The Quote Garden ™
I dig old books. ™
Quotations about Age
Welcome to my page of quotations about age, aging, and youth. I've always been fascinated — just shy of obsessed — with time, seasons, chronobiology, aging, etc. In fact, my studies in college were focused on change across the lifespan. But even though I've been collecting these age-related quotes since I was thirteen, this page has grown a lot since my late thirties and early forties, when the subject suddenly became much more personal to me. Please enjoy your reading, and I'll keep adding entries as I tick-tock the years away reading (at arms' length) old books!
Age, toward which you draw amid the storms of life, is nothing so dreadful. Those who call it so have found all stages of life unwelcome, thanks to their mishandling of life, not to a particular age. ~Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), letter, c.1366–1367, translated by Morris Bishop, 1966
The mind of man, his brain, and nerves, are a truer index of his age than the calendar... ~Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1822, quoted in Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author by Edward John Trelawny, 1878
How stunning are the changes which age makes in a man while he sleeps! ~Mark Twain, letter to William Dean Howells, 1887 August 22nd
Spiritual age is determined by the acts which make the mornings and evenings of the soul, and not by the motions of the physical globe. The soul should have its own cycles and revolutions, presenting in turn every portion of its existence to the vivifying influence of the great source of light. ~Henry James Slack (1818–1896), The Ministry of the Beautiful, "Conversation IV: Spring-time on the Western Coast," 1850 [Lyulph speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
My son, we ought to lay up a stock of absurd enthusiasms in our youth, or else we shall reach the end of our journey with an empty heart, for we lose a great many on our way. ~Victor Cherbuliez, Samuel Brohl and Partner, 1877, translated from French (translator unspecified)
The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball. ~Doug Larson, unverified
The excesses of our youth, are drafts upon our old age, payable with interest, about thirty years after date. ~C.C. Colton, Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words; Addressed to Those Who Think, 1820 (no. LXXVI) [William Kitchiner later quoted this as "twenty years." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
The mind, as you age,
Is an artist, it seems.
Monet paints your mem'ries,
Picasso your dreams.
~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
The three ages of man: school tablet, aspirin tablet, and stone tablet. ~Author unknown, quoted by Larry Wolters, 1969
If you would keep young: be cheerful, keep working, and love one another. ~Fanny J. Crosby [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
To remain always young, we need only do at every age what harmonises with it. ~Max Nordau (1849–1923), "The Art of Growing Old," How Women Love and Other Tales (Soul Analysis), translated from the German by an unnamed translator, 1896
I admit that I am an old man. I read my years in my mirror, others read them on my brow. ~Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), letter, c.1366–1367, translated by Morris Bishop, 1966
The blessed memories of old age are as likely to be middle-aged as youthful. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "De Senectute," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940
O murmuring heart! thy pleasures may decay,
Thy faith grow cold, thy golden dreams take wing;
Still in the realm of faded youth and joy,
Heaven kindly leaves some bird of hope to sing.
~Albert Laighton (1829–1887), "In the Woods," c.1859
The nightmare illusion of middle age, the bear's hug of custom gradually squeezing the life out of man's soul, had not yet begun for these happy-star'd young Belgians. ~Robert Louis Stevenson, An Inland Voyage, 1878
Two things you discover when you're older and wiser — you're not actually any wiser, and behind the wrinkles, you're not any older, either. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. ~Leroy "Satchel" Paige, unverified
Youth is not a time of life; it is a state of mind; it is not a matter of rosy cheeks, red lips and supple knees; it is a matter of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions; it is the freshness of the deep springs of life... Nobody grows old merely by a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, fear, self-distrust bows the heart and turns the spirit back to dust... ~Samuel Ullman (1840–1924), "Youth," 1917, reprinted in From a Summit of Years — Four Score, 1920
Youth. The time of life that fears nothing, believes everything, suffers everything, bears everything, is happy in everything, is ignorant of everything. ~Dorothy Thompson, letter to Rose Wilder Lane, 1921, edited by William V. Holtz
Age — A youthful old. ~Felix Gregory de Fontaine (1832–1896), A Cyclopedia of the Best Thoughts of Charles Dickens, 1872
So go securely, do not delay; a harbor opens where you feared a shipwreck. ~Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), letter, c.1366–1367, translated by Morris Bishop, 1966
In youth the days are short and the years are long; in old age the years are short and the days long. ~Nikita Ivanovich Panin
Aging is millions of moments
stacked upon tumbling years
~Terri Guillemets, "Precarious," 2019
Age does not diminish the extreme disappointment of having a scoop of ice cream fall from the cone. ~Jim Fiebig, as quoted in The Reader's Digest, 1981
[I]n a man's middle years there is scarcely a part of the body he would hesitate to turn over to the proper authorities. ~E. B. White, "A Weekend with the Angels" (Interlude in a hospital during World War II)
Wrinkles should merely indicate where the smiles have been. ~Mark Twain, Following the Equator, 1897
Wrinkles are fossil smiles. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor
A long-expected guest, whose arrival always astonishes — Old age. ~Charles Searle, Look Here!, 1885
Two Summers thus passed away, and Time, that sad destroyer of youth's airy castles, seemed to have passed over them with a charmed wing. ~Edward Parmele, "A Leaf from Indian Island," 1840
There's a sore trial in middle life.... Hearts grow cold with care, and the life He gives, too often seems buried, because of the load of earthly thought above it; and then we appear to ourselves to live to this world, whilst the things of this world crowd upon us.... But where the will is stedfast, and sin withstood, the true life springs forth again as the earthly tabernacle decays. Old age is a blessed time. It gives us leisure to put off our earthly garments one by one, and dress ourselves for Heaven. ~Elizabeth Missing Sewell (1815–1906), The Experience of Life, 1852 [Spoken by Aunt Sarah. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
[S]tudy and obey those natural and moral laws whose observance will prolong our days and keep us young in heart and intellect long after the hair is silvered by the touch of time. ~W.J. Hunter, "How to Keep Young," Health Magazine, October 1899
The dreams of our early morning
Like the dew had passed away;
Our skies of gold and crimson
Had turned to cloud and gray.
In the years that lay before us,
Half seen through the distant haze,
The winters grew drearily longer
And briefer the summer days.
~Edith Palmer, "October Violets," c.1872
Some of you will perhaps be surprised — though not those who best understand that nothing is surprising in the human spirit — when I say that life never seemed so beautiful as it does now, when to many others it begins to be a burden. May God, who has brought me to this age, transport me from this vain mortal life to the true eternal life, as now I prize higher one day of this ripeness than do most young man prize a year of their bloom… ~Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), letter, c.1366–1367, translated by Morris Bishop, 1966
The years teach much which the days never know. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Experience"
Then autumn comes, with its first flush of youth gone, but ripe and mellow, midway in time between youth and age, with sprinkled grey showing on the temples. ~Ovid
[A] youthful old age is the rich and mellow autumn of life... the mind is ripe in wisdom... the intellect is still active and vigorous... spiritual character has reached its full terrestrial maturity of virtue. ~W.J. Hunter, "How to Keep Young," Health Magazine, October 1899
On the other hand, as the years increase, things look smaller, one and all; and Life, which had so firm and stable a base in the days of our youth, now seems nothing but a rapid flight of moments, every one of them illusory... ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "The Ages of Life," Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891
Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many. ~Author unknown
When I was younger I could remember anything, whether it happened or not; but my faculties are decaying, now, & soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the latter. It is sad to go to pieces like this, but we all have to do it. ~Mark Twain [Also, "When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it had happened or not; but my faculties are decaying now and soon I shall be so I cannot remember any but the things that never happened." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
...that middle road of life which leads downhill all too rapidly... ~Shirley, "Mr. Disraeli's Lothair," 1870
Perhaps the greatest adventure in life is that period between the ignorance of knowledge and the knowledge of ignorance, called Middle Age. In the latitude of forty, human beings become human for the first time, and realise the impotence of being earnest. Having suffered the youthful pains of Age they enjoy the soothful pæans of agelessness.... They make up for the time lost in being young by being young, although no longer young. They are neither young nor old, callow nor sallow, foolish nor mulish, puerile nor senile, half-baked nor fully cooked. They pause in their flight, and for a moment call a strike against the tyrant Time. They are for the nonce as ageless as Julius Caesar's unformed thoughts and their emotions are as piquant as a pickled pin-cushion. Middle-age is neither muddle-age nor fuddle-age—it is the age of reason defying "reason"; the age when man sees himself as mothers see him; thin on top and plump beneath, slightly gone in wind and teeth, caring naught for looks or "lacks," out to show that "tacks is tacks." ~Kenneth Alfred Evelyn Alexander (c.1890–1953), "The I.O.U.'s Have It," in The New Zealand Railways Magazine, 1931 June 1st
Everyone is the age of their heart. ~Guatemalan proverb
There is always a lot to be thankful for, if you take the time to look. For example, I'm sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt. ~Author unknown
The first half of life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance; the last half consists of the chance without the capacity. ~Mark Twain, letter to Edward Dimmit, 1901 July 19th
It's like this. Father Time keeps pitching the years at us. We swing and miss at a few. We hit a few out of the park. We try not to take any called strikes. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
And never say you are too old. You do not say it now, perhaps; but by and by, when the hair grows gray and the eyes grow dim and the young despair comes to curse the old age, you will say: "It is too late for me." Never too late! Never too old! How old are you—thirty, fifty, eighty? What is that in immortality? ~Lyman Abbott, "Out of the Past," sermon preached in Appleton Chapel, Harvard College, Sunday evening, March 26, 1899
Once in the days of old,
Your locks were curling gold,
And mine had shamed the crow.
Now, in the self-same stage,
We've reached the silver age...
~Austin Dobson, "The Paradox of Time," 1875
When I was young, I felt GOOD 7 days in 2; but now I'm old and I think I'm doing 1st rate if I can feel good 2 days in 7. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague
There's no such thing as too late. That's why they invented death. ~Robert Nelson Jacobs, Out to Sea
It's important to have a twinkle in your wrinkle. ~Author unknown
The surest sign of age is loneliness. While one finds company in himself and his pursuits, he cannot be old, whatever his years may number. ~A. Bronson Alcott, "Fellowship," Tablets, 1868
Who does not wish to be beautiful, and clever, and rich, and to have back, in old age, the time spent trying to be any of them. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
My falling hair, my roughened skin, my snowy crown, testify that my winter has come. But I render thanks to him who watches and guides us at dawning and at evening, from childhood to decrepitude. ~Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), letter, c.1366–1367, translated by Morris Bishop, 1966
The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890
These are the years of waiting, the in-between years when one looks back, trying to understand, when one looks forward, building up strength. For what is to come is ever made out of what has been. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, But the Morning Will Come, 1949
It is possible at any age to discover a lifelong desire you never knew you had. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Deedy, aged ten and just beginning to study history, said, "Mother, you were alive when Thomas Jefferson was president, weren't you?" My denial must have carried some suggestion of dismay, for Jacques, aged eight, said in the most comforting tone, "Mother, you aren't really old. You just look old." Yes, that is how it is. As for me, my heart is still as wild, my head as full of fancies as ever... ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "The body — and something more," A View from the Hill, 1957
Regrets... are the natural property of grey hairs; and I enjoy, in common with all other men, at least my share of such inheritance. ~Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, 1844
Gray locks,—Nature's flag of truce. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Seven Seventy Seven Sensations, 1897
Age breeds aches. ~Proverb
Don't worry about avoiding temptation — as you grow older, it starts avoiding you. ~Author unknown
Everything slows down with age, except the time it takes cake and ice cream to reach your hips. ~John M. Wagner ("Maxine")
One has to spend so many years in learning how to be happy. I am just beginning to make some progress in the science, and I hope to disprove Young's theory that "as soon as we have found the key of life, it opes the gates of death." Every year strips us of at least one vain expectation, and teaches us to reckon some solid good in its stead. I never will believe that our youngest days are our happiest.... Childhood is only the beautiful and happy time in contemplation and retrospect: to the child it is full of deep sorrows, the meaning of which is unknown. Witness colic and whooping-cough and dread of ghosts, to say nothing of hell and Satan, and an offended Deity in the sky, who was angry when I wanted too much plum-cake. Then the sorrows of older persons, which children see but cannot understand, are worse than all. All this to prove that we are happier than when we were seven years old, and that we shall be happier when we are forty than we are now, which I call a comfortable doctrine, and one worth trying to believe! ~Mary Ann Evans, letter to Sara Hennell, May 1844 [a.k.a. George Eliot —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Never use the passing years as an excuse for old age. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Beautiful is old age—beautiful as the slow-dropping mellow autumn of a rich glorious summer. In the old man, Nature has fulfilled her work; she loads him with blessings; she fills him with the fruits of a well-spent life; and, surrounded by his children and his children's children, she rocks him softly away to a grave, to which he is followed with blessings. God forbid we should not call it beautiful. ~J.A. Froude
We try to achieve beauty by covering up all traces of age and end up looking like we tried to achieve youth by covering up all traces of beauty. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
The knowledge of my years is ever with me, a sort of binding torment, like an armhole that is too tight... ~Kate Trimble Sharber (b.1883), At the Age of Eve, 1911
You're never too old. Unfortunately, you're always too young to know it. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Youth disserves; middle age conserves; old age preserves. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)
Spiritual sloth, or acedia, was known as The Sin of the Middle Ages. It's the sin of my middle age, too. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963
Middle age is when the narrow waist and the broad mind begin to change places. ~Alex Dreier
Where did the time go? Yesterday, I was a girl, and today, I suddenly find myself in the autumn of my years with the cold winds of winter breathing down my neck. ~Peggy Toney Horton
A wind that blows from the sea, and smells
Of spring and fall together,
Runs racing up the yellow fields
Into the autumn weather.
And I run too, for I am young
And breathless with all living—
The trees are shouting as we pass,
The asters singing in the grass.
In half an hundred years from now,
When all my songs are sung,
I'll not be old and crossly sage,
I'll love the bright hill of my age
Under its winter sun,
And wave the gayest hand I know
To everything that's young.
~Dorothy Keeley, "On the Wing," c.1921
Strive as I will, I cannot keep my ship from drifting either toward God or toward death. I would like to find again the current of life, forget my age, but it is impossible: the estuary is too wide and already has some of the characteristics of the ocean. I can see the shores only through a veil of mist. What I still have in common with other men are the seasons, the transition from one to the other, to which I have always so keenly responded. It is the familiar current that I must find again by opening the books I have loved, and thus, in regard to them, pursue a meditation that is peaceful and down to earth. ~François Mauriac (1885–1970), "Man and Nature, and Art, and what it should be," Nouveaux Mémoires Intérieurs, 1965, translated from the French by Herma Briffault, The Inner Presence: Recollections of My Spiritual Life, 1968
You can't reach old age by another man's road. My habits protect my life but they would assassinate you. ~Mark Twain, seventieth birthday speech, 1905
The loose-leaf binder of Mother's letters sat on the kitchen table... she opened the binder.... "My darling daughter, I miss you when I'm away and maybe you don't know that. I miss you listening to me, for one thing.... You get old and you realize there are no answers, just stories." ~Garrison Keillor, Pontoon: A Novel of Lake Wobegon, 2007 [The typeface for the dropcaps in this book is really cute! Kinda fancy and yet fun at the same time. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
Growing a little older is suddenly
Standing a little still;
Then forward again, with something learned
Of the slow skill
Where motion dies...
~Mark Van Doren, "Growing a Little Older," 1932
And inside you are all the ages you have been. Never lost. Just set aside so you can grow more beautiful and wise. ~Pam Brown, To a Very Special Granddaughter, 1993, helenexley.com
Whatever a man's age, he can reduce it several years by putting a bright-colored flower in his button-hole. ~Mark Twain, The American Claimant
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away...
Age is a slowing down of everything except fear. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963
Men, if they aren't too lazy, and don't kill themselves with LIQUOR, TOBACCO or DOPE, sometimes live to be 80 years old, and they generally kill the time about as follows: 30 years shooting at the mark, 30 years examining the mark to see whether they hit it or not and 20 years cussing their bad luck and nursing the rheumatism. ~Josh Billings, revised by H. Montague
Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy. ~Author unknown
[O]ften, I am not all that exhausted, just either whining, apathetic or just simply not getting on to the next thing. This is why I try to be in environments that don't give me the opportunity to go sideways. Age has forced me to trade in some energy for more resolve. I think it's a good deal. ~Henry Rollins, "Empowerment Through Libraries," November 2013, LA Weekly
I look back on the time I've wasted, and I'm just glad I wasted it while I still had the chance. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Morning is brightest when it is breaking,
Music is sweetest just at its waking,
Stars are most beautiful when first they glimmer,
Time renders all bright things colder and dimmer...
~Florence Percy (Elizabeth Anne Chase Akers Allen, 1832–1911), "A Lullaby," Forest Buds, from the Woods of Maine, 1855
The brain forgets much, but the lower back remembers everything. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
The relentless punctuality, the unwearied urgency, of old Time.... The slow whitening and thinning of the hair; the gradual incision of wrinkles; the queer antics of the sight, which holds the newspaper at farther and farther removes, until at last it is forced to succumb to glasses; the abated pace in walking; the dexterous avoidance of stone walls in country rambles; the harmless frauds lurking in the expressed reasons for frequent pauses in climbing a hill to turn and see the landscape... the general and gradual adjustment to greater repose: all these surely are adequate reminders and signs of the sovereignty of Time. ~George William Curtis, "Editor's Easy Chair" ("The New Year"), Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1887
At my age, you not only have bittersweet memories, you make bittersweet plans. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Don't get old, and don't run with scissors. ~J.L.W. Brooks, "Sixty-eight," 2017
As we grow older, our capacity for enjoyment shrinks, but not our appetite for it. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963
Age transfigures, or petrifies. ~Marie Dubsky, Freifrau von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), translated by Mrs Annis Lee Wister, 1882
Age withers only the outside. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "De Senectute," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940
I speak truth, not so much as I would, but as much as I dare, and I dare a little the more, as I grow older; for, methinks, custom allows to age more liberty of prating, and more indiscretion of talking of a man's self. ~Michel de Montaigne, translated by Charles Cotton
You spend 90% of your adult life hoping for a long rest and the last 10% trying to convince the Lord that you're actually not that tired. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
It is dreadful to think of you in ill health — I can't realize it; you are always to me the same that you were in those days when matchless health and glowing spirits and delight in life were commonplaces with us. Lord save us all from old age and broken health and a hope-tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms. ~Mark Twain, letter to Joe T. Goodman, 1891
It's hard to feel middle-aged, because how can you tell how long you are going to live? ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963
I was young and foolish then; now I am old and foolisher. ~Mark Twain, a Biography
So, as the season was autumnal and the trees were turning brown, I chose a strictly appropriate sentence to be commented upon, "We all do fade as a leaf." It was to be a serious, reflective, almost sentimental discourse, upon the approach of age, the mellowness and beauty of the ripening fruit of experience, the kindly wisdom which was to make up for the cruder joys of youth... ~Adeline Sergeant, The Story of a Penitent Soul: Being the Private Papers of Mr. Stephen Dart, Late Minister at Lynnbridge in the County of Lincoln, 1892
They're not gray hairs — they're wisdom highlights. ~Author unknown
Tired?... The body has forgotten to be tired, under the supreme weariness of the soul. It is the soul which is tired. It is the soul whose wings have been broken beneath the wheel. Once they could have flown into the white light,—soared to the stars, now... now I am old. ~Virginia Woodward Cloud, "The Eleventh Hour," Dixie, August 1899
"Ah," he murmured, "it was ever my prayer, 'Lord, let me grow old in body, but let my soul stay young; let my voice quaver and falter, but never my hope.' And this is how I end." ~Israel Zangwill, Dreamers of the Ghetto, "From a Mattress Grave," 1897 [character Heinrich Heine speaking —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
I am now old enough to no longer have a fear of dying young. ~Bruce Ades, c.1990
I feel that I have triumphed over my body, that old enemy which waged many a cruel war on me, and I seem to be driving a laureled chariot up the sacred way to the Capitol of my soul, dragging at chariot-tail my conquered passions, the insidious foes of virtue firmly bound, and pleasure in chains. ~Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), letter, c.1366–1367, translated by Morris Bishop, 1966
Middle age is when we can do just as much as ever — but would rather not. ~Author unknown
No spring nor summer's beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face....
~John Donne, "Elegy IX: The Autumnal"
Love, benevolence, gratitude, and hope enrich the heart, energize the mind, and reanimate the body. Hatred, envy, revenge, and despair impoverish, enfeeble, and depress. Mental and moral hygiene—a cheerful spirit and the employment of every waking moment in work, study, recreation and social intercourse will keep us young and sweet and attractive in spite of furrowed cheeks and faltering footsteps; but an irritable fretful disposition will stamp premature age on mind and heart, and defy all the power of mere physical hygiene. ~W.J. Hunter, "How to Keep Young," Health Magazine, October 1899 [a little altered —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
...he was still too young to have thrust his roots down firmly into life... ~Thomas Mann, "Arrival," The Magic Mountain, 1924, translated from the German by H. T. Lowe-Porter, 1927
To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable. ~Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1890
In my young days, I was always pleased to hear a ring at my door: ah! thought I, now for something pleasant. But in later life my feelings on such occasions were rather akin to dismay than to pleasure: heaven help me! thought I, what am I to do? ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "The Ages of Life," Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891
ZEAL, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911
[D]on't grow old. With age comes caution, which is another name for cowardice.... Whatever else you do in life, don't cultivate a conscience. Without a conscience a man may never be said to grow old. This is an age of very old young men. ~Herbert Beerbohm Tree, as quoted by Hesketh Pearson ("Sir Herbert Tree," Modern Men and Mummers)
There's this youth culture that is really, really powerful and really, really strong, but what it does is it really discards people once they reach a certain age. I actually think that people are so powerful and interesting — women, especially — when they reach my age. We've got so much to say, but popular culture is so reductive that we just talk about whether we've got wrinkles, or whether we've put on weight or lost weight, or whether we've changed our hair style. I just find that so shallow. ~Annie Lennox, interview with Chris Azzopardi, September 2014
You know you've lived a few years when you start having your second thoughts first. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
I admire and respect those unique and positive individuals who can "age without aging." The number of times a heart beats is not as important as its tempo and rhythm. ~Craig D. Slovak
The elderly don't drive that badly; they're just the only ones with time to do the speed limit. ~Jason Love
May we keep a little of the fuel of youth to warm our body in old age. ~Minna Thomas Antrim, "To Harder Times," A Book of Toasts, 1902
So scared of getting older
I'm only good at being young...
~John Mayer, "Stop This Train," Continuum, 2006 ♫
They who can smile when others hate,
Nor bind the heart with frosts of fate,
Their feet will go with laughter bold
The green roads of the Never-Old.
They who can let the spirit shine
And keep the heart a lighted shrine,
Their feet will glide with fire-of-gold
The green roads of the Never-Old.
They who can put the self aside
And in Love's saddle leap and ride,
Their eyes will see the gates unfold
To green roads of the Never-Old.
~Edwin Markham, "The Never-Old," Gates of Paradise and Other Poems, 1920
[T]here is this value about the colour that men call colourless; that it suggests in some way the mixed and troubled averages of existence, especially in its quality of strife and expectation and promise. Grey is a colour that always seems on the eve of changing to some other colour; of brightening into blue or blanching into white or bursting into green and gold. So we may be perpetually reminded of the indefinite hope that is in doubt itself; and when there is grey weather in our hills or grey hairs in our heads, perhaps they may still remind us of the morning. ~G.K. Chesterton, Alarms and Discursions, "The Glory of Grey"
I am a flower made of various hues of autumn leaves. ~Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), "The Character of a Person of my Acquaintance" [At about age fifty. Lichtenberg's unfinished "autopsychography" (Norman Alliston, 1908). A little altered. —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
A few wrinkles add some character to a face... Without wrinkles we all who are far from young would look unfinished. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "The body — and something more," A View from the Hill, 1957 [a little altered —tg]
It's amazing how much "mature wisdom" resembles being too tired. ~Robert A. Heinlein (1907–1988)
People always fancy that we must become old to become wise; but, in truth, as years advance, it is hard to keep ourselves as wise as we were. Man becomes, indeed, in the different stages of his life, a different being; but he cannot say that he is a better one, and, in certain matters, he is as likely to be right in his twentieth, as in his sixtieth year.
We see the world one way from a plain, another way from the heights of a promontory, another from the glacier fields of the primary mountains. We see, from one of those points, a larger piece of the world than from the other; but that is all, and we cannot say that we see more truly from any one than from the rest. When a writer leaves monuments on the different steps of his life, it is chiefly important that he should have an innate foundation and good‑will; that he should, at each step, have seen and felt clearly, and that, without any secondary aims, he should have said distinctly and truly what has passed in his mind. Then will his writings, if they were right at the step where they originated, remain always right, however the writer may develop or alter himself in the after times.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Winter, which strips the leaves from around us, makes us see the distant regions they formerly concealed; so does old age rob us of our enjoyments, only to enlarge the prospect of eternity before us. ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (1763–1825)
I am convinced that most people do not grow up. We find parking spaces and honor our credit cards. We marry and dare to have children and call that growing up. I think what we do is mostly grow old. ~Maya Angelou, "Home," Letter to My Daughter, 2008
You cannot fail to be shocked after Eight years absence at the change you will find in those most dear to you. When I look in my Glass — I See that I am not what I was — I scarcely know a feature of my own face — but I believe that this mortal Body — Shall one day put on immortality — and be renovated in the world of Spirits — having enjoyed a large portion of the good things of this Life, and few of its miseries, I ought to rise satisfied from the Feast, and gratefull to the Giver. ~Abigail Smith Adams, letter to John Quincy Adams, 1817
My garden shall yet hang heavy with tardy bloom. I shall pluck the fig in its late ripeness. The sumac will crimson for me in the frost of the fall. I shall gather wild grapes in their empurpling, and come with wild hops torn from the tops of frost-touched trees. I shall gather myself in great, ripe, yellow sheaves of me, in great clusters of maturity. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: XXIX," A Soul's Faring, 1921
"'Tis not by the gray of the hair that one knows the age of the heart," answered De Mauléon, in another paraphrase of Italian proverb... ~Edward Bulwer, The Parisians, 1872
Young twigs will bend, but not old trees. ~Dutch Proverb [Quoted in Woordenboek der Nederduitsche en Fransche Taalen / Dictionnaire Flamand & François, Halma & van Poolsum, c.1710 —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
For young Twigs will bend with most Ease, before they grow stubborn or stiff-neck'd: And we ought to begin early to lay the Foundation of Learning, Knowledge, and Vertue, in the Morning of our Lives; for we are hardly safe from Corruption in our Nurse's Arms. ~Oswald Dykes, c.1713 [A reflection on the English proverb "That which is bred in the Bone, will never out of the Flesh." —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
'Tis Education forms the common mind,
Just as the Twig is bent, the Tree's inclin'd.
~Alexander Pope (1688–1744)
...my age is as a lusty winter,
Frosty, but kindly...
~William Shakespeare, As You Like It, c.1599 [II, 3, Adam]
The best way to live your life is to go to the other side of the rainbow young, but at a very old age. ~Craig D. Slovak
Why is it, that the soul looks back
On its once fair, now faded track,
When Youth and Hope, so fondly bright,
Would onward still direct its flight?
In Manhood's more advancéd years,
We look on youth, and e'en its tears,
All fondly beaming on our gaze,
Seem bright thro' intervening days.
Such joyous freshness hath that time,
So pure the sunshine of its clime,
That turning back, those days to hail,
Bright Fiction lends to Truth her veil,
And o'er each scene of care or woe
Its brighter tints will gently throw:—
Thus sleeps on Midnight's darker hue
The zone that girds her robe of blue.
~Robert Howe Gould, "Poetic Musings, Addressed to a Lady," 1840
A little grayer than last year, a little slower in my gait, I feel the dump is drawing near, and still I keep my smile on straight. A little failure of my sight; a bit more deafness in my ears; a few more aches—but that's all right! I would not stop the scudding years. My bald spot is a bit more wide, my muscles grow a trifle slack; I have more stiches in my side, a few more cricks are in my back. But yonder vault of azure bends above to no gladder heart than mine, for all about me there are friends, who keep an old gent feeling fine. Their kind words make my bosom swell, and fill my piebald eyes with tears; they tell me I am looking well, and hope I'll live a hundred years. A few more symptoms of the gout have vainly tried to kill my joy; a few more teeth have fallen out, but I'm as happy as a boy. ~Walt Mason (1862–1939), "Birthdays"
The problem with trying to disguise our age to preserve our youth is that our age is so often better looking. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Though haply mellow'd by correcting time,
I thank thee, Heaven! that the bereaving world
Hath not diminish'd the subliming hopes
Of youth, in manhood's more imposing cares...
~Robert Montgomery, "Death," A Universal Prayer; Death; A Vision of Heaven; and A Vision of Hell; &c. &c., 1829
One mellows almost without realizing it—a compensation of age, because anger is exhausting. ~Robert Galbraith, The Silkworm, 2014
[Y]ou're in pretty good shape
for the shape you are in!
~Dr. Seuss, You're Only Old Once! A Book for Obsolete Children, 1986
When the problem is not so much resisting temptation as finding it, you may just be getting older. ~Author unknown
Once glistering green,
With dewy sheen,
And summer glory round them cast:
Now black and bare,
The trees stand there,
And mourn their beauty that it past.
Look, leaf by leaf,
Each leaf a grief.
The hand of Autumn strips them bare.
No sound nor cry,
As they fall and die,
Because they know that Life is there.
So stiff and strong,
The winter long,
All uncomplaining stand the trees.
God make my life,
Through all its strife,
As true to Spring as one of these.
So would I stand,
Serene and grand,
While age strips off the joys of youth;
Because I know
That, as they go,
My soul draws nearer to the Truth.
~G. A. Studdert Kennedy, "Trees," The Sorrows of God and Other Poems, 1924
Seated on a Chippendale chair and writing on a portable typewriter with three fingers of each hand ("most amateur typists can only use two," she says proudly), she takes from six weeks to three months to produce a whodunit. She is still capable of producing two a year and has based four of them on the archaeological work which is now her chief interest. But "I don't think I dare do it again," she says, "or my husband will think I am neglecting my official duties." Agatha Christie would be the last person to want to make trouble of this kind because she rates domestic happiness far higher than literary success, and she is fond of quoting the witty wife who once said, "An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have: the older she gets, the more interested he is in her." ~Nigel Dennis, "Genteel Queen of Crime: Whodunit Writer Agatha Christie Puts Her Zest for Life into Murder," LIFE, 1956 May 14th ["She asked him why he hadn't got married yet, and Richard said he didn't think he was the marrying kind, to which Mrs. Clayton said briskly: 'Nonsense.' Archaeologists, she said, made splendid husbands,—and were there any young women coming out to the Dig this season?" ~Agatha Christie, They Came to Baghdad, 1951 —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
it may be dreadful to be old but it's worse not to be young ~E.E. Cummings, "Jottings," in Wake, 1951
It is rather a sad business, peering into the looking glass as the years go by. Is that me, that old critter there? ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "The body — and something more," A View from the Hill, 1957
To get along best there must be two of us: ourself, and ourself younger than ourself. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Calidus Iuventa," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940
Do you count your birthdays thankfully? ~Horace (65–8 BCE)
'Tis well to give honour and glory to age,
With its lessons of wisdom and truth;
Yet who would not go back to the fanciful page,
And the fairy tale read but in youth?
~Eliza Cook, "Stanzas," Melaia, and Other Poems, 1840
An old woman looks in a mirror, recalls a little girl with a rag doll, and wonders what became of the little girl. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
He dreaded the inexorable mirror, and yet self-torturing curiosity impelled him to inspect his face with the keen observation of a Holbein. Not even the least deterioration in his appearance escaped his search and scrutiny. He perceived and examined all the ravages which life had made in his exterior: the lines crossing the brow, the little wrinkles extending from the corners of the eyes towards the temples, the deep ones, as well as those which seemed, as it were, lightly sketched with a faint stroke... the flabbiness of the narrow strip of skin between the edge of the beard and the ears.... He counted the white hairs already visible on the temples—he pulled out the ones in the moustache—let the sunbeams play over his hair and, turning and bending his head, saw that it was growing thinner and, from the brow to the crown, showed the smooth scalp shining through. ~Max Nordau (1849–1923), "The Art of Growing Old," How Women Love and Other Tales (Soul Analysis), translated from the German by an unnamed translator, 1896
I complain that the years fly past, but then I look in a mirror and see that very few of them actually got past. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Youthful passion is a giant. It overleaps all the dreams, and all the resolves of our better and quieter nature; and drives madly toward some wild issue, that lives only in its frenzy. ~Ik Marvel (Donald Grant Mitchell, 1822–1908), Dream Life: A Fable of the Seasons
Aged ears are partial to inner voices. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "De Senectute," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940
Maybe the older you grow and the less easy it is to put thought into action, maybe that's why it gets all locked up in your head and becomes a burden. ~Truman Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany's, 1958
I can enjoy even a return in winter, even in the icy rain; I will welcome those days with closed eyes and will find in them my delight. No matter how cold the hand on our forehead, it is enough that it be a loved hand. ~François Mauriac (1885–1970), "Man and Nature, and Art, and what it should be," Nouveaux Mémoires Intérieurs, 1965, translated from the French by Herma Briffault, The Inner Presence: Recollections of My Spiritual Life, 1968
The young have too little confidence in themselves; the old, in others. ~"Poor Richard Junior's Philosophy," The Saturday Evening Post, 1903, George Horace Lorimer, editor
AGE Something to brag about in your wine-cellar and forget about in a birth-day book. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Foolish Dictionary, Executed by Gideon Wurdz, Master of Pholly, Doctor of Loquacious Lunacy, etc., 1904
Middle age is when work is a lot less fun and fun is a lot more work. ~Author unknown
Perhaps in some thin and far-off fashion, he still hoped to find love some day; there had been moments haunted by a vision of himself seated cosily before a glowing hearth, and not alone; but somehow, as the years passed, that figure sitting there in slippered ease had grown older and older, grey haired, even a little stiff in the joints... ~Burton E. Stevenson, The Kingmakers, "Chapter XIX: Selden Takes an Inventory," 1922
Growing old is not a gradual decline, but a series of drops, full of sorrow, from one ledge to another below it. But when we pick ourselves up we find our bones are, after all, not broken; while level enough and not unpleasing is the new terrace which lies unexplored before us. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, "Age and Death," Afterthoughts, 1931
Middle age — a stealthy, crafty nemesis. ~Terri Guillemets
Like some poor woman, young at heart,
And use to being fair,
Forgets her age and thinks of spring;
For spring is in the air.
~Jean Wright, "A Fool on a Roof: Et in Arcadia Ego"
In my middle years, I have exchanged the position of the fetus for the position of a corpse. When I go to sleep now, it is no longer on my side with my knees tucked up securely against my abdomen, and my thumb near my mouth. I lie on my back with my hands clasped across my chest decorously like a cadaver and my face pointed straight up toward the ceiling... When I awake, though, it is usually on my side, and one of my hands is still always between my thighs... ~Joseph Heller, Something Happened, 1966
Clouds weave the SUMMER into the season of AUTUMN: and YOUTH rises from dashed hopes, into the statures of a MAN. ~Ik Marvel (Donald Grant Mitchell, 1822–1908), Dream Life: A Fable of the Seasons
[W]e are not so young as we once were, and time seems to be growing long. I dream of being a grandame, and banding my silver hairs, and I seem to be quite submissive to the thought of growing old... ~Emily Dickinson, letter to Annie P. Strong, 1851
I can remember once, ere I was dead,
The sorrow and the prayer and bitter cry
When they who loved me stood around the bed,
Watching till I should die:
They need not so have grieved their souls for me,
Grouped statue-like to count my failing breath—
Only one thought strove faintly, bitterly
With the kind drug of Death:
How once upon a time, unwept, unknown,
Unhelped by pitying sigh or murmured prayer,
My youth died in slow agony alone
With none to watch or care.
~Margaret Widdemer (1884–1978), "The Two Dyings," 1913
The pain of watching a parent age is unlike any other.... But in the end, well — it's simply life. ~NCIS, "Better Angels" (S11, E7, 2013), written by Gina Lucita Monreal, spoken by the character Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard
And these vicissitudes tell best in youth;
For when they happen at a riper age,
People are apt to blame the Fates, forsooth,
And wonder Providence is not more sage.
Adversity is the first path to truth:
He who hath proved war, storm, or woman's rage,
Whether his winters be eighteen or eighty,
Hath won the experience which is deem'd so weighty.
~Lord Byron, Don Juan, 1819
Great artists say that the most beautiful thing in the world is a baby. Well, the next is an old lady, for every wrinkle is a picture. ~Will Rogers (1879–1935)
Dotage — or a reasonable facsimile thereof — had crept up on me in that insidious way it has. Without realizing it, I had slumped, I had gotten into a little rut of living, doing the same things every day, accepting dullness and monotony as my natural lot. Just accepting, that was the worst of it, never testing my strength or using what powers I had left, and so taking it for granted that I had none. ~Cid Ricketts Sumner, "The fortune teller," A View from the Hill, 1957
[T]he drama that is associated usually with the young as they fully begin to enter life—with adolescents, with young men... can also startle and lay siege to the aged.... Maybe the most potent discoveries are reserved for last. ~Philip Roth, Exit Ghost, 2007
calmer deeper waters
~Terri Guillemets, "Pearl grey," 2013
When I can look Life in the eyes,
Grown calm and very coldly wise,
Life will have given me the Truth,
And taken in exchange — my youth.
~Sara Teasdale, "Wisdom"
LIFE The job of growing old. ~Charles Wayland Towne, The Altogether New Foolish Dictionary, by Gideon Wurdz, 1914
Half in wonder, half in sorrow,
Mark we the swift flight of years,
Note the care-lines on our faces,
On our hearts the scars of tears.
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "Time's Unfinished Volume," 1880
We have known and grown and suffered;
We have loved, been loved again;
We have held life's cup of pleasure;
We have tasted of its pain...
We have built our Spanish castles,
Rich with columns, tall with towers;
We have watched them sway and struggle
To withstand the stormy hours.
We have seen the flames surround them
With an eager hungry haste,
And have memory-vaults of ashes
Gathered from the whitened waste...
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "Time's Unfinished Volume," 1880
It is awful to think how many years one has been a young man! ~Charles Searle, Look Here!, 1885
Dear. I hope that when you are very, very old you can look back and say "Heavens. That was a lovely life." ~Pam Brown, To a Very Special Daughter, 1991, helenexley.com
The sun shines different ways in summer and winter. And we shine differently in the seasons of our lives. ~Terri Guillemets
The discovery of a grey hair when you are brushing out your whiskers of a morning—first fallen flake of the coming snows of age—is a disagreeable thing.... So are flying twinges of gout, shortness of breath on the hill-side, the fact that even the moderate use of your friend's wines at dinner upsets you. These things are disagreeable because they tell you that you are no longer young—that you have passed through youth, are now in middle age, and faring onward to the shadows in which, somewhere, a grave is hid. ~Alexander Smith, "An Essay on an Old Subject"
There is a certain even-handed justice in Time; and for what he takes away he gives us something in return. He robs us of elasticity of limb and spirit, and in its place he brings tranquility and repose—the mild autumnal weather of the soul. ~Alexander Smith, "An Essay on an Old Subject"
There is a slow-growing beauty which only comes to perfection in old age.... I have seen sweeter smiles on a lip of seventy than I ever saw on a lip of seventeen. There is the beauty of youth, and there is also the beauty of holiness—a beauty much more seldom met; and more frequently found in the arm-chair by the fire, with grandchildren around its knee, than in the ball-room or the promenade. ~Alexander Smith, "An Essay on an Old Subject"
And in any case, to the old man, when the world becomes trite, the triteness arises not so much from a cessation as from a transference of interest. What is taken from this world is given to the next. The glory is in the east in the morning, it is in the west in the afternoon, and when it is dark the splendour is irradiating the realm of the under-world. He would only follow. ~Alexander Smith, "An Essay on an Old Subject"
Once, I remember, the world was young;
The rills rejoiced with a silver tongue...
For Youth was with me (I know it now!),
And a light shone out from his wreathèd brow...
But alas, he vanished, and Time appeared,
The Spirit of Ages, old and weird.
He crushed and scattered my beamy wings;
He dragged me forth from the court of kings;
He gave me doubt and a bloom of beard,
This Spirit of Ages, old and weird...
And suddenly all was strange and gray,
And the rocks came out on the trodden way...
Something is gone from the house of mirth—
Something is gone from the hills of Earth.
Time hurries me on with a wizard hand;
He turns the Earth to a homeless land;
He stays my life with a stingy breath,
And darkens its depths with foreknowledge of death;
Calls memories back on their path apace;
Sends desperate thoughts to the soul's dim place.
Time murders our youth with his sorrow and sin,
And pushes us on to the windowless inn.
~Charles Edwin Markham, "Youth and Time," 1891
For as long as my health will allow me, I will find the way to earn a piece of bread... While my soul does not age... my mortal body does feel the many decades I have completed. ~Louis Pio, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1804, Paris, translated from French
Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes. ~Author unknown
Be kind to the gray hair, and acknowledge the wrinkle. ~Charles F. Raymond, "Is Old Age Inglorious?," Cheer Up, 1909
You know how they say that youth is wasted on the young? Well, I say don't let the wisdom of age be wasted on you. ~Ted Lasso, "For the Children," 2020, written by Jamie Lee [S1, E4, Ted]
We advance in years somewhat in the manner of an invading army in a barren land; the age that we have reached, as the phrase goes, we but hold with an outpost, and still keep open our communications with the extreme rear and first beginnings of the march. ~Robert Louis Stevenson, "Virginibus Puerisque," 1881
And I will have my careless season
Spite of melancholy reason,
Will walk through life in such a way
That, when time brings on decay,
Now and then I may possess
Hours of perfect gladsomeness.
— Pleased by any random toy;
By a Kitten's busy joy,
Or an Infant's laughing eye
Sharing in the ecstasy;
I would fare like that or this,
Find my wisdom in my bliss...
~William Wordsworth (1770–1850), "The Kitten and the Falling Leaves"
at night her age landed hard
like the fall of wasted time
~Terri Guillemets, "Midlife nights," 2018, blackout poetry created from Danielle Steel, Fairy Tale, 2017, page 118
You can repeat your follies, but you can't recapture your youth. ~Arnold H. Glasow (1905–1999)
When aged men to aged offer some advice
A store of treasure piled on treasure they provide.
~Menander (c.342–c.292 BCE), translated by Francis G. Allinson, 1921
Aging is an exponential clock — ticking in runaway years. ~Terri Guillemets
Old men are like the wrecks of time, thrown by the waves of one century upon the shores of another. ~Author unknown, c.1837
I wanted to write what was never told to me as a young woman: that one's world and the possibilities for it — be it a change of heart or a change of address — look very different when one is no longer young. I am no longer young. Neither am I old, but soon enough old age will come.... We are born and die within a particular epoch and within that era we may affect, through small or grand acts of courage, whatever changes we can upon this pitiful planet. Maybe to the young ones, I simply want to say, "Work tirelessly when your bodies do not yet ache at night. Do not waste your lives, your good health, strong bones, and resilient muscles. Use them." ~Cherríe L. Moraga, "From Inside the First World: On 9/11 and Women-of-Color Feminism," 2001
I see a face in the glass,
And I wonder if it can be
The face of the merry lass
Who used to laugh back at me.
I note the braids and coils
Of a silvered chestnut hue,
And I ask, Are they the spoils
Of a golden ringlet crew?
I linger pitying o'er
The lips that were scarlet flame,
And roses that come no more
On cheeks that lilies claim...
~Sara L. Vickers Oberholtzer, "The Solution," Come for Arbutus, and Other Wild Bloom, 1882
Age is a foreign land I can't get used to. I want to go back home. ~Terri Guillemets, "Sound of winter leaves at night," 2014
As Bees hive Sweets against cold Winter's Rage,
Let Youth store Happy Memories for Age.
~Arthur Guiterman, "Of Preparedness," A Poet's Proverbs, 1924
Happiness has not to all the same name: to Youth she is known as the Future; Age knows her as the Dream. ~Ambrose Bierce
But if thou wilt enjoy thy warm youth, not terrified by the ice-pit of old age, which awaits thee in the background, and in which, under an ever-increasing cold, thou wilt be preserved for a season, then look upon the glad to‑day as a long youth, and upon the sad to‑morrow as a short old age. ~Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (1763–1825), Flower, Fruit, and Thorn Pieces: or, The Married Life, Death, and Wedding of The Advocate of the Poor, Firmian Stanislaus Siebenkäs, 1796, translated from the German by Edward Henry Noel, 1845
her smiling girl-heart danced
behind the grey, grey hair
~Terri Guillemets, "Girl-heart," 2019, scrambled blackout poetry created from Enid Bagnold, National Velvet, 1935, pages 125–126
The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance a palace or temple on the earth, and at length the middle-aged man concludes to build a wood-shed with them. ~Henry David Thoreau, journal, 1852
Oh! weep not that our beauty wears
Beneath the wings of Time;
That age o'erclouds the brow with cares
That once was raised sublime...
But mourn the inward wreck we feel
As hoary years depart,
And Time's effacing fingers steal
Young feelings from the heart!
~Robert Montgomery, "Lost Feelings," March 1828
The diseases of old age are the diseases of children grown old. ~Martin H. Fischer (1879–1962)
I wouldn't call it optimism exactly, but you get to a point in life where if you don't believe it's going to be different this time, it's pretty hard to get started on anything. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Susan: "Sally, does it ever occur to you that age brings wisdom and greater confidence?"
Sally: "Susan, age brings you more to shave."
~Coupling, "Flushed," original airdate 12 May 2000, written by Steven Moffat
Sandra's anxiety, with its telescoping of the next thirty years into a single grim tomorrow, is typical of the climacterium. We had both sailed through our forties with very little awareness of growing older... Suddenly something was slipping away so fast that we had not had time quite to register what it might be. All we knew was that it was irreplaceable. ~Germaine Greer, "The Undescribed Experience," The Change: Women, Aging and the Menopause, 1992
When I fall into old age, let it be not a drunkenly face-first tumble but rather a graceful autumn leaf drifting from the tree. ~Terri Guillemets, "Serenity & grace," 2010 [Or do we ascend into older age? If so, then let me soar and not be slung. —tg]
Behold another year hath fled
In ages solemn chime,
Another follows in its stead,
And mounts the throne of time.
So one by one they disappear,
Unseen they flee the page
Of human life each rolling year,
Redeems the debt of age...
~Edward George Kent, "The Years," Lindum Lays and Legends, 1861
The things that are young and fresh and buoyant, where are they?
Did I not use to sing at morn? Had I not gladness to greet the day? Where did I lay them down, and is it too far to go back?...
I am drained dry by the huge, blood-sucking tentacles of being, but I shall yet be restored to the font of the juices of life. I have a right to be watered abundantly. I have a right to be green and living. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: XXI," A Soul's Faring, 1921
Youth is slipping from me…
Like a golden garment a girl slips softly
from her cool body.
Daily I see the changes…
Changes like the sky when autumn comes
and twilight quickens suddenly.
There is silver in my hair…
Hair that was tawny and shimmering like
meadow grass stroked by sunlight.
My laughter no longer has the same ring…
The old, girlhood ring that rippled before
Sorrow stooped to me.
Nor is my body firm and supple…
Supple as a lad's it used to be, and there was
lustre in the flesh, and muscle.
Youth is slipping from me…
Like a golden garment a girl slips slowly
from her cool body…
~Blanche Shoemaker Wagstaff, "Garments," Quiet Waters, 1921
Age composes poems
upon our faces —
with more meaning
and fewer rhymes
every passing year
You spend the first two-thirds of your life asking to be left alone and the last third not having to ask. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
When the straight, eager forms that we knew in youth
Become bent with age, we rebel at the truth
That never, again, will they be young and strong;
For old age—so ruthless!—has now come along.
~Gertrude Tooley Buckingham, "We Do Not Grow Old," 1940s
Whenever I see the TV ad where the woman says, "I can't BE young, but I can certainly LOOK young," I can't help thinking she has it exactly backwards. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Time has taken edge of vision,
ears' perception, hands' precision
yet how can any feel bereft
when wonderment and love are left?
~Pam Brown, quoted in An Illustrated Grandmother's Notebook, 1990, helenexley.com
Do I forget how to be glad, how to feel the sun and the grasses, how to romp with the winds and laugh with the trees?... Does the clamoring sky find friend in me? I come heavy, like barnacled ships. No longer lithe and light, but with the sediment of life set in.... I will leave it there where it pulled me down, the heavy accretion of the years. I will renew the instinct that once would have soared, that would have winged its way to the sky.... The iron woman shall be returned to the filigree silver.... I am an antidote even to myself. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: LXVII," A Soul's Faring, 1921
The years pile up and hide under a new exterior... ~Terri Guillemets, "Aging inside & out," 2014, blackout poetry created from Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, 1850, page 73
Growing a little older is holding
One day a question back;
Then letting it go, with something seen
Of the faint crack
Twixt nothing and all...
~Mark Van Doren, "Growing a Little Older," 1932
In youth we are plagued by desire; in later years, by the desire to feel desire. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963
Old Father Time fox-trots
across my golden locks!
Bent backs, near the end of the long road, remember without triumph the straight backs that broke half-way along it. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "De Senectute," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940
You get to an age when there are really just two reasons to get up in the morning — for goodness sake and for heaven's sake. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
I also discovered that, contrary to common sense, I could read these letters if I got farther away from them. I still don't really understand why this is. My theory is that when the light leaves the printed page, it's young and thin; but after a few feet, it gets older and fatter, and you can see it more easily. ~Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50, 1998, davebarry.com
In youth study; in maturity compose; in old age correct. ~William Benton Clulow, Horæ Otiosæ, 1833
[I]n youth, a man fancies that there is a prodigious amount of happiness and pleasure to be had in the world, only that it is difficult to come by it; whereas, when he becomes old, he knows that there is nothing of the kind; he makes his mind completely at ease on the matter, enjoys the present hour as well as he can, and even takes a pleasure in trifles. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "The Ages of Life," Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891
Age is a gradual steamrolling of youth. ~Terri Guillemets, "Pressed flowers are still pretty," 2003
I saw the truth of pain behind an old man's wrinkled eyes today. ~Daniel, @blindedpoet, tweet, 2010
When blood was in my heart like wine
I crept beneath a branching pine;
With passion drank the piny breath
And no thought further then than death.
Now blood is colder and instead
I mind the liquor of the head,
Wherein I see, as in a glass,
The pine decay, the season pass.
And I have known, with sudden sight,
A shadow from the pine like night,
And sorrowing breezes, verse by verse,
Lament above the spirit's hearse;
And found some comfort, but not all,
Where the red needles wove a pall,
To mark through that dead carpet shine
The promise of a seedling pine.
~Philip Henry Savage (1868–1899), "The Pine-Tree," Poems, 1898
My younger passions are still listening as I age. ~Terri Guillemets
Do I weep then that dreams are flown, strength gone, and youth dead? Do I mourn that,—rent and weatherbeaten,—I lie a dingy wreck upon a stagnant shore? ~Malheureuse, "Four For a Cent," in The Overland Monthly, January 1893
We must grow old! The years go by,
Sometimes on wings they seem to fly;
But why such haste? We know not why!
We only know that we grow old!...
The broken links of life's short chain
Can never find their place again...
Into the dark unknown we take
The hopes misfortune could not shake,
Pure as the mountain's snowy flake,
Where all is well—when we are old.
~Timothy Thomas Fortune
I am suddenly ten years older than I was, it seems, one year ago... ~Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary, 2015
Young women are lively, colorful flowers swaying carefree in the breeze. Mature women are part of the vital, nourishing landscape from which other beautiful flowers grow. ~Terri Guillemets, "Early autumn light," 2017
There was a time when life had the look of a smooth, unbroken, virgin prairie, the look of a slim girl, but now it has the deep lines of life, of child-bearing, of much parturition. It is heavy and seamed with living, like soil with the marks of the share. It has the look of much bringing forth, the mother-look of much brooding and attendant care. It is no longer youth with the maiden look in its eyes — it is maturity bearing its pack. ~Muriel Strode (1875–1964), "A Soul's Faring: LXVI," A Soul's Faring, 1921
With each passing year, the body turns more prison than shelter. ~Terri Guillemets
The birthdays of our early youth
Were gala days of play and sweets—
Of running races, jumping rope,
Of wondrous acrobatic feats.
And, O, the cakes our mother made
With shiny icing decked with red,
Molasses candy just like gold,
And other things that we were fed...
The late birthdays draw nearer—near—
Three score and ten, four score, or more;
A time for ease, for prayer and praise,
A time to count one's blessings o'er.
These sunset anniversaries
Convince us all, in very truth,
That Age is but a shallow blind—
A mortal camouflage of Youth.
Perennial youth is ever found
In one who lives a life of love;
Whose birthday memories may count
As stepping-stones to heights above.
So, whether here or otherwhere,
The flowers will bloom and birds will sing,
The sunshine drive away the clouds,
If in our hearts it's always spring.
~Anna E. Satterlee, "Birthdays," 1921
Age attacks when we least expect it. ~Terri Guillemets
I think that, from a biological standpoint, human life almost reads like a poem. It has its own rhythm and beat, its internal cycles of growth and decay. It begins with innocent childhood, followed by awkward adolescence trying awkwardly to adapt itself to mature society, with its young passions and follies, its ideals and ambitions; then it reaches a manhood of intense activities, profiting from experience and learning more about society and human nature; at middle age, there is a slight easing of tension, a mellowing of character like the ripening of fruit or the mellowing of good wine, and the gradual acquiring of a more tolerant, more cynical and at the same time a kindlier view of life; then in the sunset of our life, the endocrine glands decrease their activity, and if we have a true philosophy of old age and have ordered our life pattern according to it, it is for us the age of peace and security and leisure and contentment; finally, life flickers out and one goes into eternal sleep, never to wake up again. One should be able to sense the beauty of this rhythm of life, to appreciate, as we do in grand symphonies, its main theme, its strains of conflict and the final resolution. ~Lin Yutang, "Human Life a Poem," The Importance of Living, 1937
No one can say that a life with childhood, manhood and old age is not a beautiful arrangement; the day has its morning, noon and sunset, and the year has its seasons, and it is good that it is so. There is no good or bad in life, except what is good according to its own season. And if we take this biological view of life and try to live according to the seasons, no one but a conceited fool or an impossible idealist can deny that human life can be lived like a poem. ~Lin Yutang, "Human Life a Poem," The Importance of Living, 1937
In the bright dawn of our youthful days, the poetry of life spreads out a gorgeous vision before us, and we torture ourselves by longing to see it realised. We might as well wish to grasp the rainbow!... If the chief feature of the earlier half of life is a never-satisfied longing after happiness, the later half is characterised by the dread of misfortune. For, as we advance in years, it becomes in a greater or less degree clear that all happiness is chimærical in its nature.... Accordingly, in later years, we, or, at least, the more prudent amongst us, are more intent upon eliminating what is painful from our lives and making our position security, than on the pursuit of positive pleasure. I may observe, by the way, that in old age we are better able to prevent misfortunes from coming, and in youth better able to bear them when they come. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "The Ages of Life," Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891
Aging is closer to ashes
— but also to stardust.
I have another dear friend, who is a sexagenary bachelor. He has one of those well-oiled dispositions, which turn upon the hinges of the world without creaking. The heyday of life is over with him; but his old age is sunny and chirping; and a merry heart still nestles in his tottering frame, like a swallow that builds in a tumble-down chimney. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Hyperion, 1839
How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow
Into the arctic regions of our lives,
Where little else than life itself survives.
As the barometer foretells the storm
While still the skies are clear, the weather warm,
So something in us, as old age draws near,
Betrays the pressure of the atmosphere.
The nimble mercury, ere we are aware,
Descends the elastic ladder of the air;
The telltale blood in artery and vein
Sinks from its higher levels in the brain;
Whatever poet, orator, or sage
May say of it, old age is still old age.
It is the waning, not the crescent moon,
The dusk of evening, not the blaze of noon;
It is not strength, but weakness; not desire,
But its surcease; not the fierce heat of fire,
The burning and consuming element,
But that of ashes and of embers spent,
In which some living sparks we still discern,
Enough to warm, but not enough to burn.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Morituri Salutamus," c.1875
Something remains for us to do or dare;
Even the oldest tree some fruit may bear...
For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Morituri Salutamus," c.1875
Overheard: "Another day of being old enough. Still waiting for the knowing better to kick in." ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
My wrinkles are a playground of happy memories. ~Terri Guillemets
Who ever decided that "happy birthday" was a good thing to say to someone who just got a year older? "Happy birthday" is for kids. A birthday doesn't do anything for the person having it, except remind him or her that he's jut one year closer to the end of it all. ~Andy Rooney, on 60 Minutes, 2005
You should just let it go
Free your energy on joy
~Terri Guillemets, 2018, blackout poetry created from Danielle Steel, Fairy Tale, 2017, page 45
The trouble with having just one physical body is that so often you are mistaken for the previous occupant. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
the world and i were younger,
and, for the most part,
and only the good times matter when you're young...
i remember all the "unimportant" things;
the really happy times
that amount to only a few special moments of an entire lifetime...
then i saw that life was more
than just having fun.
the bad times became just as important
as the good.
now there are times when i feel loneliness as well as love,
and the wounds of childhood bitterness
heal less quickly;
now there are times when i
feel hateful as well as hopeful,
as the resiliency of youth
yields to the staidness of age;
now those good times
have been balanced by the bad
and i am confused...
~Ken Sekaquaptewa and Candy St. Jacques, Sahuaro, 1970, yearbook of the Associated Students of Arizona State University
Teetering on life's balance, between the long past and the unknown yet less infinite future, knowing it's only going to tip in one direction, and more quickly than you ever expected — that sense of vertigo, fear, excitement, and uncertainty, is middle age. ~Terri Guillemets
I grant you that I burn less carbon than some years ago. I see people of my standing really good for nothing, decrepit... with what little life they have left mainly concentrated in their epigastrium. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
...the disease of old age is epidemic, endemic, and sporadic, and everybody that lives long enough is sure to catch it... ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
Age brings other obvious changes besides the loss of active power. The sensibilities are less keen, the intelligence is less lively, as we might expect under the influence of that narcotic which Nature administers... Old age is like an opium-dream. Nothing seems real except what is unreal. I am sure that the pictures painted by the imagination, — the faded frescos on the walls of memory, — come out in clearer and brighter colors than belonged to them many years earlier. Nature has her special favors for her children of every age, and this is one which she reserves for our second childhood. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, "To the Reader," Over the Teacups, 1890
A person is always startled when he hears himself seriously called an old man for the first time. Nature gets us out of youth into manhood, as sailors are hurried on board of vessels, — in a state of intoxication. We are hustled into maturity reeling with our passions and imaginations, and we have drifted far away from port before we awake out of our illusions. But to carry us out of maturity into old age, without our knowing where we are going, she drugs us with strong opiates, and so we stagger along with wide open eyes that see nothing until snow enough has fallen on our heads to rouse our comatose brains out of their stupid trances. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table
Age is like the latest version of a software — it has a bunch of great new features but you lost all the cool features the previous version had. ~Terri Guillemets, "Thirties and beyond," 2006
When I met you I was living enchanted hours
Amid flowers that young dreams grow. It was years ago.
...I was in a garden in the month of May then.
And when I grew up and wandered out the gate
The season was late and very cruel to the sight.
This blight my heart learned not to fear...
~Cave Outlaw, "The Letter," Each Day, 1942
Under perfect conditions of constitution, climate, food, occupations and habits of life, the periods of youth could be greatly prolonged, the decrepitude of age entirely avoided; and like an apple ripe and mellow, man would drop from the tree of life without a struggle or a groan. But it is painfully obvious in this age of artificial life, if not of dissipation and debauchery, the great majority of people are born with organizations incapable of manifesting the phenomena of life for more than sixty or seventy years. ~W.J. Hunter, "How to Keep Young," Health Magazine, October 1899
The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists the circulation of their blood. ~Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts, 1931
Does age poison us, or do we poison age? ~Terri Guillemets
There is always some specific moment when we realize our youth is gone; but years after, we know it was much later. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1963
Wrinkles are Beauty's death-lines. ~James Lendall Basford (1845–1915), Sparks from the Philosopher's Stone, 1882
Our bodies are the burial grounds of dead time. ~Terri Guillemets ["Time! where didst thou those years inter, Which I have seene decease?" ~William Habington –tg]
[M]any appear to best advantage in old age, when their character assumes a gentler tone, as becomes men who have seen the world and take life easily. ~Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860), "The Ages of Life," Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit, translated by T. Bailey Saunders, 1891
The wings of time unfurl from a child, lift him from murky waters and soar him over mountain tops, to cradle an old man's soul. ~Susan Longmore, @Susan_Rodeo, May 2011 entry to The Quote Garden create your own quote contest on Twitter, @quotegarden
Age swallows our childhood. ~Terri Guillemets
Caring for two generations of family, one on either side of you, is common throughout midlife and can be overwhelming. ~Amanda Thebe, "When Menopause and Midlife Collide: Squeeze Generation," Menopocalypse, 2020, amandathebe.com
The periods of middle and old age are perhaps the finest, in some of the most important respects, through life. We dwell upon this the more, because we notice that too many of the tendencies of American city life so destroy the chances for this middle and old perfection, that it seems to have gone out of mind. No one seems to understand that there is attainable a high flush condition of stamina, strength, vigor, personality, clearness and manly beauty and love-power, thoroughly sustained many years, in perfect specimens of trained health, through middle and old age, towering in its ripeness and completeness, till it rivals and fully equals the best and handsomest specimens of early manhood — and indeed transcends them! ~Mose Velsor (Walt Whitman), "Manly Health and Training," New York Atlas, 1858 December 19th [Thanks, Zachary Turpin! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
I got up one day, young—
made a quick sandwich
threw back a cold beer—
then BAM! — I was old
just like that.
Youth is when you are allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you are forced to. ~Bill Vaughn (1915–1977), "Senator Soaper Says," 1958 [Thanks, quoteinvestigator.com! —tεᖇᖇ¡·g]
At a certain point, age becomes a triumph of spirit over loneliness. ~Terri Guillemets
Though the hair be gray,
Age have come to stay.
Wrinkles be the twinkles that a smile brings to the eyes.
If the heart keep youth
Then—ah, then, in truth
After all the laughter there will be no room for sighs.
~Wilbur D. Nesbit, "If the Heart Be Young," 1911
Been noticing wrinkles around my eyes, laugh crinkles, I guess, but for the life of me I can't remember the joke. ~Robert Brault, rbrault.blogspot.com
Middle age is a winding path through kaleidoscopic years. ~Terri Guillemets
But it is our duty, my young friends, to resist old age; to compensate for its defects by a watchful care; to fight against it as we would fight against disease; to adopt a regimen of health; to practice moderate exercise; and to take just enough of food and drink to restore our strength and not to overburden it. Nor, indeed, are we to give our attention solely to the body; much greater care is due to the mind and soul; for they, too, like lamps, grow dim with time, unless we keep them supplied with oil. ~Marcus Tullius Cicero
Age is a prison
we cannot escape
but only by death
into another world
Age is a defect which we never get over. ~Andy Rooney, "Birthdays," 1995, Years of Minutes, 2003
published 1999 Feb 16
revised 2016, 2017, 2021
last saved 2022 Oct 26