Past, The

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Past, The



  1. Events … had receded so swiftly into the near-forgotten past, like a movie seen years before and dimly remembered —Harvey Swados
  2. The events [of the past] were astir in me, like the loosening phlegm in an attack of bronchitis, waiting to come up —L. P. Hartley
  3. Felt himself sliding … back into a bumpy past where old humiliations still waited to confront him like hills grown taller with the dust of years —Helen Hudson
  4. Going back is like lifting elephants with your teeth —Paul West
  5. He [Sherwood Anderson] carried his childhood like a hurt warm bird held to his middle-aged breast —Herbert Gold
  6. Her past years washed away like so many ridges of sand at high tide —Peter Meinke
  7. Inheritance, like grace, is something you deserve —Hollis Summers

    The inheritance being compared to grace is family achievement.

  8. It was like those years were just a ghost town she’d walked through and then decided to forget —Lee Smith
  9. Kept coming back like a song —J. W. Rider
  10. Like a ball of wool that kittens have got at … all the disposed-of process of my past unravelled on the floor —Louis MacNeice
  11. The man who has not anything to boast of but his illustrious ancestors is like a potato … the only good belonging to him is under ground —Sir Thomas Overbury
  12. Our past … clings to us like strange mystical lint —W. P. Kinsella
  13. The past … always affected her eyes like salt water. It filled her head as if she had stayed underwater too long —Susan Fromberg Schaeffer
  14. The past, as steep as stone, wider than water, like all land and ocean stretches —Archibald MacLeish
  15. Past and future lie joined like a lunatic serpent —Robert Silverberg
  16. The past … held him like a pain —Wallace Stegner
  17. The past is a bucket of ashes —Carl Sandburg
  18. The past is like a funeral gone by —Edmond Gosse
  19. The past lies like an Alp upon the mind —Delmore Schwartz
  20. Past … like a burnt book —Lynne Sharon Schwartz
  21. The past, like an inspired rhapsodist, fills the theatre of everlasting generations with her harmony —Percy Bysshe Shelley
  22. The past was drumming, like a train coming nearer and nearer, in her head —V. S. Pritchett
  23. A record as long as your arm —George Garrett

    The simile is the title of a short story.

  24. Rolled up his past like a carpet —Anon
  25. The sense of accummulated riches of time and tradition pressed past him like a crowd moving in rank after rank, through unending centuries —G. K. Chesterton
  26. Sometimes I want to go back to everything I had, as in a museum —Yehuda Amichai
  27. She wears her past like other women wear perfume —Anon ambassador about Nora Astorga of Nicaragua, New York Times Magazine, September 28, 1986

    True to form, the simile was pulled out of the article and used as the caption for the main illustration.

  28. Sloughed off my past … like a skin that shuns the light of day —Natascha Wodin
  29. The thoughts of my past life rise like the ghosts of an unquiet dream —Percy Bysshe Shelley
  30. Treated his past gingerly as if it were unfriendly to him —Jean Garrigue
  31. Where she has been, she drags behind her, heavy and slurred as the speech of the deaf —Lisa Ress
  32. Worrying about the past is like trying to make birth control pills retroactive —Joey Adams


References in classic literature ?
The response of an organism to a given stimulus is very often dependent upon the past history of the organism, and not merely upon the stimulus and the HITHERTO DISCOVERABLE present state of the organism.
They had sported in the gladsome sunshine of the present, and so had forgotten the shadowy region of the past, in the midst of which stood Grandfather's chair.
It is this glamour of the past, I suppose, that makes old folk talk so much nonsense about the days when they were young.
It was not the past when he had lived happily with his wife that troubled him.
In those days I read not only all the new books, but I made many forays into the past, and came back now and then with rich spoil, though I confess that for the most part I had my trouble for my pains; and I wish now that I had given the time I spent on the English classics to contemporary literature, which I have not the least hesitation in saying I like vastly better.
And when these little boys and girls stole forth again from the dark, mysterious mansion, they went bewildered, full of old feelings that graver people had long ago forgotten, rubbing their eyes at the world around them as if they had gone astray into ancient times, and become children of the past.
Nothing, I dare say, has been farther from your thoughts than that there had been important ties in the past which could connect your history with mine.
All property relations in the past have continually been subject to historical change consequent upon the change in historical conditions.
That he was within the boundary of Torquas, Carthoris was sure, but that there existed there such a wondrous city he never had dreamed, nor had the chronicles of the past even hinted at such a possibility, for the Torquasians were known to live, as did the other green men of Mars, within the deserted cities that dotted the dying planet, nor ever had any green horde built so much as a single edifice, other than the low-walled incubators where their young are hatched by the sun's heat.
The bridge would be there in part, at least, and so would remain the walls of many of the great edifices of the past.
The wasted arms told their sad story of the past, as she turned up the sleeves of the poor plain dress that she wore for safety's sake; but the unquenchable spirit of the woman burnt bright in her even yet.
Moreover, it has reached me, through a side wind, that she has been making inquiry for me, and dogging my footsteps, under the pretext that she wishes to pardon me, to forget the past, and to renew our acquaintance.