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12/31/2014 09:38 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

15 Inspiring Literary Quotes That Will Start Your New Year Off Right

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Great writers don't always offer the words of undiluted inspiration we'd like; their keen insight and penchant for honesty about the human condition produces observations about our weakness, our sins or about how painful history can shadow our futures ("The past is never dead. It's not even past," as William Faulkner wrote).

The New Year, however, is no time for such dire reflections. No matter that, as Mark Twain likes to point out, "Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." Perhaps this year you will actually use your gym membership, read one nonfiction book a week, and bring a healthy lunch to work daily. A new year means you get to, nominally at least, wipe the slate clean. Forget your past failures and your life of disappointments: 2015 is going to be your year.

Fortunately, a few more optimistic, or at least more sentimental, authors have the words of encouragement you need to hear as the new year begins. Here are 15 galvanizing passages from your favorite authors, from Dickens to Dillard, on the joy of a new year and a new beginning:

“A new heart for a New Year, always!”
Charles Dickens

“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

new years party

“[T]omorrow is a new day. You shall begin it well & serenely, & with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day ... is too dear with its hopes & invitations to waste a moment on the rotten yesterdays.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Not knowing when the dawn will come
I open every door.”
Emily Dickinson

sunrise snow

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective. Unless a man starts on the strange assumption that he has never existed before, it is quite certain that he will never exist afterwards.”
G.K. Chesterton

“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.”
T.S. Eliot

winter dawn

“Isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”
L.M. Montgomery

“Each age has deemed the new-born year
The fittest time for festal cheer.”
Sir Walter Scott

new years eve

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.”
Anaïs Nin

“[I]f this life of ours
Be a good glad thing, why should we make us merry
Because a year of it is gone? but Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering 'it will be happier'...”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

new years party

“The artist is always beginning. Any work of art which is not a beginning, an invention, a discovery is of little worth.”
Ezra Pound

“The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.”
Maya Angelou

winter walk

“The beginning is the most important part of any work.”
Plato

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is -- infinite.”
William Blake

"I wake expectant, hoping to see a new thing."
Annie Dillard

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