66 Poems about the Past to Reflect

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” wrote George Santayana, emphasizing the enduring importance of the past in shaping our future.

The power of the past to inspire, inform, and heal has been a subject of fascination for scholars, poets, and researchers.

In this collection, we delve into the enchanting realm of poems about the past, from the best and most renowned verses to shorter, inspirational poems, and those that contemplate the act of letting go.

Each one of these past poems captures the essence of memory, history, and the wisdom to inform the present.

Best Poems about the Past

Explore the most exceptional poems about the past, chosen for their ability to encapsulate the essence of memory, offering profound insights and reflections on the passage of time.

1. To the Past

       by William Cullen Bryant

Thou unrelenting Past!
Strong are the barriers round thy dark domain,
And fetters, sure and fast,
Hold all that enter thy unbreathing reign.
Far in thy realm withdrawn
Old empires sit in sullenness and gloom,
And glorious ages gone
Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb.
Childhood, with all its mirth,
Youth, Manhood, Age, that draws us to the ground,
And last, Man’s Life on earth,
Glide to thy dim dominions, and are bound.
Thou hast my better years,
Thou hast my earlier friends—the good—the kind,
Yielded to thee with tears—
The venerable form—the exalted mind.
My spirit yearns to bring
The lost ones back—yearns with desire intense,
And struggles hard to wring
Thy bolts apart, and pluck thy captives thence.
In vain—thy gates deny
All passage save to those who hence depart;
Nor to the streaming eye
Thou giv’st them back—nor to the broken heart.
In thy abysses hide
Beauty and excellence unknown—to thee
Earth’s wonder and her pride
Are gathered, as the waters to the sea;
Labours of good to man,
Unpublished charity, unbroken faith,—
Love, that midst grief began,
And grew with years, and faltered not in death.
Full many a mighty name
Lurks in thy depths, unuttered, unrevered;
With thee are silent fame,
Forgotten arts, and wisdom disappeared.
Thine for a space are they—
Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last;
Thy gates shall yet give way,
Thy bolts shall fall, inexorable Past!
All that of good and fair
Has gone into thy womb from earliest time,
Shall then come forth, to wear
The glory and the beauty of its prime.
They have not perished—no!
Kind words, remembered voices once so sweet,
Smiles, radiant long ago,
And features, the great soul’s apparent seat;
All shall come back, each tie
Of pure affection shall be knit again;
Alone shall Evil die,
And Sorrow dwell a prisoner in thy reign.
And then shall I behold
Him, by whose kind paternal side I sprung,
And her, who, still and cold,
Fills the next grave—the beautiful and young.

2. Echoes of Yesteryears

       by Maya Anthony

In the silence, if you listen close,
You’ll hear echoes, a gentle ghost,
Of laughter shared, of songs once sung,
Of tales told when we were young.

The rhythm of footsteps, once in sync,
The clink of glasses, during a drink,
Each echo, a story, a moment’s grace,
Transporting us to another place.

With closed eyes, the past we hear,
In echoes of yesteryears, so clear,
For in these sounds, distant yet near,
Our treasured memories reappear.

3. Tapestry of Time

       by Maya Anthony

Threads of memories, woven tight,
Crafting tales of day and night,
In the tapestry of time, we see,
Patterns of what was meant to be.

Golden moments, silver tears,
Woven through the passing years,
Laughter, sorrow, hope, and fear,
All find their place, both far and near.

Gaze upon this intricate art,
See the stories, play your part,
For in this tapestry so vast,
Lies the present, shaped by the past.

4. My Treasure

       by Arthur Weir

“What do you gather?” the maiden said,
Shaking her sunlit curls at me—
“See, these flowers I plucked are dead,
Ah! misery.”
“What do you gather?” the miser said,
Clinking his gold, as he spoke to me—
“I cannot sleep at night for dread
Of thieves,” said he.
“What do you gather?” the dreamer said,
“I dream dreams of what is to be;
Daylight comes, and my dreams are fled,
Ah! woe is me.”
“What do you gather?” the young man said—
“I seek fame for eternity,
Toiling on while the world’s abed,
Alone,” said he.
“What do I gather?” I laughing said,
“Nothing at all save memory,
Sweet as flowers, but never dead,
Like thine, Rosie.”
“I have no fear of thieves,” I said,
“Daylight kills not my reverie,
Fame will find I am snug abed,
That comes to me.”
“The past is my treasure, friends,” I said,
“Time but adds to my treasury,
Happy moments are never fled
Away from me.”
“All one needs to be rich,” I said,
“Is to live that his past shall be
Sweet in his thoughts, as a wild rose red,
Eternally.”

5. All My Past Life

       by Lord John Wilmot

All my past life is mine no more,
The flying hours are gone,
Like transitory dreams given o’er,
Whose images are kept in store
By memory alone.

Whatever is to come is not,
How can it then be mine?
The present moment’s all my lot,
And that as fast as it is got,
Phyllis, is wholly thine.

Then talk not of inconstancy,
False hearts, and broken vows,
Ii, by miracle, can be,
This live-long minute true to thee,
‘Tis all that heaven allows.

6. Memory’s Embrace

       by Maya Anthony

In the quiet corners of my mind,
Memories linger, intertwined,
Soft whispers of days gone by,
Laughter, tears, hellos, and goodbyes.

Moments fleeting, now set in stone,
In memory’s embrace, I’m never alone,
Glimpses of joy, shadows of despair,
All find their refuge there.

Hold them close, these fragments so vast,
For they’re the bridges to our past,
With every memory, bright or dim,
We remember where we’ve been.

7. The Deserted Cabin

       by Ruby Archer

Lone, it lingers on the mountain
With no sign or sound of life;
No sweet, happy, household cadence,
Laugh of child or song of wife.
How it stares adown the valley
With those hard and hollow eyes,
As if waiting, empty-hearted,
Hopeless, for some sweet surprise.
All the doors have broken hinges,
Rails have fallen from the fence;
High the dove-cote leans, abandoned,
Lonely birds have wandered hence.
Mosses creep through every crevice,
Sunshine bars the vacant floor,
And a yellow ox-eyed daisy
Peeps in wonder through the door.
Yonder windmill turning, turning,
In the old accustomed way,
Feels a sympathy in moving
With the winds that sigh alway:
“We have lost the waving tresses
Of a little golden head.
We can find no touch responsive.—
All but memory is dead.”

8. Echoes of Yesterday

       by Maya Anthony

Whispers of days gone by, they say,
In the echoes of yesterday,
Moments once bright and clear,
Now distant, yet forever near.

Footsteps on a forgotten shore,
Time’s dance, forevermore,
In the shadows, memories gleam,
Like stars in a long-lost dream.

Hold them close, let them fade,
For in their light, today is made,
Past’s song, so sweet and low,
Guides us where we need to go.

9. Footprints Ahead

       by Maya Anthony

Past’s footprints, fade in the sand,
While ahead, a new journey expands,
With every step, towards the unknown,
Seeds of change, freshly sown.
 
No looking back, eyes set on the morrow,
Beyond the joy, beyond the sorrow,
For ahead lies dreams, vast and wide,
Promises waiting, side by side.

Forge ahead, let the past recede,
Trust in the journey, take the lead,
For the footprints you now embed,
Pave the path where futures tread.

10. The Water Mill

       by Sarah Doudney

Oh! listen to the water mill, through all the livelong day,
As the clicking of the wheels wears hour by hour away;
How languidly the autumn wind does stir the withered leaves
As in the fields the reapers sing, while binding up their sheaves!
A solemn proverb strikes my mind, and as a spell is cast,
“The mill will never grind again with water that is past.”
The summer winds revive no more leaves strewn o’er earth and main,
The sickle nevermore will reap the yellow garnered grain;
The rippling stream flows on—aye, tranquil, deep and still,
But never glideth back again to busy water mill;
The solemn proverb speaks to all with meaning deep and vast,
“The mill will never grind again with water that is past.”
Ah! clasp the proverb to thy soul, dear loving heart and true,
For golden years are fleeting by and youth is passing too;
Ah! learn to make the most of life, nor lose one happy day,
For time will ne’er return sweet joys neglected, thrown away;
Nor leave one tender word unsaid, thy kindness sow broadcast—
“The mill will never grind again with water that is past.”
Oh! the wasted hours of life, that have swiftly drifted by,
Alas! the good we might have done, all gone without a sigh;
Love that we might once have saved by a single kindly word,
Thoughts conceived, but ne’er expressed, perishing unpenned, unheard.
Oh! take the lesson to thy soul, forever clasp it fast—
“The mill will never grind again with water that is past.”
Work on while yet the sun doth shine, thou man of strength and will,
The streamlet ne’er doth useless glide by clicking water mill;
Nor wait until to-morrow’s light beams brightly on thy way,
For all that thou canst call thine own lies in the phrase “to-day.”
Possession, power and blooming health must all be lost at last—
“The mill will never grind again with water that is past.”
Oh! love thy God and fellowman, thyself consider last,
For come it will when thou must scan dark errors of the past;
Soon will this fight of life be o’er and earth recede from view,
And heaven in all its glory shine, where all is pure and true.
Ah! then thou’lt see more clearly still the proverb deep and vast,
“The mill will never grind again with water that is past.”

11. The Old Schoolhouse

       by Ellwood Roberts

Amid the trials of the changeful Present,
The hghts and shadows that around us play,
A retrospective glance is often pleasant,
Along life’s way.
In fancy once again youth’s sunlight golden
We feel; we tread the old delightful ways
We’ve trodden oft, while on the landscape olden
We fondly gaze.
So down the well-remembered path I wander,
Each step with some bright recollection fraught:
And all the changes, as I go, I ponder,
That Time has wrought.
I reach the bridge and cross the sunny meadow,
Ascend the slope, and, just beside the door,
The lofty chestnuts see; now in their shadow
I stand, once more.
I enter, and behold, around, before me,
Each once familiar object, as of old;
And, for a moment, I forget that o’er me
Swift years have rolled.
A boy again, I strive to change the places
Of Past and Present; for a moment seem
To live again amid the dear old faces,
As in a dream.
Life’s troubles, changes, toils, seem but a vision,
As, sitting in the old, accustomed place,
Upon the world beyond, the fields Elysian,
I turn my face.
How different reality from seeming,
Since I have tasted what life had to give;
Can I have been for all these long years dreaming?
Or, did I live?
The same, and yet how changed, the scene before me!
The comrades of my youth have passed away;
I find myself—the thought comes stealing o’er me—
Alone, to-day.
How few old friends survive the thousand changes
Of half a lifetime! Thirty years have passed;
The mind down Time’s long vista, busy ranges,
With grief o’ercast.
The dear old friends have gone and left me lonely;
Teachers and schoolmates—all have passed away;
Of most a recollection lingers only;
Oh, where are they?
Alone! and all the eager aspiration
I felt in bygone years, is mine no more;
I turn away in silent meditation.
And leave the door.
I go my way, to present time returning,
While sunset’s fitful shadows hover near;
Within my heart the thought—I have been learning
A lesson here.
We cannot feel again the sunlight golden,
Although we tread the well-remembered ways;
We may not live again the moments olden
In later days.

12. Thou Knowest

       by John Hill Luther

Thou knowest all, O Teacher,
My future as well as my past;
The clouds may be drifting toward me,
The shadows gathering fast,
But with thee there is no danger:
Sunshine must come at last.
Thou knowest all, O Teacher,
How in weariness and fears
I have sought Thee, found The, heard Thee
Utter words that dried my tears,
O ’twere sin to doubt Thy goodness
After all the proofs of years.
Thou knowest all, O Teacher,
Better than my lips can tell,
How the world allures and mocks me,
And what foes within me dwell—
Knowest all; yet in my weakness
Comes the message, All is well.
Thou Knowest all, O Teacher;
Knowest when my weary feet
Shall reach the pearly gates on high;
When loved ones gone before shall greet
The chastened spirit, longing most
Thee, Oh my Prince, my Love, to meet.
Then I can wait, and waiting, watch,
And as I watch toil while I may;
For well I know He waits for me—
Nay, often meets me in the way,
Foreshadowing, as he passes by,
The glories of the latter day.

Famous Poems about the Past

Discover verses by celebrated poets that celebrate the timeless power of the past, shedding light on its significance in shaping our present and guiding our future.

1. Forth from Your Past

       by Amos Russel Wells

Forth from your lowly Past! In humble wise
Up to the highest heaven lift your eyes.
No glories that the heroes ever knew
But God has placed them waiting there for you.
Forth from your evil Past! The shame and sin—
Dare now to live as they had never been.
In Jesus cleansed and in His sureness sure,
Know that the years to come are sweet und pure.
Forth from your troubled Past! How dark the days.
How dreary and perplexed your wandering waya!
Forget those fears and tears and scenes abhorred.
And enter all the joyance of your Lord.
Forth from your lonely Past! No comrade knew
Your inner warfare for the good and true;
But in the time to come till time shall end
You shall not lack a comrade and a friend.
Forth from your Past! ‘Twas given you to build
A Future from it all with blessings filled.
Enter its open gate its liberal door,
And live its happy lord for evermore.

2. The Old Home Barn

       by Edward Henry Elwell

Yes, ’tis the same! The old home barn!
Scene of my boyhood plays;
How many memories, sweet and sad,
Rise up from those old days.
Through the open door again I ride
On hayrack heaped full high,
And toss to the mow the fragrant store,
Born of the summer sky.
I leap from the beam, and, buried deep,
Emerge with laugh and shout;
Hunt in the hay the stolen nest,
The hidden eggs seek out.
Old Dobbin neighs from behind his crib,
I hear the oxen’s tread,
The breath of the kine comes sweet to me—
But where is the colt I fed?
On the floor the hens are scratching still;
The stout farm-wagon, too, is there;
The carryall that carried all
In state to the county fair.
How rung the barn with merry glee
When the husking-bee came round,
And cheeks were aglow with blushes deep,
When the bright red ears were found.
Through the open door, across the road,
A picture framed I see,
The fields, the wood, the hills afar,
That hid the world from me.
What lay beyond I pondered deep,
A realm most fair it seemed;
And much I wished to tread its ways
Of which I long had dreamed.
I’ve wandered far; the world so wide,
That still has lured me on,
Ne’er gave to me a scene so fair
As that I gaze upon.
The old home barn, in boyhood’s days,
A pleasure palace reared;
To-day it stands a temple filled
With memories e’er endeared.
O Artist of the magic wand
Which thus recalls the past,
Your work shall hang in memory’s hall
So long as life shall last.

3. Shadows of Old

       by Maya Anthony

Shadows stretch, long and lean,
From days gone by, yet unseen,
In their dance, tales they share,
Of dreams dreamt, burdens bear.

Casting shades on present’s glow,
They speak of highs and times of woe,
Of lessons learned, paths once trod,
Guiding us, with a silent nod.

Yet, as the sun begins to rise,
Shadows fade beneath the skies,
Past’s embrace, soft and kind,
Guiding the heart, freeing the mind.

4. Reflections in the Pond

       by Maya Anthony

Upon calm waters, if you peer,
Reflections of the past appear,
Images of joy, ripples of sorrow,
Moments borrowed from tomorrow.

A face once known, a place once been,
In the pond’s mirror, they’re seen,
Gentle waves, memories flow,
Taking us to times long ago.

With every reflection, old or new,
The pond tells tales, both false and true,
For in its depth, calm and grand,
The past reaches out, taking our hand.

5. The Present

       by Adelaide Anne Procter

Do not crouch to-day, and worship
The dead Past, whose life is fled
Hush your voice in tender reverence;
Crowned he lies, but cold and dead:
For the Present reigns, our monarch,
With an added weight of hours;
Honor her, for she is mighty!
Honor her, for she is ours!
See the shadows of his heroes
Girt around her cloudy throne;
Every day the ranks are strengthened
By great hearts to him unknown;
Noble things the great Past promised,
Holy dreams, both strange and new;
But the Present shall fulfill them;
What he promised, she shall do.
She inherits all his treasures,
She is heir to all his fame,
And the light that lightens round her
Is the luster of his name;
She is wise with all his wisdom,
Living on his grave she stands,
On her brow she bears his laurels,
And his harvest in her hands.
Coward, can she reign and conquer
If we thus her glory dim?
Let us fight for her as nobly
As our fathers fought for him.
God, who crowns the dying ages,
Bids her rule, and us obey,
Bids us cast our lives before her,
Bids us serve the great To-day.

6. River of Recollection

       by Maya Anthony

The river flows, deep and wide,
Carrying tales of time and tide,
Memories dance on its crest,
In its depths, secrets rest.
 
Rippling reflections of days of yore,
Echoing laughter, love, and lore,
With every bend, a story unfolds,
Of fiery passions and nights cold.

Though waters change as they flow,
Past’s river retains its gentle glow,
Guiding us with its serene song,
In its rhythm, we belong.

7. Flickers in Time

       by Maya Anthony

Candles lit in the hall of time,
Each flame, a memory, a rhyme,
Flickers of love, joy, and pain,
Lighting up the past’s terrain.


Shadows cast by these gentle fires,
Tell tales of dreams and desires,
Each flicker, a moment held dear,
A dance of light, drawing near.

Hold onto these luminous sights,
For they brighten the darkest nights,
In each flicker, in each shine,
We remember a moment, forever mine.

8. Unburdened Flight

       by Maya Anthony

With wings outstretched, the bird soars high,
Unburdened by the weight of the sky,
Past’s chains, once tight and strong,
Now a distant, forgotten song.

Gravity’s pull, memories’ might,
Yet the bird chooses the light,
Rising above, with courage and grace,
Finding solace in open space.

Fly free, heart, embrace the sky,
Let go of regrets, don’t ask why,
For in unburdened flight, you’ll see,
The beauty of what’s meant to be.

9. Tapestry of Yore

       by Maya Anthony

In the tapestry of yore, we find,
Woven threads of every kind,
Colors bright, patterns bold,
Stories of youth, tales of old.

Each strand, a memory we keep,
Of valleys deep, mountains steep,
Golden moments, silver days,
In this tapestry, our past lays.

Gaze upon its intricate weave,
Recall the times we did believe,
For in this fabric, vast and wide,
Our cherished memories reside.

10. The Place Where I Was Born

       by James W. Whilt

There’s a little old log cabin,
And its walls have fallen down,
Snow has broken down its rafters,
Not one log that’s left is sound.
The brush obscures the doorway,
Everything looks so forlorn,
‘Tis the little old log cabin,
The place where I was born—
Briers o’errun the pathway
Which leads to the crystal spring,
That cradled the tiny brooklet
Where the oriole used to sing.
The hills are fields and pastures
Where I roamed when but a child;
It was all unbroken forest,
And it stretched out far and wild.
The meadows ran in wavelets,
When the wind so wild and free
Blew o’er their level surface
Like a green and billowy sea.
There was childhood’s shout and laughter
Within that cabin small;
But to me it was a palace,
With wide and stately hall.
Our pleasures there were sweeter
Than a rose without a thorn,
In that little old log cabin,—
The place where I was born.
Oh! the little old log cabin!
Where the air was sweet and cool,
Where our school-house was the forest,
And we went to Nature’s school;
Could I but re-trace my footsteps
Over life’s uncertain road,
Could I go back to that cabin,
Lighter far would be my load.

11. The Bells of San Blas

       by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What say the Bells of San Blas
To the ships that southward pass
From the harbor of Mazatlan?
To them it is nothing more
Than the sound of surf on the shore,—
Nothing more to master or man.
But to me, a dreamer of dreams,
To whom what is and what seems
Are often one and the same,—
The Bells of San Blas to me
Have a strange, wild melody,
And are something more than a name.
For bells are the voice of the church;
They have tones that touch and search
The hearts of young and old;
One sound to all, yet each
Lends a meaning to their speech,
And the meaning is manifold.
They are a voice of the Past,
Of an age that is fading fast,
Of a power austere and grand;
When the flag of Spain unfurled
Its folds o’er this western world,
And the Priest was lord of the land.
The chapel that once looked down
On the little seaport town
Has crumbled into the dust;
And on oaken beams below
The bells swing to and fro,
And are green with mould and rust.
“Is, then, the old faith dead,”
They say, “and in its stead
Is some new faith proclaimed,
That we are forced to remain
Naked to sun and rain,
Unsheltered and ashamed?
“Once in our tower aloof
We rang over wall and roof
Our warnings and our complaints;
And round about us there
The white doves filled the air,
Like the white souls of the saints.
“The saints! Ah, have they grown
Forgetful of their own?
Are they asleep, or dead,
That open to the sky
Their ruined Missions lie,
No longer tenanted?
“Oh, bring us back once more
The vanished days of yore,
When the world with faith was filled;
Bring back the fervid zeal,
The hearts of fire and steel,
The hands that believe and build.
“Then from our tower again
We will send over land and main
Our voices of command,
Like exiled kings who return
To their thrones, and the people learn
That the Priest is lord of the land!”
O Bells of San Blas, in vain
Ye call back the Past again!
The Past is deaf to your prayer;
Out of the shadows of night
The world rolls into light;
It is daybreak everywhere.

12. Sirens and Lights

       by Lily b. Fox

I can’t stay still but I need to be
The wires and tubes being attached to me
They tell me to stay still but I cannot hear
I’m shaking and jerking my limbs in fear
Their holding me down saying I’m okay
Yet I’m not okay because I’m feeling this way
Their rolling me into the box with the lights
Asking me my name but I can’t get it right
The sirens burning in my ears
I’m beginning to feel the tears
Yet none are mine, am I insane?
I wonder if I’m even the one in pain

Inspirational Poems about the Past

Inspirational poems about the past beckon you to reflect and learn from history. These verses are a source of guidance, offering wisdom and motivation to embrace the present with a deeper understanding.

1. Dawn of Tomorrow

       by Maya Anthony

Night’s curtain falls, stars fade away,
Releasing dreams, keeping sorrows at bay,
But with dawn’s first light, so meek and mild,
Comes the promise, for every man, woman, and child.

Past’s shadows may linger, long and deep,
Yet with sunrise, a new oath to keep,
To step into light, to embrace the day,
And let yesterday’s ghosts, simply sway.

For with every dawn, fresh and bright,
Comes a chance to set things right,
Release the past, its grip and sorrow,
And step into the promise of tomorrow.

2. Unshackled Dreams

       by Maya Anthony

Chains of yesterday, once held tight,
Now broken, in the pursuit of light,
Unshackled dreams, ready to soar,
Beyond the limits, like never before.

The weight of memories, heavy and deep,
No longer bind, no longer keep,
For in the dance of freedom and song,
We find the strength to move along.

Rise above, the old and worn,
In newfound freedom, you’re reborn,
With dreams unshackled, heart so vast,
Fly high and free from the past.

3. The Ever Living Present

       by Sean Mitchell

Can it ever be the past?
And is it ever really the future?


We live in an eternal present,
Where each moment and each action determines our destiny
Why dwell on yesterday when you can’t change it?
And why wait till tomorrow when you can make changes today?


I’ve never had a moment where I said I was in yesterday.
And I’ve never been to tomorrow.
The only time and space I know is the ever living present.
Not the past nor the future.


Every step.
Every second and measurement of time below.
Every mile I travel.
And every time conjure up a thought, just so you know.


There’s no time like the ever living present.

4. Lessons of the Past

       by Robert Longley

Whispers migrate through the halls
Responding to forgotten calls
It seems that man has come so far
Yet forgotten how to reach the stars

In days now past in years before
You have a glimpse of what’s in store
Though nothing is as it will be
Most of man must wait and see

Some can see those things today
It’s they who soon will lead the way
To take man down a different path
To flee the course of heaven’s wrath

The light of sounds return is soon
To charge the halls of sun and moon
And teach the lessons of the past
That man may reach the stars at last

5. Autumn’s Epoch

       by Philip Daniel Cook

Leaving what future will present.
Our past is in our sunken ships.

Dark skies, has autumn chills.
Lost times, has the momentum.

Autumn leaves in the willows.
So that I may wait for a moment.

Uphill. Raking the leaves,
on a forgotten autumn evening.

Swirling together by a drift.
Somehow even times are not as swift,
as I stay in this circular point.

6. Bridges to Tomorrow

       by Maya Anthony

Bridges span across time’s river,
From memories past, to dreams that quiver,
Crossing over, a journey to make,
Leaving behind, all at stake.
 
With every plank, every stone laid,
A step away from the past’s shade,
Towards the light, the promise, the glow,
Of tomorrows waiting, yet to show.

Cross the bridge, don’t look below,
Trust the path, let the past go,
For in the journey, with every sorrow,
Lie bridges leading to a brighter tomorrow.

7. Seasons of Release

       by Maya Anthony

Leaves fall, in autumn’s embrace,
Letting go, with quiet grace,
Making way for winter’s chill,
Nature teaches, bend to its will.

Snow melts, rivers rush and roar,
Washing away, what’s no more,
Spring buds bloom, fresh and new,
Life’s cycle, forever true.

With each season, nature shows,
The beauty in letting go’s throes,
Embrace the change, come what may,
For in release, life finds its way.

8. New Leaf Turned

       by Maya Anthony

In the forest of memories, dense and wild,
A single leaf, neither timid nor mild,
Turns over, fresh and green,
Seeking sunlight, yet unseen.

Old stories, etched on its veins,
Yet, new life, within it contains,
With every gust, every wind’s yearn,
A new page, a new leaf turned.

Embrace the cycle, nature’s cue,
For every end, beginnings are due,
With each leaf, crisp and unburned,
Learn to move on, with lessons learned.

9. The Present

       by Anonymous

The past haunts me like a beautiful melody,
Words that are repeated as if to avenge,
A story ended a long time ago,
Written on my heart like an endless poem.

The past is a thirst that will never be satisfied,
A trail behind me following my steps,
My life repeats but the voice becomes louder,
Bad memories pile up like the years that pass.

The present is a kindness that few people still have,
It is the sign that the past has survived all the tests,
But is the present worth the trip,
The horror that the past has left in the form of a scar.

The present, oh the beauty of waking up every morning,
To go to bed every night as tired as the next day,
The present what a gift from heaven,
Than being able to see the sun rise,
But when does the sun,
It will finally lift for me.

10. Lifeless Dream

       by Anonymous

New meaning will give us a chance
The tears of change will always be interesting
Can you look at yourself & decide on your outcome

The past events can’t be changed
Even if it makes me cry
Even if I’m living in a lie
I can’t give up on my dreams
Can I even give up on my dreams

My dreams may make me your enemy

You can live in my dreams
You can no longer allow to dream
Within a certain dream
You believe you’re not dreaming
Yet
I often notice you are trapped within the accursed dream
When you are truly compelled you will be taken

That is why I dream of myself as someone else
A doll, maybe a lightworker
I recall the past events
I remember

I love you so

Seeking, loving & improving

Just let me dream a little more

Short Poems about the Past

For a quick dive into history, these concise poems about the past capture the essence of memory and time in a compact and evocative format. Here are some short poems about the past.

1. Farewell

       by Ruby Archer

Farewell, dear fallen petals of past days.
Your bloom is perished, and ye lie
Along the windings of once trodden ways,
Nor stir as memory’s breeze flits by.

2. Tear Stains

       by John Charles McNeill

Tear-marks stain from page to page
This book my fathers left to me,—
So dull that nothing but its age
Were worth its freight across the sea.
But tear stains! When, by whom, and why?
Thus takes my fancy to its wings;
For grief is old, and one may cry
About so many things!

3. To Yesterday

       by Ruby Archer

O Yesterday, you saw him. In your warm
Sweet light we wandered idly, happily.
Unto your deep of blue his eyes were lent,
And through your moments lingered yet his voice.
Bide near me, Yesterday. You know of him;
And I may turn to you—now he is gone—
Remind you of a glance, a word, a touch,
A thousand glints of soul revealed to soul
And thus defer the thought of poor To-day.

4. The Past

       by Emily Dickinson

The past is such a curious creature,
To look her in the face
A transport may reward us,
Or a disgrace.
Unarmed if any meet her,
I charge him, fly!
Her rusty ammunition
Might yet reply!

5. The Antiquary

       by Ruby Archer

The Muse of Poetry loves all things quaint
And rare and old,—that faded, mellow paint
That only time-worn use on words bestows.
Conservative she is, far more than those
Who say, “Whatever is, is right,” for she
Declares, “Whatever was, is right for me.”

6. Quest

       by Winifred Webb

Ho all you eager travelers!
Have you some place to go
Where you forget the many things
You wish you did not know?
Forget your own insistent past
And feel just fit and free?
If you have found it, won’t you tell
Its happy name to me?

7. Dead Leaves

       by Georgia Douglas Johnson

The breaking dead leaves ‘neath my feet
A plaintive melody repeat,
Recalling shattered hopes that lie
As relics of a bygone sky.
Again I thread the mazy past,
Back where the mounds are scattered fast-
Oh! foolish tears, why do you start,
To break of dead leaves in the heart?

8. The Prairie-Schooner

       by Carl Holliday

All day the creeping caravan
Wound on its serpent-trailing way;
A thousand miles of wind-swept tan,
A thousand miles of cloudless gray.
Beneath the quivering summer-heat
The prairie-schooner creaked afar;
Some day, some time, the trail would meet
The Setting Sun, the Golden Bar.
The course is done; the servant old
Long stood in shivering rags, and gazed
Upon the mansions built of gold;
All wondering, by their splendor dazed.
The course is done; yet on and on
Beyond Time’s wavering shadow-line
The prairie-schooner long has gone,
Forsaken, lost, with ne’er a shrine.

9. Sandbox

       by Jaden Vandyke

The sandbox my dad built
Digging holes to china and back
I was a pirate, a construction worker
A new adventure every day
Adventurous, but not going anywhere
The sand like the time I left behind
Stories made up by my childish mind

10. The Old Apple Tree

       by Henry Harvey Fuson

Just beside the forest great,
Close to a path traveled a generation ago,
Stands the old apple tree to wait
The final summons to go.
Amid a new grown forest, with vines
Entwined about his stooping form,
He ever clings to life, but pines
For the good old days that are gone.
Like an old man who has spent
His allotted time in service true,
With the ranks of his generation rent
By death, in a generation that is new,
He holds to life that to him is dear
And approaches the end without fear.

11. A Sound That You Miss

       by Ahmad Nur Sidik

A pen’s gentle strokes,
Above white, forming mass,
Not so bold yet it evoke
Fine threads of the past.

Tick-tock abroad until a knock,
On the door at front shut tight locked.
Awaken cloud, pulled the knob on purple memories,
There goes the sound, the past that you miss.

Poems about the Past and Moving Forward

Exploring the past often involves the act of letting go. These poems about letting go of the past contemplate the significance of releasing history’s grip, offering a fresh start and a path toward the future.

1. Starting Over

       by Tatum

I’m trying to find something to base my life upon,
Something in this strange world that goes on and on.
As the years go by and time fades away,
What used to be “good days” are now filled with dismay.
Tomorrow comes, and then again it goes,
And my ambition to become something more grows and grows.
Around the corner, yet miles away,
The life I want now gets closer each day.
All I’ve ever wanted was something to live for.
I don’t want to be this little person anymore.
I’ve been basing my life upon what others think.
I wish I could go back and redo everything, every time an eye would blink.
I’ve fought to become who I am and what I want to be.
I have to remind myself that one day I will be free,
Free from the rules I followed as a child,
When everything was a game and life was so mild.
Now times have changed and I realize nothing is fair,
And sometimes it seems like nobody even cares.
It’s like no one pays attention to what I feel is best for me
And what I think about the way some things should be.
I understand now that I’m pretty much on my own,
And I know a lot of what I can do will never be known.
All the time I think about everything I can’t say, what I have to keep in,
And by doing this, my thoughts only get more complicated and deepen.
Soon I hope to find out who I am and what I am meant to become.
I want to know where I’m going.
I don’t need to be reminded of where I came from.

2. Start Fresh

       by Ruchi Katendra

I wanna start fresh…

and forget this place, the wicked world I live in,
but not forget how glorious and essential it was to me.

Forget the memories that make me weak and sad,
but not forget the memories that are an anchor to my strength.

Forget the people who caused me pain,
but not forget those who were with me in heavy rain.

Forget my past, mistakes, and regrets,
but not forget the lessons I learned from them.

Forget the days when I cried silently, not aloud,
but not forget the same days that make me strong.

Forget the old me, find myself and explore,
and emerge and shine as never before.

This is why
I wanna start fresh.

3. Changing the Past

       by Donna

The past is the past for a reason.
That is where it is supposed to stay,
But some cannot let it go.
In their heads it eats away

Until all their focus becomes
The person they used to be,
The mistakes they made in their life.
Oh, if only they could see

That you cannot change what happened,
No matter how hard you try,
No matter how much you think about it,
No matter how much you cry.

What happens in your lifetime
Happens for reasons unknown,
So you have to let the cards unfold.
Let your story be shown.

Don’t get wrapped up in the negative.
Be happy with what you have been given.
Live for today not tomorrow.
Get up, get out, and start living,

Because the past is the past for a reason.
It’s been, and now it is gone,
So stop trying to think of ways to fix it.
It’s done, it’s unchangeable; move on.

4. Don’t Look Back

       by Judy

Just keep on walking,
A small voice said.
Don’t dare look back.
Look straight ahead.

Yes, so many things
Have changed.
Think they’d stay
As you arranged?

Be strong and brave.
Calm your fears.
Keep that chin up.
Dry your tears.

Yes, love hurt
And broke your heart.
Keep your head
And heart apart.

Don’t cry over
What you have had.
At least you had it.
Don’t be sad.

This will be tough,
But time will heal.
Perhaps a new life
Will then reveal.

You are not new
To this whole game.
You gave your best.
You’re not to blame.

The hardest thing
There is to do
Is love someone
Who does not love you.

So is it worth it?
What’s to gain
When you love someone
Who brings you pain?

Just walk away
And stand up tall.
Count your blessings,
One and all!

5. Perfect

       by Shianne

My heart flows through this icy land.
Come and take my lonely hand.
Show me how to make things right.
Cry these tears no more tonight.

Sing this sorrowful song into the air.
Try to live without a care.
Look up at the stars in the sky.
Dry those tears from your eye.

Lift your head, bring your smiles back.
Paint your world with color instead of black.
Undo your lies, make them true.
Don’t let your anger take over you.

Open your eyes, what do you see?
There’s so many things that you could be
If instead of thinking, you actually tried
And forgot about the tears you cried.

You could be living in a world of hope
And letting go, learning how to cope.
With everything life throws your way
And living your fullest every day.

You can force the shadows back to the dark.
Leave without a single scratch or mark.
You can learn to live without your pain,
Without putting yourself through this strain.

You can learn all this if you only realize
It only matters what perfect is in your eyes.

6. Learning to Let Go

       by Liz Newman

Letting go doesn’t
always look how you think it will.
Sometimes it happens all at once.
Sometimes it’s in phases.
Oftentimes it requires a few tries
and heartfelt goodbyes.
Even when it’s good for you,
letting go is hard on a heart.
But like the changing seasons,
we will learn to change too.
In time, in time,
In time…

7. Pain Ends

       by Katy A. Brown

Breathe in the fresh air,
Put your mind at ease.
Let down your hair,
Let it flow in the breeze.

Let your eyes wander
To all the beauty to be seen.
If those toxic thoughts you still do ponder,
Then let out a scream.

Scream until the pain is gone,
Until you no longer feel afraid.
Open your eyes to a new dawn,
Let the darkness fade.

No longer compare yourself
Or your flaws to others’ perfections.
Take the negativity off the shelf.
Focus on your direction.

Pick the sadness up off the floor,
Sweep it into the wind.
Close the door on self-hatred.
Never let it back in.

For the lies it would often tell you,
You will no longer agree.
Happiness and love are what you should hold onto.
They are whom you should give the key.

Pay no attention to the toxic thoughts,
Listen to those who adore everything you are.
Overthinking was what you once were taught,
But now those thoughts you put in a jar.

Focus on your goals,
Never lose your fight.
It’s time to open new scrolls.
Everything will be all right.

8. Beyond the Horizon

       by Maya Anthony

Eyes fixed on the setting sun,
Mourning for what’s been done,
Yet beyond the horizon’s rim,
New tales and hopes begin.

Sail away from anchored grief,
Chart new waters, find relief,
For oceans vast and skies so wide,
Hold adventures, side by side.

Leave the shores of yesterday,
With winds of change, make your way,
For beyond the horizon’s glow,
Lies the peace of letting go.

9. Letting Go

       by S.C. Lourie

She was scared to let go.
She was worried that everything might fall apart.
But she felt this heaviness, every day, growing in her heart.
So she took a deep breath.
She opened her hands and let it all go.
And what’s when she saw beauty above her brow,
telling her it was now *her* time to grow.
Releasing her fears, she realised what it felt like to be free.
It felt amazing, she felt like the joyous girl
she once used to be.
The chains in her mind had lied to her, saying that they
were present to hold everything in place.
But now her wings held everything together.
It was time to fold her fears away.

10. Winds of Change

       by Maya Anthony

Gentle winds, blow away,
The remnants of yesterday,
Whisking memories that bind,
Leaving fresher trails behind.

With each gust, old leaves fall,
Clearing space, making room for all,
New dreams to plant and grow,
In the garden where hopes flow.

Embrace the winds, feel their might,
Clearing past’s fog, making future bright,
With open arms and eyes aglow,
Ride the winds, and let go.

11. Horizon’s Call

       by Maya Anthony

Beyond the memories, beyond the pain,
Lies a horizon, free from the rain,
A beckoning call, vibrant and new,
Promising vistas with a broader view.

The sun sets on what once was known,
Casting shadows on seeds once sown,
Yet, with dawn, comes a light so strong,
Guiding hearts to where they belong.

Embrace the horizon, leave past behind,
Seek the treasures you’re destined to find,
For in moving on, bold and tall,
We answer life’s ever-changing call.

Poems about the Past of Life

Poems about past life and previous existences delve into the mysteries of reincarnation and the enduring connection between our past and present, offering a glimpse into the journey of the soul.

1. Old Pages Turned

       by Maya Anthony

In the book of life, we read,
Old chapters of joy and need,
Stories written, tales spun,
Of battles lost and victories won.

Faded ink and worn-out pages,
Speak of youth and growing ages,
Love once blooming, now but a trace,
In the quiet corners of a sacred space.

Turn the pages, but do not dwell,
For life moves, as time will tell,
Embrace the present, come what might,
With lessons learned, and memories light.

2. Dystopian Heart

       by Sam Scott

The landscape has been clouded by dust
The skyline vanishes as the definition
Between the hope of sky
And the dismal reality of the ground
Pervades and creeps

The red luscious heart
Is tempered, not fully destroyed
Shadows creep in the debris
Thoughts of that past life
Flickering in the enforced dusk

Memories of suburbia
Laughing, chatting, walking
Discussing nothing
Meaning everything
Breathing in the freshest air

No dogs barking now
Some humans weeping
We have some work to do
Time may still be on our side
In the process of utopian restoration

3. A Second Chance

       by Harmony Lane

Looking back down upon the world from magnificent twilight skies
Makes me wonder if more could have come forth from my life
What is taken for granted is what impacts most on already burdened souls
I’ll beg, I’ll plea, I’ll get down on my knees, to be gifted to return

A second chance is often too late to change what has been done
Fixing the past is an impossible feat when the present is already in ruin
Time feels so infinite when you’re living through it in bliss
But the whole world can topple in just a matter of moments

Dreams may always stay dreams if you stop moving forward
Becoming stagnant is the enemy of progress, the crippler of motivation
Compliance cannot be accepted, it must be pushed through by force
So that even the constellations above may be attained in time

What can be done when it is too late to tell your story?
When you can change nothing anymore, but must rely on legacy present
How there would be such an urge to scream, to cry out
As a ghost, forever tortured to see a past life incomplete

When all the memories of yourself have been forgotten
Is when death in this world is truly claimed final
For so long as you live in the hearts of those who remain
You are still alive in the world that never stops turning

Death may come at any time, without us having any foresight
The scariest thoughts that haunt our minds, brought forth to light
That we could be erased without a second chance to be gifted
And existence would cease, the timeline a string to be cut

Nothing we can fathom is forever, but blips in time
The never-ending clock that marches forward with or without
So we strive for meaning and legacy to be carried on
Before turning into stardust and returning to the void

4. The Past

       by Jerry Brotherton

A loving place where I did once dwell
but will never be allowed to return
You are the spring that feeds the stories I tell
the keeper of the things that I have learned

Each step I take is filled with memories
from a life that I once knew
Every smell from flower and tree
pulls my thoughts back to you

There in those backyards of my memories
I recall my pledge from so long ago
That I will remain open and free
and cling to youth and never let go

5. Turn Back the Clocks

       by Teres Dana

If only I could turn back the clocks
dive into the green from the past
look into beloved eyes one more time
drink the breath of the last spring

to answer all of the questions remain
that were hanging on my lips infinite
hold back the fear and pain
and believe in the two of us again..

find what had been missed in space
do the calculations with myself
with the past summer get choked up again
raindrops weave with colors of rainbow
the day from yesterday would glow differently

with a clear eye to look at today
the river of life would have a different run
l’m lost over space in time, I guess…
if only one could go back to the past…

6. The Music Box

       by Kim Rodrigues

The melodic tinkle of the music box moved her.
She arose with her pretty tresses and floor length silk
toward the shadows that possess treasures of death.
Like a grandfather clock with metal prongs and teeth
it plays a lovely song that draws the gothic lass
into the abyss. Her temporal time harnessed
by a young girl’s dreamy track, “dum, dum, dum,
da, da, da, dum, dum…” In reminiscent fog
of childhood, Cassandra moves with the innocence
of a toddler, with the outward aplomb of a zombie.
When, at last, she is in the spiderweb, her senses
come around. She still can’t flee and the shadow
becomes a man, a thing, unthinkable – she recognizes
his hypnotic countenance, his eyes an unimaginable blue,
his face paler than a ghostly child, his cape – a shroud
about his shoulders. He hums, “dum, dum, dum,
da, da, da, dum, dum…” A guttural scream, she
recognizes vibrates from her own lips. The monster
allows the chase and caterwaul within his space.
Melancholy and madness, take hold, as her neck is bared
and she becomes one of the undead. Only released
from the melody’s hold, when she she sinks her teeth
into an innocent victim, but alas, she also is reminded
of her past life, so cold, she weeps. The progenitor laughs.

7. Intrusive

       by Angelica Tao

I think these thoughts…
Are part of some past life.
From a life that is vivid.
From a life where I did something horrible.
The knowledge which haunts me.
The things I had done, but when I tell them the truth…
They think I’m crazy!
They try to tell me I’m a good person.
Which makes me laugh for a moment.
Taking a break from those thoughts.
Taking a break from being lonely.
Until I’m in my quiet house, once again.
Away from those friends who are too kind.

8. I Embrace My Beautiful Pieces

       by Michelle Morris

I embrace my beautiful pieces
Whether they are seen or unseen by you
I am healing from my past life
From the pieces you broke in two

My healing is a process
My life path is my own
I’ve survived unfairness and trauma
I’ve survived pain and blood and bone

My disappointments and expectations
Are mine to deal with daily
I clap for my beautiful pieces
Cheer for my survival and aspirations

In silent moments of contemplation
My prayers and meditations are truth
My soul is lifted higher
My enlightenment is on the move

I deserve love and kindness
Compassion, peace and light
Like everyone else on the planet
We’re better when we pray for what’s right

I have reverence for my loved ones
I appreciate my joy and blessings
My soul lessons are still being learned
It’s all part of Heaven’s testing

God and His Angels guide me
Each and every day
They help me embrace my beautiful pieces
And deal with every life lesson attained

I thank them for Their protection
Their mercy, love and grace
For the unconditional acceptance
Of my beautiful soul’s healing process

I’ll embrace my beautiful pieces
I’ll embrace my beautiful soul
For I belong to God’s Universe
And forever I’ll shine with hope

9. I Saw Your Portrait in the Face of a Stranger

       by Ethan Klastaitas

It was in smudged oil pastel;
Soft to the glare and rough to the delicate brush of flesh.
In your eyes were the starry night skies that Van Gogh never let go.
But above all: your gait, your stride, your purposeful amble held the life I used to know.

His face moulded like clay;
And how I remember the faces he pulled,
That could even make Mona Lisa give us a smile.
Now that I see his profile set in stone I realise da Vinci can’t ever resurrect a faint hint of the face I used to know.

It’s just like he said – the melting clocks.
Dripping, gathering, forming into black pyramids of every thought he ever had.
I wonder whether a face saves the user of its past life;
Or is it like Picasso always said?

The portrait split into a million faces of every person who wore it.
One in chalk, one in charcoal and a luminous one blotted by a felt tip pen.
In every one of these is the face of you that passes in the streets and carves a river through my cheek.
I know only one of you exists in the portrait but I have to say, from far away, in a world that I cannot view,
I spied on you and swear I glimpsed the face of the man I used to know.

10. Would That My Mind Were Anterograde Too

       by Anonymous

when a nail grows out
the root forgets
distance waives
the urge to shed

show the earth what festers
in the bladder of this mind
I am in want of decay
a half grown, grudge-bearing child

gouge out the eyeballs
of this land for me
so it sees more than the soles of my feet
place them in my skull
as they roll around
terrene gum balls in a faulty machine
can you see
can you see
I am just a memory

Final Thoughts

How have these poems about the past touched your heart or inspired you to reflect on your own history?

Just as history serves as a guidepost for the present, past poems can be a source of solace, wisdom, and enlightenment.

In the words of William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

The echoes of history continue to resonate in the present, and in the realm of poetry, the past is a timeless wellspring of reflection and understanding.

As we come to the end of this beautiful voyage about past, we would love for you to leave your views in the comments box below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button