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Every pleasure defers to its last its greatest delights. ~ Seneca the Younger
One often says to oneself … that one ought to avoid having too many different businesses, to avoid becoming a jack-of-all-trades, and that the older one gets, the more one ought to avoid entering into new business. But … the very fact of growing older means taking up a new business; all our circumstances change, and we must either stop doing anything at all or else willing and consciously take on the new role we have to play on life’s stage. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense. ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. ~ Paul of Tarsus
Nothing is so hateful to the philistine as the "dreams of his youth." ... For what appeared to him in his dreams was the voice of the spirit, calling him once, as it does everyone. It is of this that youth always reminds him, eternally and ominously. That is why he is antagonistic toward youth. ~ Walter Benjamin

Ageing (British English) or aging (American English) is the ongoing process of becoming older. In the narrowed sense of explaining the term, refers to biological ageing of human beings, animals and other living organisms. In the broader sense, ageing can refer to single cells within an organism (cellular senescence), or to the population of a species-(population ageing).




  • When an untaught, run-of-the-mill person, himself subject to aging, not beyond aging, sees another who is aged, he is horrified, humiliated, & disgusted, oblivious to himself that he too is subject to aging, not beyond aging. If I – who am subject to aging, not beyond aging – were to be horrified, humiliated, & disgusted on seeing another person who is aged, that would not be fitting for me.
  • As I give thought to the matter, I find four causes for the apparent misery of old age; first, it withdraws us from active accomplishments; second, it renders the body less powerful; third, it deprives us of almost all forms of enjoyment; fourth, it stands not far from death.
    • Cicero, De Senectute (Of Old Age), book 5, section 15; reported in Herbert N. Couch, Cicero on the Art of Growing Old (1959), p. 21.
  • No one is so old that he does not think he could live another year.
  • Let no one be slow to seek wisdom when he is young nor weary in search thereof when he is grown old. For no age is too early or too late for the health of the soul. And to say that the season for studying philosophy has not yet come, or that it is past and gone, is like saying that the season for happiness is not yet or that it is now no more.
    • Diogenes Laertius, Lives of the Eminent Philosophers, 10.122, in Moral Exhortation (1986), p. 33.
  • "I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.
But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.
Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment."
  • Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite (Job 32:7-9).
  • Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man
  • εἰ καὶ ὁ ἔξω ἡμῶν ἄνθρωπος διαφθείρεται, ἀλλ’ ὁ ἔσω ἡμῶν ἀνακαινοῦται ἡμέρᾳ καὶ ἡμέρᾳ.

Sixteenth century

  • Age is deformed, youth unkind,
    We scorn their bodies, they our mind.
  • If youth only knew; if only age could.

Seventeenth century

  • An old goat is never the more reverend for his beard.
  • Old age is not so fiery as youth, but when once provoked cannot be appeased.
  • Age imprints more wrinkles on the mind than it does on the face.
  • En vieillissant, on devient plus fou et plus sage.
    As one grows older, one becomes wiser and more foolish.
    • François de La Rochefoucauld, Réflexions ou Sentences et Maximes Morales (1655); translation by Edward M. Stack (1956), p. 26; reported in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • La vieillesse est un tyran qui défend, sur peine de la vie, tous les plaisirs de la jeunesse.
    Old age is a tyrant who forbids, upon pain of death, all the pleasures of youth.
  • My God! my time is in Thine hands. Should it please Thee to lengthen my life, and complete, as Thou hast begun, the work of blanching my locks, grant me grace to wear them as an unsullied crown of honour.
    • Christian Scriver, Gotthold's Emblems (1667), translated by Robert Menzies (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1862), CCCXXIII, Grey Hairs, p. 422.
  • 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.

Eighteenth century

  • There are so few who can grow old with a good grace.
  • Like our shadows,
    Our wishes lengthen, as our sun declines.
    • Edward Young, Night-Thoughts (1742–1745), "Night Fifth: The Relapse", line 661

Nineteenth century

  • But now at thirty years my hair is gray––
    (I wonder what it will be like at forty?
    I thought of a peruke the other day)
    My heart is not much greener; and, in short, I
    Have squander'd my whole summer while 'twas May,
    And feel no more the spirit to retort; I
    Have spent my life, both interest and principal,
    And deem not, what I deem'd, my soul invincible.
  • There is an old age which has more youth of heart than youth itself.
  • It was a satisfactory thing to hear that the old gentleman was going to lead a new life, for it was pretty evident that his old one would not last him much longer.
    • Charles Dickens, Nicholas Nickleby, Chapter XVIII. Miss Knag, after Doting on Kate Nickleby for three Whole Days, Makes up her Mind to Hate her for Evermore. The Causes Which Lead Miss Knag to Form this Resolution.
  • When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.
  • There is nothing so unreasonable as infancy, excepting the maturer stages of life.
  • ... bledě modré oči [Slečny Elis] jistě padesátkráte viděly zemi v tom krásném jarním rouše.
    • ... [the] pale blue eyes [of Miss Elis] must have seen the earth fifty times in that beautiful spring robe.
  • Old age deprives the intelligent man only of qualities useless to wisdom.

Twentieth century

  • The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.
  • All the best sands of my life are somehow getting into the wrong end of the hourglass. If I could only reverse it! Were it in my power to do so, would I?
    • Thomas Bailey Aldrich, Ponkapog Papers (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 1903), "Leaves From a Notebook", p. 29
  • I still think of myself as I was 25 years ago. Then I look in a mirror and see an old bastard and I realize it's me.
  • I recently turned 60. Practically a third of my life is over.
  • When you're forty, half of you belongs to the past — and when you're seventy, nearly all of you.
  • The land of easy mathematics where he who works adds up and he who retires subtracts.
  • He was filled with terrible knowing: This day had been exactly as empty as the last and tomorrow would be the same. This is what it is to be old, Henry thought.
  • One of the more traumatic aspects of reaching age 40 is that you no longer have the same body you had when you were 21. I know I don't. Sometimes when I take a shower I look down at my body and I want to scream: "Hey, THIS isn't my body! THIS body belongs to Willard Scott!" But this is perfectly natural. Screaming in the shower, I mean. Reaching age 40, however, is NOT natural. I base this statement on extensive scientific documentation in the form of a newspaper article I vaguely remember reading once, which stated that the life expectancy for human beings in the wild is about 35 years. Think about what that means. It means that if you were in the wild, even in the nonsmoking section, by now you'd be Worm Chow. So we can clearly see that going past age 40 is basically an affront to Nature, with Exhibit A being the Gabor sisters.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990). New York: Crown Publishers, p. 17
  • Why do we get older? Why do our bodies wear out? Why can't we just go on and on and on, accumulating a potentially infinite number of Frequent Flier mileage points? These are the kinds of questions that philosophers have been asking ever since they realized that being a philosopher did not involve any heavy lifting. And yet the answer is really very simple: Our bodies are mechanical devices, and like all mechanical devices, they break down. Some devices, such as battery-operated toys costing $39.95, break down almost instantly upon exposure to the Earth's atmosphere. Other devices, such as stereo systems owned by your next-door neighbor's 13-year-old son who likes to listen to bands with names like "Nerve Damage" at a volume capable of disintegrating limestone, will continue to function perfectly for many years, even if you hit them with an ax. But the fundamental law of physics is that sooner or later every mechanism ceases to function for one reason or another, and it is never covered under the warranty.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990). New York: Crown Publishers, p. 19
  • As we know from slicing up dead worms in Biology Lab, the "parts" that make up this miraculous "mechanism" that we call the human body are called "cells"- billions and billions (even more, in the case of Marlon Brando) of organisms so tiny that we cannot see or hear them unless you have been using illegal narcotics. When you are very young, each of your cells, based on its individual personality and aptitude, selects an area of specialization, such as the thigh, in which to pursue its career. As you grow, the cell multiplies, and it teaches its offspring to be thigh cells also, showing them the various "tricks of the trade." Thus the proud thigh-cell tradition is handed down from generation to generation, providing you with thighs so sleek and taut that they look great even when encased in Spandex garments that would be a snug fit on a Bic pen. But as your body approaches middle age, this cellular discipline starts to break down. The newer cells- you know how it is with the young- start to challenge the conventional values of their elders. "What's so great about sleek and taut?" is what these newer cells would say, if they had mouths, which thank God they do not. They become listless and bored, and many of them, looking for "kicks," turn to cellulite. Your bodily tissue begins to deteriorate, gradually becoming saggier and lumpier, until one day you glance in the mirror and realize, to your horror, that you look as though for some reason you are attempting to smuggle out of the country an entire driveway's worth of gravel concealed inside your upper legs. And this very same process is going on all over your body.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990). New York: Crown Publishers, p. 19-20
  • Is there something you can do about it? You're darned right there is! You can fight back. Mister Old Age is not going to get you, by golly! All you need is a little determination- a willingness to get out of that reclining lounge chair, climb into that sweatsuit, lace on those running shoes, stride out that front door, and hurl yourself in front of that municipal bus.. No, wait. Sorry. For a moment there I got carried away by the bleakness of it all. Forget what I said. Really. There is absolutely no need to become suicidally depressed about the fact that every organ in your body is headed straight down the toilet. There really are things you can do to keep your body looking healthy and youthful for years to come. But before I discuss these things, I want you to answer the following questions honestly: Are you willing to make the hard sacrifices needed to be really healthy? Are you willing to commit yourself totally to a program of regular exercise, close medical supervision, and the elimination of all caffeine, alcohol, and rich foods, to be replaced by a strict diet of nutrition-rich, kelp-like plant growths so unappetizing that they will make you actually lust for tofu? Or are you the kind of shallow, irresponsible person who wants a purely cosmetic change, a "quick and dirty" surface gloss that may make you look young and healthy, but actually has no long-term value? Me too.
    • Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990). New York: Crown Publishers, p. 20-21
  • Old age is like learning a new profession. And not one of your own choosing.
    • Jacques Barzun, as quoted in “Age of Reason,” The New Yorker (2007-10-22), p. 103.
  • Nothing is so hateful to the philistine as the "dreams of his youth." ... For what appeared to him in his dreams was the voice of the spirit, calling him once, as it does everyone. It is of this that youth always reminds him, eternally and ominously. That is why he is antagonistic toward youth.
    • Walter Benjamin, "Experience" (1913), L. Spencer and S. Jost, trans., Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, volume 1 (1996), pp. 4-5
  • Age is strictly a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.
  • AGE, n. That period of life in which we compound for the vices that we still cherish by reviling those that we have no longer the enterprise to commit.
    • Ambrose Bierce, The Cynic's Dictionary (1906); republished as The Devil's Dictionary (1911).
  • Yet somehow our society must make it right and possible for old people not to fear the young or be deserted by them, for the test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members.
  • Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.
    • Attributed to Maurice-Auguste Chevalier in James B. Simpson, Contemporary Quotations (1964), p. 295, citing The New York Times (Sunday, October 9, 1960); reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • A man is as old as he's feeling, a woman is as old as she looks.
  • At times it seems to me that I am living my life backwards, and that at the approach of old age my real youth will begin. My soul was born covered with wrinkles—wrinkles my ancestors and parents most assiduously put there and that I had the greatest trouble removing.
    • André Gide, Pretexts, J. O’Brien, ed. (1964) pp. 319-320
  • To an old man any place that's warm is homeland.
  • Pilkington, at Mombasa, had produced individuals who were sexually mature at four and full-grown at six and a half. A scientific triumph. But socially useless. Six-year-old men and women were too stupid to do even Epsilon work. And the process was an all-or-nothing one; either you failed to modify at all, or else you modified the whole way. They were still trying to find the ideal compromise between adults of twenty and adults of six. So far without success. Mr. Foster sighed and shook his head.
  • This increase in the life span and in the number of our senior citizens presents this Nation with increased opportunities: the opportunity to draw upon their skill and sagacity—and the opportunity to provide the respect and recognition they have earned. It is not enough for a great nation merely to have added new years to life—our objective must also be to add new life to those years.
    • John F. Kennedy, special message to the Congress on the needs of the nation’s senior citizens (February 21, 1963); in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1963, p. 189.
  • Perhaps being old is having lighted rooms inside your head, and having people in them, acting. People you know, yet can't quite name.
  • I've changed my attitudes about what it means to age. Sometimes people decide it's their lot in life to be old, but people like Grandma bring color and excellence to their lives. That's what I've tried to do, too. I'm looking forward to the next stage.
    • Cloris Leachman, reported in Bill Adler, Funny Ladies: The Best Humor from America's Funniest Women (2001), p. 19.
  • Sometimes people grieve when they find old age coming upon them, when they find their vehicles not so strong as they used to be. They desire the strength and the faculties that they once had. It is wise for them to repress that desire, to realize that their bodies have done good work, and if they can no longer do the same amount as of yore, they should do gently and peacefully what they can, but not worry themselves over the change. Presently they will have new bodies; and the way to ensure a good vehicle is to make such use as one can of the old one, but in any case to be serene and calm and unruffled. The only way to do that is to forget self, to let all selfish desires cease, and to turn the thought outward to the helping of others as far as one’s capabilities go.
  • Never respect years, only deeds.
    • Tanith Lee, Drinking Sapphire Wine (1977), Part 3, Chapter 6
  • Old age has its pleasures, which though different, are not less than the pleasures of youth.
  • Growing old is no more than a bad habit which a busy man has no time to form.
    • André Maurois, The Art of Living (1940), chapter 8, p. 282–83, as translated by James Whitall.
  • The real affliction of old age is remorse.
  • The first symptom is that hair grows on your ears. It's very disconcerting.
  • There is something reassuring, too (at least, I find it so), in these renewals of former admirations. We all endeavour, as Spinoza says, to persist in our own being; and that endeavour is, he adds, the very essence of our existence. When, therefore, we find that what delighted us once can still delight us: that though the objects of our admiration may be intermittent, yet they move in fixed orbits, and their return is certain, these reappearances will suggest that we have after all maintained something of our own integrity; that a sort of system lies beneath the apparent variability of our interests; that there is, so to speak, a continuity within ourselves, a core of meaning which has not disintegrated with the years.
  • People don't grow up — they just begin to overestimate their own importance.
  • Old age is the most unexpected of things that can happen to a man.
  • 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.Youth means a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity of the appetite, for adventure over the love of ease. This often exists in a man of sixty more than a boy of twenty. 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.Whether sixty or sixteen, there is in every human being's heart the lure of wonder, the unfailing child-like appetite of what's next, and the joy of the game of living.
  • Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years; people grow old by deserting their ideals.
    • Samuel Ullman, "Youth," in The Silver Treasury: Prose and Verse for Every Mood (1934), p. 323–24.
  • No two moments in the life of an individual are exactly alike; there is between the later and the earlier periods only the similarity of the higher and lower parts of a spiral ascent.

Twenty-first century

The Doctor: I'm old enough to know that a longer life isn't always a better one. In the end, you just get tired; tired of the struggle, tired of losing everyone that matters to you, tired of watching everything you love turn to dust. If you live long enough, Lazarus, the only certainty left is that you'll end up alone. ~ Stephen Greenhorn
  • There are some people who imagine that older adults don't know how to use the internet. My immediate reaction is, "I've got news for you, we invented it."
    • Vint Cerf, a "father of the internet," quoted at age 73 in "Your Life: Vinton Cerf" interview by David Frank in AARP Bulletin (December 2016, Vol. 57, No. 10, p. 30.)
  • I am old now, or at least, I am no longer young, and everything I see reminds me of something else I’ve seen, such that I see nothing for the first time. A bonny girl, her hair fiery red, reminds me only of another hundred such lasses, and their mothers, and what they were as they grew, and what they looked like when they died. It is the curse of age, that all things are reflections of other things.
Lazarus: You're so sentimental, Doctor. Maybe you are older than you look.
The Doctor: I'm old enough to know that a longer life isn't always a better one. In the end, you just get tired; tired of the struggle, tired of losing everyone that matters to you, tired of watching everything you love turn to dust. If you live long enough, Lazarus, the only certainty left is that you'll end up alone.
Lazarus: That's a price worth paying.
The Doctor: Is it?
  • Nothing makes a man feel older than a young woman.
  • Older people are most beautiful when they have what is lacking in the young: poise, erudition, wisdom, phronesis, and this post-heroic absence of agitation.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms (2010) Chance, Success, Happiness, and Stoicism, p. 24.
  • With age came wisdom. Sometimes wisdom came with an ass kicking, too. And nothing could kick ass like the whole world.
  • With age comes wisdom. Or at least experience.
  • Much of aging comes from a misunderstanding of the effect of comfort.
    • Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder (2012) Ch. 3. The Cat and the Washing Machine, p. 55.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 12-17.
  • It is always in season for old men to learn.
  • Weak withering age no rigid law forbids,
    With frugal nectar, smooth and slow with balm,
    The sapless habit daily to bedew,
    And give the hesitating wheels of life
    Gliblier to play.
    • John Armstrong, The Art of Preserving Health (1744), Book II, line 484.
  • What is it to grow old?
    Is it to lose the glory of the form,
    The lustre of the eye?
    Is it for Beauty to forego her wreath?
    Yes; but not this alone.
  • On one occasion some one put a very little wine into a wine cooler, and said that it was sixteen years old. "It is very small for its age," said Gnathæna.
  • Men of age object too much, consult too long, adventure too little, repent too soon, and seldom drive business home to the full period, but content themselves with a mediocrity of success.
  • Old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.
  • Old age comes on apace to ravage all the clime.
  • An old man in a house is a good sign in a house.
    • Ascribed to Ben Syra (from the Hebrew).
  • Old age doth in sharp pains abound;
    We are belabored by the gout,
    Our blindness is a dark profound,
    Our deafness each one laughs about.
    Then reason's light with falling ray
    Doth but a trembling flicker cast.
    Honor to age, ye children pay!
    Alas! my fifty years are past!
  • By candle-light nobody would have taken you for above five-and-twenty.
  • What is the worst of woes that wait on age?
    What stamps the wrinkle deeper on the brow?
    To view each loved one blotted from life's page,
    And be alone on earth as I am now.
  • He has grown aged in this world of woe,
    In deeds, not years, piercing the depths of life.
    So that no wonder waits him.
  • Just as old age is creeping on apace,
    And clouds come o'er the sunset of our day,
    They kindly leave us, though not quite alone,
    But in good company—the gout or stone.
  • My days are in the yellow leaf;
    The flowers and fruits of love are gone;
    The worm, the canker, and the grief
    Are mine alone!
    • Lord Byron, On this day I complete my Thirty-sixth Year.
  • For oute of olde feldys, as men sey,
    Comyth al this newe corn
    from yere to yere;
    And out of olde bokis, in good fey,
    Comyth al this newe science that men lere.
  • I think every man is a fool or a physician at thirty years of age.
    • Dr. Cheyne.
  • Mature fieri senem, si diu velis esse senex.
    You must become an old man in good time if you wish to be an old man long.
    • Cicero, De Senectute, 10 (quoted as an "honoured proverb.").
  • The spring, like youth, fresh blossoms doth produce,
    But autumn makes them ripe and fit for use:
    So Age a mature mellowness doth set
    On the green promises of youthful heat.
  • His eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
    • Deuteronomy, XXXIV. 7.
  • Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret.
  • The Disappointment of Manhood succeeds to the delusion of Youth; let us hope that the heritage of Old Age is not Despair.
  • No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace
    As I have seen in one Autumnal face.
    • John Donne, Ninth Elegy, To Lady Magdalen Herbert.
  • Fate seem'd to wind him up for fourscore years;
    Yet freshly ran he on ten winters more;
    Till like a clock worn put with eating time,
    The wheels of weary life at last stood still.
  • His hair just grizzled
    As in a green old age.
  • Forsake not an old friend; for the new is not comparable to him: a new friend is as new wine; when it is old, thou shalt drink it with pleasure.
  • We do not count a man's years, until he has nothing else to count.
  • Remote from cities liv'd a Swain,
    Unvex'd with all the cares of gain;
    His head was silver'd o'er with age,
    And long experience made him sage.
    • John Gay, Fables (1727), Part I, The Shepherd and the Philosopher.
  • In a good old age.
  • Old and well stricken in age.
  • She may very well pass for forty-three,
    In the dusk with a light behind her.
  • One often says to oneself … that one ought to avoid having too many different businesses, to avoid becoming a jack-of-all-trades, and that the older one gets, the more one ought to avoid entering into new business. But … the very fact of growing older means taking up a new business; all our circumstances change, and we must either stop doing anything at all or else willing and consciously take on the new role we have to play on life’s stage.
  • Das Alter macht nicht kindisch, wie man spricht,
    Es findet uns nur noch als wahre Kinder
    Age childish makes, they say, but 'tis not true;
    We're only genuine children still in Age's season.
  • Old age is courteous—no one more:
    For time after time he knocks at the door,
    But nobody says, "Walk in, sir, pray!"
    Yet turns he not from the door away,
    But lifts the latch, and enters with speed,
    And then they cry, "A cool one, indeed."
  • O blest retirement! friend to life's decline—
    Retreats from care, that never must be mine
    How blest is he who crowns, in shades like these,
    A youth of labour with an age of ease!
  • I love everything that's old: old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.
  • They say women and music should never be dated.
  • Alike all ages: dames of ancient days
    Have led their children thro' the mirthful maze,
    And the gay grandsire, skill'd in gestic lore,
    Has frisk'd beneath the burthen of threescore.
  • Slow-consuming age.
    • Thomas Gray, Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College (1742), Stanza 9.
  • Struggle and turmoil, revel and brawl—
    Youth is the sign of them, one and all.
    A smoldering hearth and a silent stage—
    These are a type of the world of Age.
  • To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.
  • You hear that boy laughing? You think he's all fun;
    But the angels laugh, too, at the good he has done.
    The children laugh loud as they troop to his call.
    And the poor man that knows him laughs loudest of all!
  • A green old age, unconscious of decays,
    That proves the hero born in better days.
    • Homer, The Iliad, Book XXIII, line 925. Pope's translation.
  • When he's forsaken,
    Wither'd and shaken,
    What can an old man do but die?
  • Tempus abire tibi est, ne…
    Rideat et pulset lasciva decentius ætas
    It is time for thee to be gone, lest the age more decent in its wantonness should laugh at thee and drive thee off the stage.
    • Horace, Epistles, Book II. 2. 215.
  • Boys must not have th' ambitious care of men,
    Nor men the weak anxieties of age.
    • Horace, Of the Art of Poetry, Wentworth Dillon's trans, line 212.
  • Seu me tranquilla senectus
    Exspectat, seu mors atris circumvolat alis
    Either a peaceful old age awaits me, or death flies round me with black wings.
    • Horace, Satires, Book II. 1. 57.
  • Ladies, stock and tend your hive,
    Trifle not at thirty-five;
    For, howe'er we boast and strive,
    Life declines from thirty-five;
    He that ever hopes to thrive
    Must begin by thirty-five.
  • Superfluous lags the veteran on the stage,
    Till pitying Nature signs the last release,
    And bids afflicted worth retire to peace.
  • L'on craint la vieillesse, que l'on n'est pas sûr de pouvoir atteindre.
    We dread old age, which we are not sure of being able to attain.
  • L'on espère de vieillir, et l'on craint la vieillesse; c'est-à-dire, l'on aime la vie et l'on fuit la mort.
    We hope to grow old and we dread old age; that is to say, we love life and we flee from death.
  • How far the gulf-stream of our youth may flow
    Into the arctic regions of our lives,
    Where little else than life itself survives.
  • 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.
  • And the bright faces of my young companions
    Are wrinkled like my own, or are no more.
  • The course of my long life hath reached at last,
    In fragile bark o'er a tempestuous sea,
    The common harbor, where must rendered be,
    Account of all the actions of the past.
  • Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling, of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.
  • What find you better or more honorable than age? Take the preeminence of it in everything;—in an old friend, in old wine, in an old pedigree.
  • When you try to conceal your wrinkles, Polla, with paste made from beans, you deceive yourself, not me. Let a defect, which is possibly but small, appear undisguised. A fault concealed is presumed to be great.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book III, Epistle 42.
  • Set is the sun of my years;
    And over a few poor ashes,
    I sit in my darkness and tears.
  • Old wood to burn! Old wine to drink! Old friends to trust! Old authors to read!—Alonso of Aragon was wont to say in commendation of age, that age appeared to be best in these four things.
    • Melchior, Floresta Española de Apothegmas o Sentencias, etc., II. 1. 20.
  • The ages roll
    Forward; and forward with them, draw my soul
    Into time's infinite sea.
    And to be glad, or sad, I care no more;
    But to have done, and to have been, before I cease to do and be.
    • Owen Meredith (Lord Lytton), The Wanderer, Book IV, A Confession and Apology, Stanza 9.
  • So may'st thou live, till like ripe fruit thou drop
    Into thy mother's lap, or be with ease
    Gather'd, not harshly pluck'd, for death mature.
  • So Life's year begins and closes;
    Days, though short'ning, still can shine;
    What though youth gave love and roses,
    Age still leaves us friends and wine.
  • We age inevitably:
    The old joys fade and are gone:
    And at last comes equanimity and the flame burning clear.
  • Thyself no more deceive, thy youth hath fled.
    • Petrarch, To Laura in Death, Sonnet LXXXII.
  • Senex cum extemplo est, jam nec sentit, nec sapit;
    Ajunt solere eum rursum repuerascere.
    When a man reaches the last stage of life,—without senses or mentality—they say that he has grown a child again.
  • Why will you break the Sabbath of my days?
    Now sick alike of Envy and of Praise.
  • Learn to live well, or fairly make your will;
    You've played, and loved, and ate, and drank your fill.
    Walk sober off, before a sprightlier age
    Comes tittering on, and shoves you from the stage.
  • Me let the tender office long engage
    To rock the cradle of reposing age;
    With lenient arts extend a mother's breath,
    Make languor smile, and smooth the bed of death;
    Explore the thought, explain the asking eye!
    And keep awhile one parent from the sky.
  • His leaf also shall not wither.
  • The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
  • So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
  • Das Alter ist nicht trübe weil darin unsere Freuden, sondern weil unsere Hoffnungen aufhören.
    What makes old age so sad is, not that our joys but that our hopes cease.
  • The longer I live, the more urgent it seems to me to endure and transcribe the whole dictation of existence up to its end, for it might just be the case that only the very last sentence contains that small and possibly inconspicuous word through which everything we had struggled to learn and everything we had failed to understand will be transformed suddenly into magnificent sense.
  • Age has now
    Stamped with its signet that ingenuous brow.
  • O, roses for the flush of youth,
    And laurel for the perfect prime;
    But pluck an ivy branch for me,
    Grown old before my time.
  • I'm growing fonder of my staff;
    I'm growing dimmer in the eyes;
    I'm growing fainter in my laugh;
    I'm growing deeper in my sighs;
    I'm growing careless of my dress;
    I'm growing frugal of my gold;
    I'm growing wise; I'm growing,—yes,—
    I'm growing old.
    • Saxe, I'm Growing Old.
  • On his bold visage middle age
    Had slightly press'd its signet sage.
    • Walter Scott, Lady of the Lake (1810), Canto I, Part XXI. (1810).
  • Thus pleasures fade away;
    Youth, talents, beauty, thus decay,
    And leave us dark, forlorn, and gray.
    • Walter Scott, Marmion (1808), introduction to Canto II, Stanza 7.
  • Thus aged men, full loth and slow,
    The vanities of life forego,
    And count their youthful follies o'er,
    Till Memory lends her light no more.
  • Old friends are best. King James us'd to call for his Old Shoes, they were easiest for his Feet.
  • Nihil turpius est, quam grandis natu senex, qui nullum aliud habet argumentum, quo se probet diu vixisse, præter ætatem.
    Nothing is more dishonourable than an old man, heavy with years, who has no other evidence of his having lived long except his age.
  • Turpis et ridicula res est elementarius senex: juveni parandum, seni utendum est.
    An old man in his rudiments is a disgraceful object. It is for youth to acquire, and for age to apply.
  • Senectus insanabilis morbus est.
    Old age is an incurable disease.
  • Every pleasure defers to its last its greatest delights.
  • Though I look old, yet I am strong and lusty;
    For in my youth I never did apply
    Hot and rebellious liquors in my blood;
    Nor did not with unbashful forehead woo
    The means of weakness and debility;
    Therefore my age is as a lusty winter,
    Frosty, but kindly.
  • All the world's a stage,
    And all the men and women merely players:
    They have their exits and their entrances;
    And one man in his time plays many parts,
    His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
    Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
    And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
    And shining morning face, creeping like snail
    Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
    Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
    Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
    Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
    Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
    Seeking the bubble reputation
    Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
    In fair round belly with good capon lined,
    With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
    Full of wise saws and modern instances;
    And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
    Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
    With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
    His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
    For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
    Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
    And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
    • William Shakespeare, As You Like It (c.1599-1600), Act II, scene 7, line 139. Same idea in Jean de Courcy—Le Chemin de Vaillance. Copy in British Museum, King's MSS. No. 14. E, II. See also Horace—Ars Poetica. 158. (Ages given as four). In the Mishna, the ages are given as 14, by Jehuda, son of Thema. In Plato's (spurious) Dialog. Axiochus, Socrates sums up human life.
  • Though now this grained face of mine be hid
    In sap-consuming winter's drizzled snow,
    And all the conduits of my blood froze up,
    Yet hath my night of life some memory.
  • What should we speak of
    When we are old as you? When we shall hear
    The rain and wind beat dark December.
  • At your age,
    The hey-day in the blood is tame, it's humble,
    And waits upon the judgment.
  • Pray, do not mock me:
    I am a very foolish fond old man,
    Fourscore and upward; not an hour more nor less,
    And, to deal plainly,
    I fear I am not in my perfect mind.
  • My way of life
    Is fallen into the sear, the yellow leaf,
    And that which should accompany old age,
    As honor, love, obedience, troops of friends,
    I must not look to have; but, in their stead,
    Curses not loud, but deep, mouth-honor breath,
    Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.
  • "You are old, Father William," the young man cried,
    "The few locks which are left you are gray;
    You are hale, Father William,—a hearty old man:
    Now tell me the reason, I pray."
  • When an old gentleman waggles his head and says: "Ah, so I thought when I was your age," it is not thought an answer at all, if the young man retorts: "My venerable sir, so I shall most probably think when I am yours." And yet the one is as good as the other.
  • Every man desires to live long; but no man would be old.
  • I swear she's no chicken; she's on the wrong side of thirty, if she be a day.
  • Vetera extollimus recentium incuriosi.
    We extol ancient things, regardless of our own times.
  • Vetera semper in laude, præsentia in fastidio.
    Old things are always in good repute, present things in disfavour.
    • Tacitus, Dialogue de Oratoribus, 18.
  • An old man is twice a child.
  • O good gray head which all men knew.
  • Age too shines out: and, garrulous, recounts the feats of youth.
  • Annus enim octogesimus admonet me, ut sarcinas colligam, antequam proficiscare vita.
    For my eightieth year warns me to pack up my baggage before I leave life.
    • Varro, De Re Rustica, I, 1.
  • For Age with stealing steps
    Hath clawed me with his crutch.
    • Thomas Vaux, The Aged Lover renounceth Love. (Quoted in Hamlet, Act V, scene 1. Not in quartos).
  • Omnia fert ætas, animum quoque.
    Age carries all things away, even the mind.
    • Virgil, Eclogues (c. 37 BC), IX. 51.
  • Venerable men! you have come down to us from a former generation. Heaven has bounteously lengthened out your lives, that you might behold this joyous day.
    • Daniel Webster, Address at Laying the Corner-Stone of the Bunker Hill Monument (June 17, 1825).
  • Is not old wine wholesomest, old pippins toothsomest, old wood burn brightest, old linen wash whitest? Old soldiers, sweetheart, are surest, and old lovers are soundest.
  • Thus fares it still in our decay,
    And yet the wiser mind
    Mourns less for what age takes away
    Than what it leaves behind.
  • But an old age serene and bright,
    And lovely as a Lapland night,
    Shall lead thee to thy grave.
  • The monumental pomp of age
    Was with this goodly Personage;
    A stature undepressed in size,
    Unbent, which rather seemed to rise
    In open victory o'er the weight
    Of seventy years, to loftier height.

Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895)


Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).

  • An aged Christian with the snow of time on his head may remind us that those points of earth are whitest that are nearest heaven.
  • Thanks to that regular and temperate course of life I have ever lived, I am still capable of taking an active part in these public scenes of business. In fine, he who fills up every hour of his life in such kind of labors as those I have mentioned, will insensibly slide into old age without perceiving its arrival; and his powers, instead of being suddenly and prematurely extinguished, will gradually decline by the gentle and natural effect of accumulated years.
  • The day of life spent in honest and benevolent labor comes in hope to an evening calm and lovely; and though the sun declines, the shadows that he leaves behind are only to curtain the spirit unto rest.
  • It is not so bad a thing to grow old; it is only getting a little nearer home; a little nearer to immortal youth.
  • Age is not all decay; it is the ripening, the swelling of the fresh life within, that withers and bursts the husk.
  • The second childhood of a saint is the early infancy of a happy immortality, as we believe.
  • The years of old age are stalls in the cathedral of life in which for aged men to sit and listen and meditate and be patient till the service is over, and in which they may get themselves ready to say "Amen" at the last, with all their hearts and souls and strength.

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