Memory

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Badness of memory every one complains of, but nobody of the want of judgment. ~ François de La Rochefoucauld

Memory is the human faculty by which past events and information are remembered.

Sections for quotes alphabetized by author or work
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations · External links

A[edit]

  • Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.
  • Reg, as he insisted on being called, had a memory that he himself had once compared to the Queen Alexandra Birdwing Butterfly in that it was colorful, flitted prettily hither and thither, and was now, alas, almost completely extinct.
  • Not the power to remember, but its very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence.

B[edit]

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.
  • God gave us memories that we might have roses in December.
  • Memories are like flagstones, time and distance work upon them like drops of acid.
    • Ugo Betti, Delitto all’isola delle Capre, 1946, as translated by Henry Reed, 1961.
  • A baby is expected. A trip is expected. News is expected. Forgetfulness is expected. An invitation is expected. Hope is expected. But memories are not expected. They just come.
  • Memory is the storehouse in which the substance of our knowledge is treasured up.
  • I am a miser of my memories of you
    And will not spend them.
    • Witter Bynner, Coins, in The Beloved Stranger: Two Books of Song & a Divertisement for the Unknown Lover, 1919.

C[edit]

  • A happy childhood can't be cured. Mine'll hang around my neck like a rainbow, that's all, instead of a noose.
  • To live in hearts we leave behind
    Is not to die.
  • Memory is the thing you forget with.
    • Alexander Chase, Perspectives, 1966.
  • It is therefore necessary that memorable things should be committed to writing, (the witness of times, the light and the life of truth,) and not wholly betaken [i.e., committed] to slippery memory which seldom yields a certain reckoning.
    • Edward Coke, Les Reports de Edward Coke (1660), vol. 1, p. 3. Spelling modernized.
  • The sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.
    • Thalassa Cruso, To Everything There is a Season, 1973.
  • The present is nothing else than the sum of what one perceives, remembers and hopes for.
    • Fausto Cercignani in: Brian Morris, Simply Transcribed. Quotations from Writings by Fausto Cercignani, 2014, quote 56.

D[edit]

  • One need not be a Chamber - to be Haunted -
    One need not be a House -
    The Brain has Corridors - surpassing
    Material Place -

E[edit]

  • Vague memories hang about the mind like cobwebs.
  • μεταβάλλει δυσδαιμονία:
τὸ δὲ μετ᾽ εὐτυχίας κακοῦ-
σθαι θνατοῖς βαρὺς αἰών.
  • English: Misery changes; life is hard for mortals, when they are treated badly after happiness. (trans. Robert Potter, 1938)
  • Euripides, Iphigenia in Taurus, line 1,121.

F[edit]

  • We have all forgot more than we remember.

G[edit]

  • Remembrance wakes with all her busy train,
    Swells at my breast, and turns the past to pain.
  • Where'er I roam, whatever realms to see,
    My heart untravell'd fondly turns to thee;
    Still to my brother turns, with ceaseless pain,
    And drags at each remove a lengthening chain.

H[edit]

  • We can remember minutely and precisely only the things which never really happened to us.
    • Eric Hoffer, "Thoughts of Eric Hoffer", Including: 'Absolute Faith Corrupts Absolutely,'" The New York Times Magazine (April 25, 1971), p. 55, 57.

I[edit]

J[edit]

K[edit]

  • Memory is merely the process of tuning into vibrations that have been left behind in space and time.

L[edit]

M[edit]

  • Certainly it is one of the most blessed things about "the faith that is in Christ Jesus," that it makes a man remember his own sinfulness with penitence, not with pain — that it makes the memory of past transgressions full of solemn joy, because the memory of past transgressions but brings to mind the depth and rushing fullness of that river of love which has swept them all away as far as the east is from the west. Oh, my brother, you cannot forget your sins; but it lies within your own decision whether the remembrance shall be thankfulness and blessedness, or whether it shall be pain and loss forever.
    • Alexander Maclaren, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, 1895, p. 408.
  • My friend, picture to yourself this — a human spirit shut up with the companionship of its forgotten and dead transgressions! There is a resurrection of acts as well as of bodies. Think what it will be for a man to sit surrounded by that ghastly company, the ghosts of his own sins! and as each forgotten fault and buried badness comes, silent and sheeted, into that awful society, and sits itself down there, think of him greeting each with the question, "Thou too? What! are ye all here? Hast tl1ou found me, O mine enemy?" and from each bloodless, spectral lip there tolls out the answer, the knell of his life," I have found thee, because thou hast sold thyself to work evil in the sight of the Lord."
    • Alexander Maclaren, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, 1895, p. 408.
  • … and what you are left with is a premonition of the way your life will fade behind you, like a book you have read too quickly, leaving a dwindling trail of images and emotions until all you can remember is a name.
  • A strong memory is commonly coupled with infirm judgement.
  • What thousands and millions of recollections there must be in us! And every now and then one of them becomes known to us; and it shows us what spiritual depths are growing in us, what mines of memory.
    • William Mountford, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, 1895, p. 407.

N[edit]

O[edit]

P[edit]

  • Things are revealed through the memories we have of them. Remembering a thing means seeing it—only then—for the first time.
    • Cesare Pavese, Il mestiere di vivere: Diario 1935–1950, 28 January 1948.
  • If you wish to forget anything on the spot, make a note that this thing is to be remembered.
  • The pure memories given
    To help our joy on earth, when earth is past,
    Shall help our joy in heaven.
    • Margaret Junkin Preston, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 407.

Q[edit]

  • It is notorious that the memory strengthens as you lay burdens upon it, and becomes trustworthy as you trust it.

R[edit]

  • Thou first, best friend that Heav'n assigns below
    To sooth and sweeten all the cares we know
  • Sweet Memory! wafted by thy gentle gale,
    Oft up the stream of Time I turn my sail.

S[edit]

  • Women and elephants never forget an injury.
    • Saki, Reginald in Russia and Other Sketches, 1910.
    • A variant: Women and elephants never forget - Dorothy Parker, Ballad of Unfortunate Animals, in Death and Taxes, 1931.
  • Memory itself is an internal rumour.
  • I have the most ill-regulated memory. It does those things which it ought not to do and leaves undone the things it ought to have done.
  • Though yet of Hamlet, our dear brother's death,
    The memory be green.
  • Remember thee!
    Yea, from the table of my memory
    I'll wipe away all trivial fond records.
  • Die two months ago, and not forgotten yet? Then there's hope a great man's memory may outlive his life half a year.
  • I cannot but remember such things were,
    That were most precious to me.
  • If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings, and the widow weeps... ...An hour in clamour and a quarter in rheum.
  • I count myself in nothing else so happy
    As in a soul rememb'ring my good friends;
    And, as my fortune ripens with thy love,
    It shall be still thy true love's recompense.
  • Looking on the lines
    Of my boy's face, my thoughts I did recoil
    Twenty-three years; and saw myself unbreech'd,
    In my green velvet coat, my dagger muzzled,
    Lest it should bite its master, and so prove,
    As ornaments oft do, too dangerous.
  • Reminiscences make one feel so deliciously aged and sad.
  • The Right Honourable Gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests, and to his imagination for his facts.
    • Richard Brinsley Sheridan, reply in the House of Commons. Thomas Moore, Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 3d ed. (1825), vol. 2, chapter 21, p. 471. "A curious instance of the care with which he treasured up the felicities of his wit appears in the use he made of one of those epigrammatic passages … which, in its first form, ran thus:—'He certainly has a great deal of fancy, and a very good memory; but, with a perverse ingenuity, he employs these qualities as no other person does—for he employs his fancy in his narratives, and keeps his recollection for his wit:—when he makes jokes, you applaud the accuracy of his memory, and 'tis only when he states his facts that you admire the flights of his imagination.' "After many efforts to express this thought more concisely, and to reduce the language of it to that condensed and elastic state, in which alone it gives force to the projectiles of wit, he kept the passage by him patiently some years,—till he at length found an opportunity of turning it to account, in a reply, I believe, to Mr. Dundas, in the House of Commons, when, with the most extemporaneous air, he brought it forth, in the … compact and pointed form [above] (p. 471).
  • A man's real possesion is his memory. In nothing else is he rich, in nothing else is he poor.

T[edit]

W[edit]

  • When comparing human memory and computer memory it is clear that the human version has two distinct disadvantages. Firstly, as indeed I have experienced myself, due to ageing, human memory can exhibit very poor short term recall.
  • Memory, then, is a necessary part of the logical faculty. … The proposition A = A must have a psychological relation to time, otherwise it would be At1 = At2.
  • But how is Mneme dreaded by the race,
    Who scorn her warnings and despise her grace?
    By her unveil'd each horrid crime appears,
    Her awful hand a cup of wormwood bears.
    Days, years mispent, O what a hell of woe!
    Hers the worst tortures that our souls can know.
    • Phillis Wheatley, "On Recollection", Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, 1773.
  • Out of the cradle endlessly rocking,
    Out of the mocking-bird’s throat, the musical shuttle,
    Out of the Ninth-month midnight,
    Over the sterile sands, and the fields beyond, where the child, leaving his bed, wander’d alone, bare-headed, barefoot,
    Down from the shower’d halo,
    Up from the mystic play of shadows, twining and twisting as if they were alive,
    Out from the patches of briers and blackberries,
    From the memories of the bird that chanted to me,
    From your memories, sad brother—from the fitful risings and fallings I heard,
    From under that yellow half-moon, late-risen, and swollen as if with tears,
    From those beginning notes of sickness and love, there in the transparent mist,
    From the thousand responses of my heart, never to cease,
    From the myriad thence-arous’d words,
    From the word stronger and more delicious than any,
    From such, as now they start, the scene revisiting,
    As a flock, twittering, rising, or overhead passing,
    Borne hither—ere all eludes me, hurriedly,
    A man—yet by these tears a little boy again,
    Throwing myself on the sand, confronting the waves,
    I, chanter of pains and joys, uniter of here and hereafter,
    Taking all hints to use them—but swiftly leaping beyond them,
    A reminiscence sing.
    • Walt Whitman, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking, from Leaves of Grass, 1860 edition.
  • Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.
  • In memory everything seems to happen to music.
  • The vapours linger round the Heights,
    They melt, and soon must vanish;
    One hour is theirs, nor more is mine,—
    Sad thought, which I would banish,
    But that I know, where'er I go,
    Thy genuine image, Yarrow!
    Will dwell with me,—to heighten joy,
    And cheer my mind in sorrow.

X[edit]

Y[edit]

Z[edit]

  • Memory is so corrupt that you remember only what you want to; if you want to forget about something, slowly but surely you do

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 506-09.
  • Far from our eyes th' Enchanting Objects set,
    Advantage by the friendly Distance get.
    • Alexis, A poem against Fruition, from Poems by Several Hands (Pub. 1685).
  • I do perceive that the old proverb be not alwaies trew, for I do finde that the absence of my Nathaniel doth breede in me the more continuall remembrance of him.
  • Out of sighte, out of mynde.
    • Quoted as a saying by Nathaniel Bacon. In Private Correspondence of Lady Cornwallis, p. 19. Googe. Title of Eclog.
  • Tell me the tales that to me were so dear,
    Long, long ago, long, long ago.
  • Oh, I have roamed o'er many lands,
    And many friends I've met;
    Not one fair scene or kindly smile
    Can this fond heart forget.
  • Friends depart, and memory takes them
    To her caverns, pure and deep.
  • Out of mind as soon as out of sight.
  • The mother may forget the child
    That smiles sae sweetly on her knee;
    But I'll remember thee, Glencairn,
    And all that thou hast done for me!
  • Yet how much less it were to gain,
    Though thou hast left me free,
    The loveliest things that still remain,
    Than thus remember thee.
    • Lord Byron, And Thou art Dead as Young and Fair.
  • To live in hearts we leave behind,
    Is not to die.
  • When promise and patience are wearing thin,
    When endurance is almost driven in,
    When our angels stand in a waiting hush,
    Remember the Marne and Ferdinand Foch.
  • Though sands be black and bitter black the sea,
    Night lie before me and behind me night,
    And God within far Heaven refuse to light
    The consolation of the dawn for me,—
    Between the shadowy burns of Heaven and Hell,
    It is enough love leaves my soul to dwell
    With memory.
  • Les souvenirs embellissent la vie, l'oubli seul la rend possible.
    • Remembrances embellish life but forgetfulness alone makes it possible.
    • General Enrico Cialdini, written in an album.
  • Memoria est thesaurus omnium rerum e custos.
    • Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.
    • Cicero, De Oratore, I. 5.
  • Vita enim mortuorum in memoria vivorum est posita.
    • The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.
    • Cicero, Philippicæ, IX. 5.
  • Oh, how cruelly sweet are the echoes that start
    When Memory plays an old tune on the heart!
    • Eliza Cook, Journal, Volume IV. Old Dobbin, Stanza 16.
  • What peaceful hours I once enjoy'd!
    How sweet their memory still!
    But they have left an aching void
    The world can never fill.
  • Don't you remember, sweet Alice, Ben Bolt?
    Sweet Alice, whose hair was so brown;
    Who wept with delight when you gave her a smile,
    And trembl'd with fear at your frown!
  • Memory [is] like a purse,—if it be over-full that it cannot shut, all will drop out of it. Take heed of a gluttonous curiosity to feed on many things, lest the greediness of the appetite of thy memory spoil the digestion thereof.
    • Thomas Fuller, The Holy State and the Profane State (1642), Book III. Of Memory.
  • By every remove I only drag a greater length of chain.
  • A place in thy memory, Dearest!
    Is all that I claim:
    To pause and look back when thou hearest
    The sound of my name.
  • Fer from eze, fer from herte,
    Quoth Hendyng.
    • Hendyng, Proverbs, manuscripts (c. 1320).
  • So may it be: that so dead Yesterday,
    No sad-eyed ghost but generous and gay,
    May serve you memories like almighty wine,
    When you are old.
  • I remember, I remember,
    The house where I was born,
    The little window where the sun
    Came peeping in at morn;
    He never came a wink too soon,
    Nor brought too long a day,
    But now, I often wish the night
    Had borne my breath away!
  • Where is the heart that doth not keep,
    Within its inmost core,
    Some fond remembrance hidden deep,
    Of days that are no more?
  • And when he is out of sight, quickly also is he out of mind.
  • Badness of memory every one complains of, but nobody of the want of judgment.
  • Tho' lost to sight to mem'ry dear
    Thou ever wilt remain.
    • George Linley, Though Lost to Sight. First line found as an axiom in Monthly Magazine, Jan., 1827. Horace F. Cutler published a poem with same refrain, calling himself "Ruthven Jenkyns," crediting its publication in a fictitious magazine, Greenwich Mag. for Marines, 1707. (Hoax.) It appeared in Mrs. Mary Sherwood's novel, The Nun. Same idea in Pope—Epistle to Robert, Earl of Oxford, and Earl Mortimer. "Though lost to sight to memory dear / The absent claim a sigh, the dead a tear." Sir David Dundas offered 5 shillings during his life (1799–1877) to any one who could produce the origin of this first line. See Notes and Queries, Oct. 21, 1916, p. 336. Dem Augen fern dem Herzen ewig nah'. On a tomb in Dresden, near that of Von Weber's. See Notes and Queries, March 27, 1909, p. 249.
  • I recollect a nurse called Ann,
    Who carried me about the grass,
    And one fine day a fine young man
    Came up and kissed the pretty lass.
    She did not make the least objection.
    Thinks I, "Aha,
    When I can talk I'll tell Mama,"
    And that's my earliest recollection.
  • The heart hath its own memory, like the mind,
    And in it are enshrined
    The precious keepsakes, into which is wrought
    The giver's loving thought.
  • This memory brightens o'er the past,
    As when the sun concealed
    Behind some cloud that near us hangs,
    Shines on a distant field.
  • There comes to me out of the Past
    A voice, whose tones are sweet and wild,
    Singing a song almost divine,
    And with a tear in every line.
  • Wakes the bitter memory
    Of what he was, what is, and what must be
    Worse.
  • Il se veoid par expérience, que les mémoires excellentes se joignent volontiers aux jugements débiles.
    • Experience teaches that a good memory is generally joined to a weak judgment.
    • Michel de Montaigne, Essays, I. 9.
  • To live with them is far less sweet
    Than to remember thee!
  • Oft in the stilly night
    E'er slumber's chain has bound me,
    Fond memory brings the light
    Of other days around me.
  • When I remember all
    The friends so link'd together,
    I've seen around me fall,
    Like leaves in wintry weather
    I feel like one who treads alone
    Some banquet hall deserted,
    Whose lights are fled, whose garlands dead,
    And all but he departed.
  • And the tear that we shed, though in secret it rolls,
    Shall long keep his memory green in our souls.
  • When time who steals our years away
    Shall steal our pleasures too,
    The mem'ry of the past will stay
    And half our joys renew.
  • All to myself I think of you,
    Think of the things we used to do,
    Think of the things we used to say,
    Think of each happy bygone day.
    Sometimes I sigh, and sometimes I smile,
    But I keep each olden, golden while
    All to myself.
  • Many a man fails to become a thinker for the sole reason that his memory is too good.
  • At cum longa dies sedavit vulnera mentis,
    Intempestive qui fovet illa novat.
    • When time has assuaged the wounds of the mind, he who unseasonably reminds us of them, opens them afresh.
    • Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, IV. 11. 19.
  • Impensa monumenti supervacua est: memoria nostra durabit, si vita meruimus.
    • The erection of a monument is superfluous; the memory of us will last, if we have deserved it in our lives.
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistles, IX. 19.
  • I remember, I remember
    How my childhood fleeted by,—
    The mirth of its December,
    And the warmth of its July.
  • If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.
    • Psalms. CXXXVII. 6.
  • Tho' lost to sight, within this filial breast
    Hendrick still lives in all his might confest.
    • W. Rider, in the London Magazine (1755), p. 589.
  • Hail, memory, hail! in thy exhaustless mine
    From age to age unnumbered treasures shine!
    Thought and her shadowy brood thy call obey,
    And Place and Time are subject to thy sway!
  • I have a room whereinto no one enters
    Save I myself alone:
    There sits a blessed memory on a throne,
    * There my life centres.
  • Though varying wishes, hopes, and fears,
    Fever'd the progress of these years,
    Yet now, days, weeks, and months but seem
    The recollection of a dream.
  • Still so gently o'er me stealing,
    Mem'ry will bring back the feeling,
    Spite of all my grief revealing
    That I love thee,—that I dearly love thee still.
  • Thou comest as the memory of a dream,
    Which now is sad because it hath been sweet.
  • Heu quanta minus est cum reliquis versari quam tui meminisse.
    • Ah, how much less all living loves to me,
      Than that one rapture of remembering thee.
    • The Latin is Shenstone's Epitaph to the memory of his cousin Mary Dolman, on an ornamental Urn. The translation. is by Arthur J. Munby.
  • The Right Honorable gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests and to his imagination for his facts.
    • Richard Brinsley Sheridan, attributed to him in report of a Speech in Reply to Mr. Dundas. Not found in his works but the idea exists in loose sketches for a comedy.
  • Nobis meminisse relictum.
    • Left behind as a memory for us.
    • Statius, Silvæ, Book II. 1. 55.
  • In vain does Memory renew
    The hours once tinged in transport's dye:
    The sad reverse soon starts to view
    And turns the past to agony.
  • Facetiarum apud præpotentes in longum memoria est.
    • The powerful hold in deep remembrance an ill-timed pleasantry.
    • Tacitus, Annales, V. 2.
  • The sweet remembrance of the just
    Shall flourish when he sleeps in dust.
  • A land of promise, a land of memory,
    A land of promise flowing with the milk
    And honey of delicious memories!
  • Faciam, hujus loci, dieique, meique semper memineris.
    • I will make you always remember this place, this day, and me.
    • Terence, Eunuchus, V. 7. 31.
  • For life is but a dream whose shapes return,
    Some frequently, some seldom, some by night
    And some by day, some night and day: we learn,
    The while all change and many vanish quite,
    In their recurrence with recurrent changes
    A certain seeming order; where this ranges
    We count things real; such is memory's might.
  • Memory, in widow's weeds, with naked feet stands on a tombstone.
  • Forsan et hæc olim meminisse juvabit.
    • Perhaps the remembrance of these things will prove a source of future pleasure.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), I. 203.
  • Quique sui memores alios fecere merendo.
    • These who have ensured their remembrance by their deserts.
    • Virgil, Æneid (29-19 BC), VI. 664.
  • As the dew to the blossom, the bud to the bee,
    As the scent to the rose, are those memories to me.
  • Ah! memories of sweet summer eves,
    Of moonlit wave and willowy way,
    Of stars and flowers, and dewy leaves,
    And smiles and tones more dear than they!
  • And when the stream
    Which overflowed the soul was passed away,
    A consciousness remained that it had left,
    Deposited upon the silent shore
    Of memory, images and precious thoughts,
    That shall not die, and cannot be destroyed.

External links[edit]

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