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Regret for time wasted can become a power for good in the time that remains, if we will only stop the waste and the idle, useless regretting.
- Arthur Brisbane
Keen were his pangs, but keener far to feel,
He nursed the pinion, which impell'd the steel.
- Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron),
English Bards and Scotch Reviewers
We often regret we did not do otherwise, when that very otherwise would, in all probability, have done for us.
- Charles Caleb Colton
Regrets over the past should chasten the future.
- James Ellis
One of the sweetest pleasures of a woman is to cause regret.
- Paul Gavarni (pseudonym of Supice Guillaume Chevalier)
Thou wilt lament
Hereafter, when the evil shall be done
And shall admit no cure.
- Homer ("Smyrns of Chios"), The Iliad
(bk. IX, l. 308), (Bryant's translation)
When I remember something which I had,
But which is gone, and I must do without,
I sometimes wonder how I can be glad,
Even in cowslip time when hedges sprout;
It makes me sigh to think on it,--but yet
My days will not be better days, should I forget.
- Jean Ingelow
The business of life is to go forward; he who sees evil in prospect meets it in his way, and he who catches it by retrospection turns back to find it. That which is feared may sometimes be avoided, but that which is regretted to-day may be regretted again to-morrow.
- Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature")
No simple word
That shall be uttered at our mirthful board,
Shall make us sad next morning; or affright
The liberty that we'll enjoy to-night.
- Ben Jonson, Epigram CI
Hopes and regrets are the sweetest links of existence.
- Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Mrs. George MacLean)
O lost days of delight, that are wasted in doubting and waiting!
O lost hours and days in which we might have been happy!
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,
Tales of a Wayside Inn
(pt. III, The Theologian's Tale, Elizabeth)
There is an aching that is worse than any pain.
- George MacDonald
The present only is a man's possession; the past is gone out of his hand wholly, irrevocably. He may suffer from it, learn from it,--in degree, perhaps, expiate it; but to brood over it is utter madness.
- Dinah Maria Mulock (used pseudonym Mrs. Craik)
Why is it that a blessing only when it is lost cuts as deep into the heart as a sharp diamond? Why must we first weep before we can love so deeply that our hearts ache?
- Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (Johann Paul Richter) (used ps. Jean Paul)
For who, alas! has lived,
Nor in the watches of the night recalled
Words he has wished unsaid and deeds undone.
- Samuel Rogers, Reflections (l. 52)
A wrong act followed by just regret and thoughtful caution to avoid like errors, makes a man better than he would have been if he had never fallen.
- Horatio Seymour
Could not all this flesh keep in a little life? Poor Jack, farewell! I could have better spared a better man.
- William Shakespeare
Let us not burthen our remembrance with a heaviness that's gone.
- William Shakespeare
I could have better spared a better man.
- William Shakespeare,
King Henry the Fourth, Part I
(Prince Henry at V, iv)
Something will be gathered from the tablets of the most faultless day for regrets.
- Lydia Huntley Sigourney
Dear as remembered kisses after death,
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feigned
On lips that are for others; deep as love,
Deep as first love; and wild with all regret;
O death in life! the days that are no more.
- Lord Alfred Tennyson
It is folly to shiver over last year's snow.
- Archbishop Richard Whately
Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
The saddest are these: "It might have been!"
- John Greenleaf Whittier