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Quoting the New Year and lessons from the past

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us,” once said American author Hal Borland. New Year’s for him was simply an extension of the previous year. The New Year – and what it brings with it – can be interpreted in many different ways.

For many, this is a time of reflection and celebration, and in anticipation of the New Year, we have compiled a list of historical quotes pertaining to new beginnings, a new era, or a clean slate.

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“The year which is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.”

Abraham Lincoln, US President (1809–65)

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“This is the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three hundred and sixty-four.”

Mark Twain, American writer (1835–1910)

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“Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

– Alfred, Lord Tennyson, English poet (1809–92)

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“Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst…
Hark, it’s midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!

“Across East River in the night
Manhattan is ablaze with light.
No shadow dares to criticize
The popular festivities.
Hard liquor causes everywhere
A general détente, and Care
For this state function of Good Will
Is diplomatically ill;
The Old Year dies a noisy death.”

Ogden Nash, American humorist (1902–71)

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“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols.”

– Thoman Mann, German novelist (1875–1955)

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“The ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.”

Winston Churchill, British politician and statesman (1874–1965)

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“It has ever been, and ever will be, permitted to issue words stamped with the mint-mark of the day. As forests change their leaves with each year’s decline, and the earliest drop off: so with words, the old race dies, and like the young of human kind, the new-born bloom and thrive.”

Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus), Roman poet (65–8 BC)

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“When daffodils begin to peer,
With heigh! the doxy, over the dale,
Why, then comes in the sweet o’ the year.”

William Shakespeare, English dramatist (1564–1616)

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“Men ever had, and ever will have leave,
To coin new words well suited to the age:
Words are like leaves, some wither every year,
And every year a younger race succeeds.”

– Wentworth Dillon, Lord Roscommon, Irish poet and critic (1633–85)

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“Youth is when you are allowed to stay up late on New Year’s Eve. Middle age is when you are forced to.”

– Bill Vaughan, American columnist (1915–77)

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“Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

– Mark Twain, American writer (1835–1910)

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Featured image credit: “Notebook” by Pexels. CC0 Public Domain via Pixabay

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