Quotations about   age

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Age is truly a time of heroic helplessness. One is confronted by one’s own incorrigibility. I am always saying to myself, “Look at you, and after a lifetime of trying.” I still have the vices that I have known and struggled with — well it seems like since birth. Many of them are modified, but not much. I can neither order nor command the hubbub of my mind.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
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CHORUS: It won’t do you any harm, my Lord, to listen to him and see if what he says is wise. And you, too Haemon. Because both of you spoke well.
CREON: At our age? Should we allow a young little rooster to teach us wisdom?
HAEMON: Justice only. Young or old, one does not look at years but deeds.

Χορός: ἄναξ, σέ τ᾽ εἰκός, εἴ τι καίριον λέγει,
μαθεῖν, σέ τ᾽ αὖ τοῦδ᾽: εὖ γὰρ εἴρηται διπλῇ.
Κρέων: οἱ τηλικοίδε καὶ διδαξόμεσθα δὴ
φρονεῖν ὑπ᾽ ἀνδρὸς τηλικοῦδε τὴν φύσιν;
Αἵμων: μηδὲν τὸ μὴ δίκαιον: εἰ δ᾽ ἐγὼ νέος,
οὐ τὸν χρόνον χρὴ μᾶλλον ἢ τἄργα σκοπεῖν.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Antigone, l. 724ff (441 BC) [tr. Theodoridis (2004)]
    (Source)

Original Greek. Alternate translations:

CHORUS: Sire, thou shouldst learn where he has hit the mark:
Thou too from him: for both have spoken well.
KREON: And shall we, in our riper age, receive
Lessons in prudence from his youthful mind?
HÆMON: Is nought but what is just. If I am young,
'Tis meet to scan my purpose, not my years.
[tr. Donaldson (1848)]

CHORUS: If he says aught in season, heed him, King.
Heed thou thy sire too; both have spoken well.
CREON: What, would you have us at our age be schooled,
Lessoned in prudence by a beardless boy?
HAEMON: I plead for justice, father, nothing more.
Weigh me upon my merit, not my years.
[tr. Campbell (1873)]

CHORUS: My lord, 'twere wise, if thou wouldst learn of him
In reason; and thou, Haemon, from thy sire!
Truth lies between you.
CREON: Shall our age, forsooth,
Be taught discretion by a peevish boy?
HAEMON: Only in what is right. Respects of time
Must be outbalanced by the actual need.
[tr. Storr (1859)]

CHORUS: My king, it is right, if he speaks something appropriate, that you should learn from him and that you, in turn, Haemon, should learn from your father. On both sides there have been wise words.
CREON: Men of my age -- are we, then, to be schooled in wisdom by men of his?
HAEMON: Not in anything that is not right. But if I am young, you should look to my conduct, not to my years.
[tr. Jebb (1891)]

CHORUS: O King! if right the youth advise, 'tis fit
That thou shouldst listen to hi: so to thee
Should he attend, as best may profit both.
CREON: And have we lived so long, then, to be taught,
At last, our duty by a boy like thee?
HÆMON: Young though I am, I still may judge aright;
Wisdom in action lies and not in years.
[tr. Werner (1892)]

CHORUS: Sire, 'tis meet that thou shouldest profit by his words, if he speaks aught in season, and thou, Haemon, by thy father's; for on both parts there hath been wise speech.
CREON: Men of my age -- are we indeed to be schooled, then, by men of his?
HAEMON: In nothing that is not right; but if I am young, thou shouldest look to my merits, not to my years.
[tr. Jebb (1917)]

CHORAGOS: You will do well to listen to him, King,
If what he says is sensible. And you, Haimon,
Must listen to your father. -- Both speak well.
CREON: You consider it right for a man of my years and experience
To go to school to a boy?
HAIMON: It is not right
If I am wrong. But if I am young, and right,
What does my age matter?
[tr. Fitts/Fitzgerald (1939)]

CHORUS: There is something to be said, my lord, for this point of view,
And for yours as well; there is so much to be said on both sides.
CREON: Indeed! Am I to take lessons at my time of life
From a fellow of his age?
HAEMON: No lesson you need to be ashamed of.
It isn’t a question of age, but of right and wrong.
[tr. Watling (1947), l. 620ff]

CHORUS: Lord, if your son has spoken to the point
you should take his lesson. He should do the same.
Both sides have spoken well.
CREON: At my age I'm to school my mind by his?
This boy instructor is my master, then?
HAEMON: I urge no wrong. I'm young, but you should watch
my actions, not my years, to judge of me.
[tr. Wyckoff (1954)]

CHORUS: My lord, he has not spoken foolishly;
You each can learn something from the other.
CREON: What? Men of our age go to school again
And take a lesson from a very boy?
HAEMON: If it is worth the taking. I am young,
But think what should be done, not of my age.
[tr. Kitto (1962)]

LEADER: You'd do well, my lord, if he's speaking to the point,
to learn from him, and you, my boy, from him.
You are both talking sense.
CREON: So,
men our age, we're to be lectured, are we? --
schooled by a boy his age?
HAEMON: Only in what is right. But if I seem young,
look less to my years and more to what I do.
[tr. Fagles (1982)]

CHORUS: Sir, you should learn from him, if he is on the mark.
And you, Haemon, learn from your father. Both sides spoke well.
CREON: Do you really think, at our age,
We should be taught by a boy like him?
HAEMON: No. Not if I am in the wrong. I admit I'm young;
That's why you should look at what I do, not my age.
[tr. Woodruff (2001)]

CORYPHAEUS: Lord, it is fair, if he says something to the point, for you to learn,
and in turn for you from him. It has been well said well twice.
CREON: Are we at our age to be taught
in exercising good sense by a man of his age?
HAEMON: Yes, in nothing that is not just. Even if I am young,
you should not see my years more than my deeds.
[tr. Tyrell/Bennett (2002)]

CHORUS LEADER: My lord, if what he’s said is relevant,
it seems appropriate to learn from him,
and you too, Haemon, listen to the king.
The things which you both said were excellent.
CREON: And men my age -- are we then going to school
to learn what’s wise from men as young as him?
HAEMON: There’s nothing wrong in that. And if I’m young,
don’t think about my age -- look at what I do.
[tr. Johnston (2005), l. 820ff]

CHORUS: My lord, if someone speaks in season, you should learn, and you also, for both sides have spoken well.
CREON: At our age, taught reason by a man so young?
HAEMON: Taught nothing that is not just! If I am young, I do not need more time to study what's right.
[tr. Thomas (2005)]
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If you survive long enough, you’re revered — rather like an old building.

Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) American actress
In Michael Freedland, Katharine Hepburn (1984)

A longer form of this is quoted in Susan Ware, Letter to the World: Seven Women Who Shaped the American Century (1998): "Well, it's just a question of survival. If you survive long enough, you're revered, rather like an old building. The great trick is to get over the middle period. That's the tricky bit."

A variant is found in the Celebrity Register (1986): "If you survive you become a legend. I'm a legend because I've survived over a long period of time. I'm revered rather like an old building."
Added on 3-Feb-21 | Last updated 3-Feb-21
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The good things of youth are strength and beauty, but the flower of age is moderation.

[Ἰσχὺς καὶ εὐμορφίη νεότητος ἀγαθά, γήραος δὲ σωφροσύνη ἄνθος.]

Democritus (c. 460 BC - c. 370 BC) Greek philosopher
Frag. 294 (Diels) [tr. Freeman (1948)]
    (Source)

Diels citation: "294. (205 N.)"; ; collected in Joannes Stobaeus (Stobaios) Anthologium IV, 115, 19.

Alternate translations:

  • "The good things of youth are strength and beauty; moderation is the flower of age." [Source]
  • "Strength and beauty are the blessings of youth; temperance, however, is the flower of old age."
Added on 26-Jan-21 | Last updated 23-Feb-21
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The critic who at forty believes the same things he believed at twenty is either a genius or a jackass.

George Jean Nathan (1892-1958) American editor and critic
The World in Falseface, “Art & Criticism,” #62 (1923)
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When we are children, we have childish interests, but do young men miss them? And when we are middle-aged, do we want what young men want? Similarly, old men are not remotely involved in the needs of middle age; they have their own. Therefore we may argue that as the concerns of each earlier stage of life fade away, so eventually do those of old age. And when that happens, we have had enough of life and we are ready for death.

[Omnino, ut mihi quidem videtur studiorum omnium satietas vitae facit satietatem. Sunt pueritiae studia certa: num igitur ea desiderant adulescentes? Sunt ineuntis adulescentiae: num ea constans iam requirit aetas, quae media dicitur? Sunt etiam eius aetatis: ne ea quidem quaeruntur in senectute. Sunt extrema quaedam studia senectutis: ergo, ut superiorum aetatum studia occidunt, sic occidunt etiam senectutis; quod cum evenit, satietas vitae tempus maturum mortis affert.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Cato Maior de Senectute [Discourse on Old Age], ch. 20 / sec. 76 (44 BC) [tr. Cobbold (2012)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

Truly me thinks that the satiety of all things makes also a satiety of life. There are certain studies in children, shall young men desire them? there are others in youth, shall age require them? and there be studies in the last age: therefore as the studies of former ages fail, so do the studies of old age, so that when the satiety or fulnesse of life commeth, it bringeth also a fit time for death.
[tr. Austin (17th C)]

By living long we come to a Satiety in all things besides and this should naturally lead us to a Satiety of Life itself. Children we see have their particular Diversions; and does Youth, when past Childhood, pursue or desire the same? Youth also has its peculiar Exercises; and does full Manhood require these as before? Or has Old Age the same Inclinations that prevailed in more vigorous Years? We ought then to conclude, That as there is a Succession of Pursuits and Pleasures in the several Stages of Life, the one dying away, as the other advances and takes Place; so in the same Manner are those of Old Age to pass off in their Turn. And when this Satiety of Life has fully ripen'd us, we are then quietly to lie down in Death, as our last Resting-Place, where all Anxiety ends, and Cares and Fears subsist no more.
[tr. Logan (1734)]

The distaste with which, in passing through the several stages of our present being, we leave behind us the respective enjoyments peculiar to each; must necessarily, I should think, in the close of its latest period, render life itself no longer desirable. Infancy and youth, manhood and old age, have each of them their peculiar and appropriate pursuits. But does youth regret the toys of infancy, or manhood lament that no longer as a taste for the amusements of youth? The season of manhood has also its suitable objects, that are exchanged for others in old age; and these too, like all the preceding, become languid and insipt in their turn. Now when this state of absolute satiety is at length arrived; when we have enjoyed the satisfactions peculiar to old age, till we have no longer any relish remaining for them; it is then that death may justly be considered as a mature an seasonable event.
[tr. Melmoth (1773)]

In fine, satiety of life, as it seems to me, creates satiety of pursuits of every kind. There are certain pursuits belonging to boyhood; do grown-up young men therefore long for them? There are others appertaining to early youth; are they required in the sedate period of life which we call middle age? This, too, has its own pursuits, and they are not sought in old age. As the pursuits of earlier periods of life fail, so in like manner do those of old age. When this period is reached, satiety of life brings a season ripe for death.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

On the whole, as it seems to me indeed, a satiety of all pursuits causes a satiety of life. There are pursuits peculiar to boyhood; do therefore young men regret the loss of them? There are also some of early youth; does that now settled age, which is called middle life, seek after these? There are also some of this period; neither are they looked for by old age. There are some final pursuits of old age; accordingly, as the pursuits of the earlier parts of life fall into disuse, so also do those of old age; and when this has taken place, satiety of life brings on the seasonable period of death.
[tr. Edmonds (1865)]

As a general truth, as it seems to me, it is weariness of all pursuits that creates weariness of life. There are certain pursuits adapted to childhood: do young men miss them? There are others suited to early manhood: does that settled time of life called "middle age" ask for them? There are others, again, suited to that age, but not looked for in old age. There are, finally, some which belong to old age. Therefore, as the pursuits of the earlier ages have their time for disappearing, so also have those of old age. And when that takes place, a satiety of life brings on the ripe time for death.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

To put it in a word, it seems to me
'Tis weariness of all pursuits that makes
A weary age. We have pursuits as boys,
Do young men want them? Others yet there are
Suited to growing years, are they required
By those who've reached what's termed "the middle age"?
That too enjoys its own, but are they fit
For us old me? We have our own of course,
And as the others end, just so do ours,
And when it happens, weariness of life
Proclaims that ripeness which precedes our death.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

Undoubtedly, as it seems to me at least, satiety of all pursuits causes satiety of life. Boyhood has certain pursuits: does youth yearn for them? Early youth has its pursuits: does the matured or so-called middle stage of life need them? Maturity, too, has such as are not even sought in old age, and finally, there are those suitable to old age. Therefore as the pleasures and pursuits of the earlier periods of life fall away, so also do those of old age; and when that happens man has his fill of life and the time is ripe for him to go.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

It seems to me you have had enough of life when you have had your fill of all its activities. Little boys enjoy certain things, but older youths to not yearn for these. Young adulthood has its delights, but middle age does not desire them. There are also pleasures of middle age, but these are not sought in old age. And so, justas the pleasures of earlier ages fall away, so do those of old age. When this happens, you have had enough of life, and it is time for you to pass on.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]
Added on 15-Dec-20 | Last updated 15-Dec-20
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Age puzzles me. I thought it was a quiet time. My seventies were interesting and fairly serene, but my eighties are passionate. I grow more intense as I age.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
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In short, while you have Strength, use it; when it leaves you, no more repine for the want of it, than you did when Lads, that your Childhood was past; or at the Years of Manhood, that you were no longer Boys. The Stages of Life are fixed; Nature is the same in all, and goes on in a plain and steady Course: Every Part of Life, like the Year, has its peculiar Season: As Children are by Nature weak, Youth is rash and bold; staid Manhood more solid and grave; and so Old-Age in its Maturity, has something natural to itself, that ought particularly to recommend it.

[Denique isto bono utare, dum adsit, cum absit, ne requiras: nisi forte adulescentes pueritiam, paulum aetate progressi adulescentiam debent requirere. cursus est certus aetatis et una via naturae eaque simplex, suaque cuique parti aetatis tempestivitas est data, ut et infirmitas puerorum et ferocitas iuvenum et gravitas iam constantis aetatis et senectutis maturitas naturale quiddam habet, quod suo tempore percipi debeat.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Cato Maior de Senectute [Discourse on Old Age], ch. 10 / sec. 33 (44 BC) [tr. Logan (1734)]
    (Source)

Original Latin. Alt. trans.:

To conclude, use that strength which you have while you have it; but when it is gone, require it not, unlesse you thinke it a seemly thing of young men, to require their child-hood againe, and ancient men their youth; There is but one course of age, and one way of nature, and the same simple, and to every part of age its own timelines is given; for as infirmity belongs to child-hood, fiercenesse to youth, and gravity to age, so the true ripe∣nesse of age hath a certaine natural gravity in it, which ought to be used in it own time.
[tr. Austin (17th C)]

In a word, my friends, make a good use of your youthful vigour so long as it remains; but never let it cost you a sign when age shall have withdrawn it from you; as reasonably indeed might youth regret the loss of infancy, or mahood the extinction of youth. Nature conducts us, by a regular and insensible progression through the different seasons of human life; to each of which she has annexed its proper and distinguishing characteristic. As imbecility is the attribute of infancy, ardour of youth, and gravity of manhood; so declining age has its essential properties, which gradually disclose themselves as years increase.
[tr. Melmoth (1820)]

In fine, I would have you use strength of body while you have it: when it fails, I would not have you complain of its loss, unless you think it fitting for young men to regret their boyhood, or for those who have passed on a little farther in life to want their youth back again. Life has its fixed course, and nature one unvarying way; each age has assigned to it what best suits it, so that the fickleness of boyhood, the sanguine temper of youth, the soberness of riper years, and the maturity of old age, equally have something in harmony with nature, which ought to be made availing in its season.
[tr. Peabody (1884)]

In fine, enjoy that blessing when you have it; when it is gone, don't wish it back -- unless we are to think that young men should wish their childhood back, and those somewhat older their youth! The course of life is fixed, and nature admits of its being run but in one way, and only once; and to each part of our life there is something specially seasonable; so that the feebleness of children, as well as the high spirit of youth, the soberness of maturer years, and the ripe wisdom of old age -- all have a certain natural advantage which should be secured in its proper season.
[tr. Shuckburgh (1895)]

Use then the gifts you have:
When gone, regret them not: unless as men
You are to ask for boyhood to return,
When older ask for you: there still must be
A certain lapse of years; one only way
Nature pursues, and that a simple one:
To each is given what is fit for him.
The boy is weak: youth is more full of fire:
Increasing years have more of soberness:
And as in age there is a ripeness too.
Each should be garnered at its proper time,
And made the most of.
[tr. Allison (1916)]

In short, enjoy the blessing of strength while you have it and do not bewail it when it is gone, unless, forsooth, you believe that youth must lament the loss of infancy, or early manhood the passing of youth. Life's race-course is fixed; Nature has only a single path and that path is run but once, and to each stage of existence has been allotted its own appropriate quality; so that the weakness of childhood, the impetuosity of youth, the seriousness of middle life, the maturity of old age -- each bears some of Nature's fruit, which must be garnered in its own season.
[tr. Falconer (1923)]

In short, enjoy the blessing of bodily strength while you have it, but don't mourn when it passes away, any more than a young man should lament the end of boyhood, or a mature man the passing of youth. The course of life cannot change. Nature has but a single path and you travel it only once. Each stage of life has its own appropriate qualities -- weakness in childhood, boldness in youth, seriousness in middle age, and maturity in old age. These are fruits that must be harvested in due season.
[tr. Freeman (2016)]
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I want to tell people approaching and perhaps fearing old age that it is a time of discovery. If they say, “Of what?” I can only answer, “We must find out for ourselves, otherwise it wouldn’t be discovery.”

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
(Attributed)
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You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all that you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality. When at last age has assembled you together, will it not be easy to let it all go, lived, balanced, over?

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
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It is impossible to divide the past into distinct, clearly defined periods and prove that one age ended and another began in a particular year, such as 476, or 1453, or 1789. Men do not and cannot change their habits and ways of doing things all at once, no matter what happens.

James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) American historian and educator
An Introduction to the History of Western Europe, ch. 1 “The Historical Point of View” (1902)
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Youth is full of sunshine and life. Youth is happy, because it has the ability to see beauty. When this ability is lost, wretched old age begins, decay, unhappiness. […] Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

Franz Kafka (1883-1924) Czech-Austrian Jewish writer
In Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka (1951; 1971 ed.)
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The crucial task of age is balance, a veritable tightrope of balance; keeping just well enough, just brave enough, just gay and interested and starkly honest enough to remain a sentient human being.

Florida Scott-Maxwell (1883-1979) American-British playwright, author, psychologist
The Measure of My Days (1968)
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Always it is, that the hearts in the younger men are frivolous,
but when an elder man is among them, he looks behind him
and in front, so that all comes out far better for both sides.

[Αἰεὶ δ’ ὁπλοτέρων ἀνδρῶν φρένες ἠερέθονται·
οἷς δ’ ὁ γέρων μετέῃσιν ἅμα πρόσσω καὶ ὀπίσσω
λεύσσει, ὅπως ὄχ’ ἄριστα μετ’ ἀμφοτέροισι γένηται.]

Homer (fl. 7th-8th C. BC) Greek author
The Iliad, Book 3, ll. 108-110 [Menelaus] (c. 750 BC) [tr. Lattimore (1951)]
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Alt. trans.:
All young men’s hearts are still unstaid; but in those well-weigh'd deeds
An old man will consent to pass things past, and what succeeds
He looks into, that he may know, how best to make his way
Through both the fortunes of a fact, and will the worst obey.
[tr. Chapman (1611), ll. 113-16]

And youth itself an empty wavering state:
Cool age advances, venerably wise,
Turns on all hands its deep-discerning eyes;
Sees what befell, and what may yet befall,
Concludes from both, and best provides for all.
[tr. Pope (1715-20)]

Young men are ever of unstable mind;
But when an elder interferes, he views
Future and past together, and insures
The compact, to both parties, uninfringed.
[tr. Cowper (1791), ll. 124-27]

For the minds of younger men are ever fluctuating; but for those among whom a senior is present, he looks at the same time both backward and forward, in order that the best results may accrue to both parties.
[tr. Buckley (1860)]

For young men's spirits are too quickly stirr'd;
But in the councils check'd by rev'rend age,
Alike are weigh'd the future and the past,
And for all int'rests due provision made.
[tr. Derby (1864), ll. 130-34]

Young men's minds are light as air, but when an old man comes he looks before and after, deeming that which shall be fairest upon both sides.
[tr. Butler (1898)]

Ever unstable are the hearts of the young; but in whatsoever an old man taketh part, he looketh both before and after, that the issue may be far the best for either side.
[tr. Murray (1924), #95]

The minds of the younger men are always flighty,
but let an old man stand his ground among them,
one who can see the days behind, the days ahead --
that is the best hope for peace, for both our armies.
[tr. Fagles (1990), ll. 131-34]

Always in fact do the spirits in younger men flutter unsteady;
but with an elder among them, at once the before and the after
he can observe, so that things will become far better for both sides.
[tr. Merrill (2007), ll. 108-110]
Added on 26-Aug-20 | Last updated 24-Nov-20
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She floated away on the riptide of dementia, ultimately a speck on the horizon, waving for as long as she could to her deeply confused children onshore.

Anne Lamott (b. 1954) American novelist and non-fiction writer
Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith, “Mom, Interrupted” (2007)
    (Source)

On her mother's Alzheimer's Disease.
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So oft as I with state of present time
The image of the antique world compare,
Whereas man’s age was in his freshest prime,
And the first blossom of faire vertue bare,
Such oddes I find twixt those and these which arc,
As that, through long continuance of his course,
Me seemes the world is runne quite out of square
From the first point of his appointed source;
And being once amiss, grows daily worse and worse: […]

For that which all men then did vertue call,
Is now cald vice; and that which vice was hight,
Is now hight vertue, and so us’d of all;
Right now is wrong, and wrong that was is right.

Edmund Spenser (c. 1552-1599) English poet
The Faerie Queene, Book 5, Proem, st. 1, 4 (1589-96)
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Added on 20-Jul-20 | Last updated 20-Jul-20
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Beauty is but a lease from nature.

Edward Counsel (fl. 19th C) Australian author, composer
Maxims: Political, Philosophical, and Moral, #541 (2nd ed., 1892)
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Added on 15-Jul-20 | Last updated 15-Jul-20
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It would seem that in youth we sow our wild oats, in old age our tame anecdotes.

Clifton Fadiman (1904-1999) American critic, lecturer, editor
The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes, Introduction (1985)
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Added on 19-Jun-20 | Last updated 19-Jun-20
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The problem [with beauty] is that it’s like being born rich and getting poorer.

Joan Collins (b. 1933) English actress, author
“50 Is Beautiful,” Playboy (Dec 1983)
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Added on 10-Jun-20 | Last updated 10-Jun-20
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If you go through life trading on your good looks, there’ll come a time when no one wants to trade.

Other Authors and Sources
Lynne Alpern & Esther Blumenfeld, Oh, Lord, I Sound Just Like Mama (1986)
Added on 13-May-20 | Last updated 13-May-20
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JUST DISCOURSE: Do not bandy words with your father, nor treat him as a dotard, nor reproach the old man, who has cherished you, with his age.

Aristophanes (c.450-c.388 BC) Athenian comedic playwright
Clouds, ll. 998-999 (423 BC) [tr. Athenian Soc. (1912)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • JUST ΛΟΓΟΣ: "[Learn] not to contradict your father in any thing; nor by calling him Iapetus, to reproach him with the ills of age, by which you were reared in your infancy." [tr. Hickie (1853)]
  • RIGHT LOGIC: "Nor dare to reply when your Father is nigh, nor 'musty old Japhet' to call / In your malice and rage that Sacred Old Age which lovingly cherished your youth." [tr. Rogers (1924)]
Added on 13-May-20 | Last updated 13-May-20
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Beauty is as summer fruits, which are easy to corrupt, and cannot last.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
“Of Beauty,” Essays, No. 43 (1625)
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Added on 29-Apr-20 | Last updated 29-Apr-20
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I reject that whole point of view — that animation is a children’s medium. The way people talk about it is, well, hey, it’s a good thing I have kids, because now I get to see this. Well, hey, no, man! You can just go and see it. There’s no other art form that is defined in such a narrow way. It’s narrow-minded, and I can’t wait for it to die.

Brad Bird (b. 1957) American director, animator and screenwriter [Phillip Bradley Bird]
“How Pixar Conquered the Planet,” The Guardian (12 Nov 2004)
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Added on 26-Feb-20 | Last updated 26-Feb-20
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There is no “trick” in being young: it happens to you. But the process of maturing is an art to be learned, an effort to be sustained. By the age of fifty you have made yourself what you are, and if is good, it is better than your youth. If it is bad, it is not because you are older, but because you have not grown.

Marya Mannes (1904-1990) American author and critic [pen name "Sec"]
More in Anger: Some Opinions, Uncensored and Unteleprompted (1958)
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Added on 24-Feb-20 | Last updated 24-Feb-20
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There are books one needs maturity to enjoy, just as there are books an adult can come on too late to savor.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“The Consolations of Illiteracy,” Saturday Review (1 Aug 1953)
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Reprinted in The Province of the Heart (1959).
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At twenty the will rules; at thirty the intellect; at forty the judgment.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #298 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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Alt trans.: "When one is twenty, the will reigns; a thirty, the intelligence; at forty, judgment." [tr. Maurer (1992)]
Added on 14-Feb-20 | Last updated 14-Feb-20
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When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
1 Corinthians 13:11 [KJV]
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Alt. trans.: "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways." [NRSV]
Added on 3-Feb-20 | Last updated 3-Feb-20
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At sixteen I was stupid, confused and indecisive. At twenty-five I was wise, self-confident, prepossessing, and assertive. At forty-five I am stupid, confused, insecure, and indecisive. Who would have supposed that maturity is only a short break in adolescence?

Jules Feiffer (b. 1929) American cartoonist, authork, satirist
Cartoon, The Observer (3 Feb 1974)
Added on 14-Oct-19 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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Youth finds no value in the views it disagrees with, but maturity includes discovering that even an opinion contrary to ours may contain a vein of truth we could profitably assimilate to our own views.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Pieces of Eight (1982)
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Youth has its romance, and maturity its wisdom, as morning and spring have their freshness, noon and summer their power, night and winter their repose. Each attribute is good in its own season.

Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855) British novelist [pseud. Currer Bell]
Letter to a young admirer at Cambridge (as Currer Bell) (23 May 1850)
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Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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Every human being has paid the earth to grow up. Most people don’t grow up. It’s too damn difficult. What happens is most people get older. That’s the truth of it. They honor their credit cards, they find parking spaces, they marry, they have the nerve to have children, but they don’t grow up. Not really. They grow older. But to grow up costs the earth, the earth. It means you take responsibility for the time you take up, for the space you occupy. It’s serious business. And you find out what it costs us to love and to lose, to dare and to fail. And maybe even more, to succeed. What it costs, in truth.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“Maya Angelou, The Art of Fiction No. 119,” Interview with George Plimpton, The Paris Review (Fall 1990)
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Angelou used the core section (credit cards, parking spaces) a number of times in different interviews.
Added on 26-Oct-18 | Last updated 26-Oct-18
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Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.

Edward Thorndike (1874-1949) American psychologist, educator
(Attributed)
Added on 5-Apr-18 | Last updated 5-Apr-18
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Life is not living, but living in health.

[Vita non est vivere, sed valera vita est.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 6, #70 [tr. Ker (1919)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "It is not life to live, but to be well."
  • "Life's not just being alive, but being well."
  • "Life consists not in living, but in enjoying health." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "Not who love long, but happily, are old." [Anon. (1695)]
  • "Life is only life when we are well." [Hay]
Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 4-Apr-18
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What do you suppose makes all men look back to the time of childhood with so much regret (if their childhood has been, in any moderate degree, healthy or peaceful)? That rich charm, which the least possession had for us, was in consequence of the poorness of our treasures. That miraculous aspect of the nature around us, was because we had seen little, and knew less. Each increased possession loads us with a new weariness; every piece of new knowledge diminishes the faculty of admiration; and Death is at last appointed to take us from a scene in which, if we were to stay longer, no gift could satisfy us, and no miracle surprise.

John Ruskin (1819-1900) English art critic, painter, writer, social thinker
The Eagle’s Nest, Lecture 5 “The Power of Contentment in Science and Art,” Sec. 82 (22 Feb 1872)
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When one is too old for love, one finds great comfort in good dinners.

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) American writer, folklorist, anthropologist
Moses, Man of the Mountain, ch. 6 [Mentu] (1939)
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Men are conservatives when they are least vigorous, or when they are most luxurious. They are conservatives, after dinner, or before taking their rest; when they are sick, or aged: in the morning, or when their intellect or their conscience have been aroused, when they hear music, or when they read poetry, they are radicals.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“New England Reformers,” lecture, Church of the Disciples, Amory Hall, Boston (3 Mar 1844)
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Added on 22-Nov-17 | Last updated 22-Nov-17
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Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety; other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes hungry
Where most she satisfies.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
Antony and Cleopatra, Act 2, sc. 2, l. 271 [Enobarbus] (1607)
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Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas (1914-1953) Welsh poet and writer
“Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” (1947)
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First published in Botteghe Oscure (Nov 1951).
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At twenty a man is a Peacock, at thirty a Lion, at forty a Camel, at fifty a Serpent, at sixty a Dog, at seventy an Ape, at eighty nothing.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #276 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-20
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But though that first love’s impassioned blindness
Has passed away in colder light,
I still have thought of you with kindness,
And shall do, till our last goodnight.
The ever-rolling silent hours
Will bring a time we shall not know,
When our young days of gathering flowers
Will be an hundred years ago.

Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866) English novelist, satirist, poet, merchant
“Love and Age,” From Gryll Grange (1860)
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Added on 19-Oct-17 | Last updated 19-Oct-17
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I miss what I had in terms of the speed of memory access. If I needed a word or a fact it was already at my fingertips and now it’s like an arthritic and elderly gentleman has to sit up and go down many, many flights of stairs very slowly and go and rummage in dusty drawers. Eventually he will return four days later, normally at about 1:30 in the morning, and I will sit up and go, “Oh yes! ‘Crepuscular.’ That was the word I was looking for.”

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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Added on 11-Sep-17 | Last updated 11-Sep-17
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Leave well — even “pretty well” — alone: that is what I learn as I get old.

Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883) English writer, poet, translator
Letter to W. F. Pollock (7 Dec 1869)
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Everything passes, everything breaks, everything palls, everything gets replaced.

[Tout passe, tout casse, tout lasse, et tout se remplace.]

Other Authors and Sources
French proverb

Sometimes given without the final clause. The second and third clauses are sometimes reversed.
Added on 18-Aug-17 | Last updated 18-Aug-17
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At fifty, everyone has the face he deserves.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
Notebook, last words (17 Apr 1949)
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See Camus. See also discussion here.
Added on 7-Aug-17 | Last updated 25-Aug-20
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Each Morn a thousand Roses brings, you say;
Yes, but where leaves the Rose of Yesterday?

Omar Khayyám (1048-1123) Persian poet, mathematician, philosopher, astronomer
Rubaiyat, 9 [tr. FitzGerald, 5th Ed. (1889)]
Added on 17-Jul-17 | Last updated 31-Jul-17
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You can’t go back home to your family, back home to your childhood, back home to romantic love, back home to a young man’s dreams of glory and of fame, back home to exile, to escape to Europe and some foreign land, back home to lyricism, to singing just for singing’s sake, back home to aestheticism, to one’s youthful idea of “the artist” and the all-sufficiency of “art” and “beauty” and “love”, back home to the ivory tower, back home to places in the country, to the cottage in Bermuda, away from all the strife and conflict of the world, back home to the father you have lost and have been looking for, back home to someone who can help you, save you, ease the burden for you, back home to the old forms and systems of things which once seemed everlasting but which are changing all the time — back home to the escapes of Time and Memory.

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) American writer
You Can’t Go Home Again, Book 7 “A Wind Is Rising and the Rivers Flow” (1940)
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Added on 1-Jun-17 | Last updated 12-Jun-17
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When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among: —
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) English clergyman, historian, essayist, novelist (pseud. "Parson Lot")
“Water Babies,” Song 2, st. 2 (1863)
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Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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It used to be a good hotel, but that proves nothing — I used to be a good boy, for that matter. Both of us have lost character of late years.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Innocents Abroad, ch. 57 (1869)
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Added on 20-Apr-17 | Last updated 20-Apr-17
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Forgive us immortals our sins of pride, child. We all age like cheese, growing strong and tasty but also covered in the mould of good intentions gone grey.

Gail Carriger (b. 1976) American archaeologist, author [pen name of Tofa Borregaard]
Imprudence (2016)
Added on 30-Mar-17 | Last updated 30-Mar-17
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Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Clissold” (1927)
Added on 7-Feb-17 | Last updated 7-Feb-17
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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 the way that it cares for its helpless members.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) American writer
My Several Worlds (1954)
Added on 6-Feb-17 | Last updated 6-Feb-17
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Old minds are like old horses; you must exercise them if you wish to keep them in working order.

adams-old-minds-old-horses-exercise-wist_info-quote

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Josiah Quincy III (14 Feb 1825)
Added on 18-Jan-17 | Last updated 18-Jan-17
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King David and King Solomon
Led merry merry lives,
With many, many lady friends,
And many many wives;
But when old age crept over them —
With many, many qualms! —
King Solomon wrote the Proverbs
And King David wrote the Psalms.

James Ball Naylor (1860-1945) American physician, writer, poet, politician
“King David and King Solomon” (1935)
Added on 5-Jan-17 | Last updated 5-Jan-17
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The heart never grows better by age; I fear rather worse; always harder. A young liar will be an old one; and a young knave will only be a greater knave as he grows older.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (17 May 1750)
Added on 25-Oct-16 | Last updated 25-Oct-16
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Years ago we discovered the exact point, the dead center of middle age. It occurs when you are too young to take up golf and too old to rush up to the net.

Franklin Pierce Adams (1881-1960) American journalist and humorist
Nods and Becks (1944)
Added on 9-Oct-16 | Last updated 9-Oct-16
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