Lucy Grealy

Where time doth end, and thoughts accuse the dead. Fulke Greville

Perfection is the child of Time. Joseph Hall

…the bloody hand that drew from the womb of time… Heinrich Heine

Healing is a matter of Time. Hippocrates

Time has three dimensions and one positive pitch or direction. Gerard Manley Hopkins

What do the ravages of time not injure? Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus)

And naked to the hangman’s noose, The morning clocks will ring, A neck God made for other use, Than strangling in a string. A.E. Housman

Heavily laden with time expired men, Bound for the land they adore. Hughes and Lake, Bless ’em all 1940, (troop song in WW2)

I’ll just tell you what I remember because memory is as close as I’ve gotten to building my own time machine.
Samantha Hunt

Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day, man. Janis Joplin

We are here to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. Karl Jung

They are only an illusion, time and space, and so in a certain part of our psyche time does not exist at all. C. G. Jung

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety not Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, the first version of Edward Fitzgerald

The degree of slowness is directionally proportional to the intensity of memory. The degree of speed is directionally proportional to the intensity of forgetting.
Milan Kundera

Identity is memory; when memory disappears, the self dissolves and love with it.
John Lahr

Nothing puzzles me more than time and space; yet nothing troubles me less, as I never think about them. Charles Lamb

And departing, leave behind us footprints in the sands of time. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The duende works on the body of the dancer like the wind works on sand. With magical force, it converts a young girl into a lunar paralytic; or fills with adolescent blushes a ragged old man begging handouts in the wineshops; or suddenly discovers the smell of nocturnal ports in a head of hair, and moment for moment, works on the arms with an expressiveness which is the mother of the dance of all ages. Federico Garcia Lorca

Dancing is as old as love. Lucian

Time has no divisions to mark it’s passage.
Thomas Mann

What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.
Gabriel García Márquez

Had we but world enough, and time… Andrew Marvell

Time, the subtle thief of youth.
John Milton

Time will run back and fetch the age of gold.
John Milton

Death and taxes and childbirth! There’s never any convenient time for any of them.
Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music. Angela Monet

I’ve been on a calendar, but never on time.
Marilyn Monroe

There are no fragments so precious as those of time, and none are so heedlessly lost by people who cannot make a moment, and yet can waste years.
James Montgomery

Time softly there
Laughs through the abyss of radiance with the gods.
William Vaughn Moody, The Fire-Bringer

Time, still as he flies, adds increase to her truth,
And gives to her mind what he steals from her youth.
Edward Moore, The Happy Marriage

Hours are Time’s shafts, and one comes winged with death.
– found on the clock at Keir House, near Dunblane, Scotland

It is astonishing what a lot of odd minutes one can catch during the day, if one really sets about it.
Dinah Maria Mulock

I confess I do not believe in time. I like to fold my magic carpet, after use, so as to superimpose one part of the pattern upon another. Let visitors trip. Vladimir Nabokov

I think about my mother singing after lunch on a Summer afternoon, twirling in blue dress across the floor of her dressing room.
Audrey Niffenegger

I am just going outside and may be some time. Captain Lawrence Oates 1880-1912, English Polar explorer, Last words, in Scott’s Last Expedition 1913 (Scott’s diary entry 16-17 March 1912, as Oates, suffering from gangrene left the tent to die, leaving the precious provisions for the remaining party, who nod understandingly)

The clock talked loud. I threw it away, it scared me what it talked. Tillie Olsen

For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.
Arthur William Edgar O’Shaughnessy, We are the Music Makers

Time, the devourer of everything. Ovid (Publius Ovidius, Naso)

Neither will the wave which has passed be called back; nor can the hour which has gone by return.
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), Ars Amatoria

Heaven makes sport of human affairs, and the present hour gives no sure promise of the next.
Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso), Epistoloe Ex Ponto

And now listen carefully. You in others-this is your soul. This is what you are. This is what your consciousness has breathed and lived on and enjoyed throughout your life-your soul, your immortality, your life in others. And what now? You have always been in others and you will remain in others. And what does it matter to you if later on that is called your memory? This will be you-the you that enters the future and becomes a part of it.
Boris Pasternak

Remembering is a great invention of the mind, and if you try hard enough you can remember anything, whether it really happened or not.
Rodman Philbrick

Keeping time time time In a sort of Runic rhyme. Edgar Allan Poe

Ye Gods! annihilate but space and time. Alexander Pope

A good holiday is one spent among people whose notions of time are vaguer than yours. John B. Priestly

In search of lost time. Marcel Proust

How we spend our time is how we create ourselves. Marcel Proust

Time contains within it a rhythm of death beneath an appearance of life.
Henri-Charles Puech

Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance, when you’re perfectly free.

Both in thought and in feeling, even though time be real, to realise the unimportance of time is the gate of wisdom. Bertrand Russell

I always think everything is going to last forever, but nothing ever does. In fact nothing exists longer than an instant except the thing that we hold in memory.
Sam Savage

Why? Why does what was beautiful suddenly shatter in hindsight because it concealed dark truths? Why does the memory of years of happy marriage turn to gall when our partner is revealed to have had a lover all those years? Because such a situation makes it impossible to be happy? But we were happy! Sometimes the memory of happiness cannot stay true because it ended unhappily. Because happiness is only real if it lasts forever? Because things always end painfully if they contained pain, conscious or unconscious, all along? But what is unconscious, unrecognized pain?
Bernhard Schlink

Besmeared with sluttish time.
William Shakespeare

The spirit of time will teach me speed.
William Shakespeare

Time hath, my Lord, a wallet at his back, Wherein he put alms for oblivion.
William Shakespeare

Old Time the clock-setter, that bald sexton, Time.
William Shakespeare

What seest thou else, In the dark backward and abysm of time? William Shakespeare

When in the chronicle of wasted time.
William Shakespeare

When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced.
William Shakespeare

Time’s thievish progress to eternity.
William Shakespeare

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.
William Shakespeare

The end crowns all, And that old common arbitrator, Time, Will one day end it.
William Shakespeare

Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant filled with odd little waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.
Lemony Snicket

Remember my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker”
Bram Stoker

We are too much of slaves to words and logic.
Daisetz Suzuki

Time with a gift of tears. Algernon Charles Swinburne

And time remembered is grief forgotten. Algernon Charles Swinburne

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. Henry David Thoreau

But meanwhile it is flying, irretrievable time is flying. Virgil (Publius Vergilius Maro)

Time like an ever rolling stream, Bears all it’s sons away. Isaac Watts

Suffering is one very long moment.
Oscar Wilde

Time is the longest distance between two places. Tennessee Williams

The scene is memory and is therefore non-realistic. Memory takes a lot of poetic license. It omits some details; others are exaggerated, according to the emotional value of the articles it touches, for memory is seated predominately in the heart.
Tennessee Williams

It flattered her, where she was most susceptible of flattery, to think how, wound about in their hearts, however long they lived she would be woven…
Virginia Woolf

The innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time. W.B Yeats

Procrastination is the thief of time. Edward Young

The words with which a child’s heart is poisoned, through malice or through ignorance, remain branded in his memory, and sooner or later, they burn his soul.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón

We seem to live in a world where forgetting and oblivion are an industry in themselves and very, very few people are remotely interested or aware of their own recent history, much less their neighbors’. I tend to think we are what we remember, what we know. The less we remember, the less we know about ourselves, the less we are.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón