see: "AGE"


Alonso of Aragon was wont to say in commendation
of age, that age appears to be best in four things —
old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends
to trust, and old authors to read.
--Francis Bacon (1561—1626)
English philosopher and essayist.
_Apothegms_, # 97 [1624]

& see:

Old friends are best. King James us'd to call for
his Old Shoes, they were easiest for his Feet.
--John Selden (1584—1654)
English historian.
_Table Talk_ [1689]

& see:

I love everything that's old; old friends, old
times, old manners, old books, old wine.
--Oliver Goldsmith (1728—1774)
Anglo-Irish writer, poet, and dramatist.
_She Stoops to Conquer_, I, i [1773]



Ethel Barrymore was in her Hollywood dressing room one day
when a studio usher knocked on the door and called: 'A couple
of gals in the reception room, Miss Barrymore, who say they
went to school with you. What shall I do?'

'Wheel them in,' came the reply.

_The Folio Book of Humorous Anecdotes_
Introduced by Edward Leeson [2005], "Age — Mostly Old"


I have to apologize to you that I am still among
the living. There will be a remedy for this
--Albert Einstein (1879—1955)
German-American physicist who developed the
special and general theories of relativity.
(Letter of 25 August 1946 to Tyffany Williams,
a child in South Africa who expressed surprise
on learning that Einstein was still alive.)

Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at
twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning
stays young. The greatest thing in life is to
keep your mind young.
--attributed to Henry Ford (1863—1947)
American car manufacturer.

All would live long, but none would be old.
--Benjamin Franklin (1706—1790)
American politician, inventor, and scientist.
_Poor Richard's Almanack_ [September 1749]

A person is always startled when he hears himself
seriously called an old man for the first time.
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809—1894)
American physician, poet, and essayist.
_The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table_, ch. VII [1858]

There are two kinds of fools: one says, "This is
old, therefore it is good;" the other says, "This
is new, therefore it is better."
--William Ralph Inge (1860—1954)
English writer and Dean of St. Paul's [1911-34].
_More Lay Thoughts of a Dean_ [1931]

We get too soon old and too late smart.
--Pennsylvania Dutch proverb


Oh bear with me, for I am old
And count on fingers five
The years this pencil I may hold
And hope to be alive;
How sadly soon our dreaming ends!
How brief the sunset glow!
Be kindly to the old, my friends:
You'll miss them when they go.

I've seen so many disappear
That I can scarce forget,
For death has made them doubly dear
And ripened my regret.
How wistfully I've wished them back,
With cherishing to show
The gentleness I used to lack
In years of long ago.

You, young and fit, will falter too,
And when Time's load you bear,
'Twill help if others turn to you
With comforting and care;
With loving look and tender touch ...
Aye, in their twilight wan
Revere the old — for Oh how much
You'll miss them when they've gone!

--Robert William Service (1874—1958)
English poet.
"The Old"


Old things are always in good repute, present things in disfavour.
[Latin: Vetera semper in laude, presentia in fastidio.]
--Tacitus [or Publius Cornelius Tacitus or Gaius Cornelius Tacitus]
(c. 55—c. 117), Roman orator, lawyer, senator, and historian.
"Dialogue de Oratoribus", 18 [c. 102]


antediluvian (adj.) [ζn-ti-dκ-'lu-vee-κn]
Of or relating to the period before the Biblical flood
and, by extension, anything that was manufactured,
evolved or developed an extremely long time ago.

antiquarian [an-tuh-KWAIR-ee-uhn], noun:
1. One who collects, studies, or deals in objects or relics from the past.
2. Of or pertaining to antiquarians or objects or relics from the past.
3. Dealing in or concerned with old or rare books.

hoary [HOR-ee], adjective:
1. White or gray with age; as, "hoary hairs."
2. Ancient; extremely old; remote in time past.

senescent (adj.) [sκ-'nes-κnt]
The state of being old, the process of becoming old.



see: "AGE"

Don't worry about avoiding temptation as
you grow older. It will avoid you first.
--Joey Adams (1911—1999)
American comedian.
_Strictly For Laughs_ [1981]

To keep the heart unwrinkled, to be hopeful,
kindly, cheerful, reverent — that is to triumph
over old age.
--Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1836—1907)
American poet, short-story writer, and editor.
_The Writings of Thomas Bailey Aldrich_, p. 36 [1907]

Our life much resembles wine: when there is only a little
remaining, it becomes vinegar; for all the ills of human
nature crowd to old age as if it were a workshop.
--Antiphanes (fl. early 4th cent. B.C.)
Greek comic poet.
Quoted in Craufurd Tait Ramage _Great Thoughts
from Latin Authors_, p. 263 [3rd ed. 1884].

The old are in a second childhood.
--Aristophanes (c. 450—c. 388 B.C.)
Greek comic dramatist.
"Clouds" [419 B.C.]

The vine produces more grapes when it is young, but
better grapes for wine when it is old, because its juices
are more perfectly concocted.
--Francis Bacon (1561—1626)
English philosopher and essayist.
Quoted in Maturin M. Ballou _Edge-Tools of Speech_, p. 9 [1886].

By common consent gray hairs are a crown of glory;
the only object of respect that can never excite envy.
--George Bancroft (1800—1891)
American historian and public official.
_The Last Moments of Eminent Men_, essay
in "North American Review" [January 1834].

"Aren't you Tallulah Bankhead?"
"I'm what's left of her, darling."
--anecdote, Richard Gottlieb, "Dah-ling: The Strange Case of
Tallulah Bankhead", in _The New Yorker_ [16 May 2005].

A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.
--John Barrymore (John Sidney Blythe) (1882—1942)
Shakespearean actor.
Quoted in Gene Fowler _Good Night, Sweet Prince_ [1943].

[On his 85th birthday:]
To me old age is always fifteen years older than I am.
--Bernard Baruch (1870—1965)
American financier.
Quoted in "Observer" (London) [21 August 1955].

In youth we run into difficulties,
in old age difficulties run into us.
--Josh Billings [Henry Wheeler Shaw] (1818—1885)
American humorist.
Quoted in _Wit and Wisdom of Josh Billings_, Collected by H. Montague [1913].


"I'm glad you're not on my list."

"What list is that?"

"Just an expression."

"It's a new one on me. what kind of list?"

He shrugged, "It's just something I did awhile back. I sat down and
started writing down a list of everybody I could think of who was

"Jesus Christ."

"Well, he might or might not belong on the list, depending on who you
talk to. Same goes for Elvis. But this particular list was limited to people
I'd known personally."

"And you wrote down their names."

"It sounds stupid," he said, "and I think it probably was, but once I got
started I couldn't seem to stop. I got pretty compulsive about it. I'd think
of a name and I'd have to write it down. It was sort of like the Vietnam
Memorial in Washington, except those guys got a wall, not some pages
in a notebook. And they had something in common. They all died in the
same war."

"And the others were all friends of yours."

"Not even that. Some of them I couldn't stand and others were people I
just knew to say hello to. But it was a trip, Matthew. One name would
lead to another, and it was like dominoes tumbling over in your memory.
I found myself remembering people I hadn't thought of in years. Neighbors
from when I was growing up. My pediatrician. A kid across the street who
died of leukemia, and a girl in my fifth-grade class who got hit by a car.
You know what I realized?"


"Most of the people I know are dead. I guess that happens when you've
been around long enough."

--Lawrence Block (b. 1938)
American crime writer.
_Everybody Dies_ [1998], ch. 17

He died sometime that summer, not too long after the
bar closed, but I didn't hear about it until the fall. So
that's one funeral I missed, but these days there's
always another funeral to go to. They're like buses.
If you miss one, there'll be another coming your way
in a few minutes.
--Lawrence Block (b. 1938)
American crime writer.
_All the Flowers Are Dying _ [2005]


Old age is [...] a lot of crossed
off names in an address book.
--Ronald Blythe (b. 1922)
English writer.
"The View in Winter" [1979]

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
--Pearl S. Buck (1892—1973)
American author noted for her novels of life in China;
winner of the 1938 Nobel Prize for Literature.
_My Several Worlds_ [1954]

It is noticeable how intuitively in age we go back with strange
fondness to all that is fresh in the earliest dawn of youth. If we
never cared for little children before, we delight to see them roll
in the grass over which we hobble on crutches. The grandsire
turns wearily from his middle-aged, careworn son, to listen with
infant laugh to the prattle of an infant grandchild. It is the old
who plant young trees; it is the old who are most saddened by
the autumn; and feel most delight in the returning spring.
--Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803—1873)
British novelist and politician.
_Caxtoniana: A Series of Essays on Life, Literature, and Manners_ [1863]

We all know the troubles of old age. The bones creak; the eyes get
dim, one forgets names. The spark does not ignite; adrenalin has
lost its potency. But there is something to be said on the other
side. ... The beauty of nature has lost none of its charm; the beauty
of women none of its benediction. There is a possibility of growing
old gracefully, and with content in one's heart.
--Vannevar Bush (1890—1974)
American electrical engineer and administrator
who oversaw government mobilization of
scientific research during World War II.
Quoted in "The Century Association Year-Book" [1975].

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.
--Lord Byron [George Gordon Byron] (1788—1824)
English Romantic poet and satirist.
_Childe Harold's Pilgrimage_, canto II, st. 98 [1812]

The man who works and is not bored is never old.
--Pablo Casals (1876—1973)
Spanish-born cellist and conductor.
In J. Lloyd Webber (ed.) _Song of the Birds_ [1985].

Old age is when your former classmates are
so grey, wrinkled, and bald that they don't
recognize you.
--attributed to Bennett Cerf (1898—1971)
American author, humorist, and publisher.

Considering the alternative, it's not too bad at all.
--Maurice Chevalier (1888—1972)
French singer and actor.
In Michael Freedland _Maurice Chevalier_ [1981].

[When asked at age 84 to what she credited her longevity:]
Red meat and gin.
--Julia Child (1912—2004)
American chef, television personality, and author.
Quoted in "Reader's Digest" [January 1997].


For my own part, I had rather be old only a
short time than be old before I really am so.
--Marcus Tullius Cicero (106—43 B.C.)
Roman orator and statesman.
_De senectute_ (On Old Age) [44 B.C.]

As I approve of a youth that has something of the old man
in him, so I am no less pleased with an old man that has
something of the youth. He that follows this rule may be
old in body, but can never be so in mind.
--Marcus Tullius Cicero (106—43 B.C.)
Roman orator and statesman.
_De senectute_ (On Old Age) [44 B.C.]

Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more
absurd than to increase our provisions for the road
the nearer we approach to our journey's end.
--attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero (106—43 B.C.)
Roman orator and statesman.


[Mr. Bernstein (Everett Sloan) speaking:]
Old age. It's the only disease ... that you
don't look forward to being cured of.
--"Citizen Kane" [1941]
Screenplay by Herman Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.

[On seeing a pretty girl on his eightieth birthday:]
Oh, to be seventy again!
--Georges Clemenceau (1841—1929)
French statesman.
In James Agate diary [19 April 1938] - also
attributed to Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr..

The excesses of our youth, are drafts upon our old age,
payable with interest, about thirty years after date.
--C.C. Colton (1780—1832)
English clergyman and writer.
_Lacon: or, Many Things in Few Words_, LXXVI [1820]


Walter [Cronkite]'s mother, Helen, died in 1993 at the age of
101. Well into her '90s, Mrs. Cronkite was said to have dated
like a schoolgirl and danced her way to happiness. Once,
Walter called to ask how she was, and she replied, "Oh, I had
the best time dancing last night. But I had to keep slapping
my date."

Dumb struck, Walter asked, "Was he getting fresh?"

"Oh, no," Helen Cronkite said, "he's old. He kept passing out;
I had to keep reviving him."

--"Midwest Today" [Spring 1997]


I am at the age where my back
goes out a lot more than I do.
--attributed to Phyllis Diller (1917—2112)
American comedian.

Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle; Old Age a regret.
--Benjamin Disraeli (1804—1881)
British Tory statesman, novelist, and Prime Minister [1868, 1874-80].
_Coningsby: Or, The New Generation_ [1844], Bk. III, ch. 1

No Spring nor Summer Beauty hath such grace
As I have seen in one Autumnal face.
--John Donne (1572—1631)
English poet and dean of St. Paul's [1621-31].
_Elegy IX - The Autumnal_

I sometimes sense the world is changing almost too
fast for its inhabitants, at least for us older ones.
--Elizabeth II (b. 1926)
Queen of the United Kingdom [1952-].
Quoted in "The Times" (London) [9 October 1997].

Within I do not find wrinkles and
used heart, but unspent youth.
--Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803—1882)
American philosopher and poet.
Entry in "Journal" [1864].

There's a fascination frantic
In a ruin that's romantic;
Do you think you've sufficiently decayed?
--W. S. Gilbert (1836—1911)
English writer of comic and satirical verse.
_The Mikado_ [1885]


Age does not make us childish, as men tell,
It merely finds us children still at heart.
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749—1832)
German poet, novelist, and playwright.
_Faust_, pt. 1 [1808]

It is only necessary to grow old to become more indulgent.
I see no fault committed that I have not committed myself.
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749—1832)
German poet, novelist, and playwright.
Quoted in Sarah Austin (trans.) _Fragments from German Prose Writers_ [1841].


Age, that lessens the enjoyment of life,
increases our desire of living.
--Oliver Goldsmith (1728—1774)
Anglo-Irish writer, poet, and dramatist.
_The Citizen of the World_, Letter LXXIII [1762]

There comes a time in your life when people get very sweet
to you. I don't mind people being sweet to me. In fact, I'm
getting rather sweet back at them. But I'm a madly irritating
person, and I irritated them for years ... I think they're
beginning to think I'm not going to be around much longer.
--Katharine Hepburn (1907—2003)
American stage and motion-picture actress; winner of four Academy Awards.
"Ageless Queen Full of Beans" in _LIFE_ (mag.) [5 January 1968].

It is better to be seventy years
young than forty years old!
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809—1894)
American physician, poet, and essayist.
Reply to invitation from Julia Ward Howe to her
seventieth birthday party [27 May 1889].

If you don't learn to laugh at trouble, you won't
have anything to laugh at when you are old.
--Edgar Watson Howe (1854—1937)
American journalist and author.
Attributed in "Forbes" [1980].

To rise at six, to dine at ten,
To sup at six, to sleep at ten,
Makes a man live for ten times ten.
--Inscription on Victor Hugo's study

No man is ever old enough to know better.
--attributed to Holbrook Jackson (1874—1948)
British journalist, writer, and publisher.

Rather fun going out now, body ready, ears
in, teeth in, eyes on and away we go.
alt.books.louis-lamour Usenet newsgroup.

I see no comfort in outliving one's friends, and
remaining a mere monument of the times which
are past.
--Thomas Jefferson (1743—1826)
American statesman and president [1801-1809].
Letter to Charles Pinckney [3 September 1816].

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've got no money for butter.
--Jenny Joseph (b. 1932)
British poet.
"Warning" [c. 1961]

Old age was naturally more honored in times
when people could not know much more than
what they had seen.
--Joseph Joubert (1754—1824)
French philosopher.
_Some of the 'Thoughts' of Joseph Joubert_ (trans. George H. Calvert) [1867].


Old men are fond of giving good advice, to console
themselves for being no longer in a position to give
bad examples.
--Franηois de La Rochefoucauld (1613—1680)
French classical author.
_Reflections; or, Sentences and Moral Maxims_ [1678]

Time's chariot-wheels make their carriage-road in the fairest face.
--Franηois de La Rochefoucauld (1613—1680)
French classical author.
Attributed in Maturin M. Ballou _Notable Thoughts About Women_, p. 31 [1882].


How some they have died, and some they have left me,
And some are taken from me; all are departed;
All, all are gone, the old familiar faces.
--Charles Lamb (1775—1834)
English essayist.
_Old Familiar Faces_ [1798]

The damps of autumn sink into the leaves and prepare them
for the necessity of their fall; and thus insensibly are we, as
years close around us, detached from our tenacity of life by
the gentle pressure of recorded sorrow.
--Walter Savage Landor (1775—1864)
English poet.
Boccaccio speaking in _The Pentameron and Pentalogia_ [1837].

The sins of youth are paid for in old age.
--Latin proverb

Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I'm sixty-four?
--John Lennon (1940—1980) English pop singer and songwriter
& Paul McCartney (b. 1942) English pop singer and songwriter.
"When I'm Sixty Four" [1967 song]

Autumn is really the best of the seasons; and I'm
not sure that old age isn't the best part of life.
But of course, like autumn, it doesn't last.
--C.S. [Clive Staples] Lewis (1898—1963)
British scholar and novelist.
_Letters of C.S. Lewis_ [1966], "27 October 1963"


And the bright faces of my young companions
Are wrinkled like my own, or are no more.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807—1882)
American poet.
_The Spanish Student_, III, iii [1843]

It is autumn; not without
But within me is the cold.
Youth and spring are all about;
It is I that have grown old.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807—1882)
American poet.
"Autumn Within", st. 1 [1874]

Whatever poet, orator, or sage
May say of it, old age is still old age.
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807—1882)
American poet.
_Morituri Salutamus_, l. 264 [1875]

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 (1807—1882)
American poet.
Closing lines, _Morituri Salutamus_ [1875]


Spring is here and so am I,
But at my age I wonder why
If nature can be born anew
Why can't I be recycled too?
--attributed to Les Lutz


From the earliest times, the old have rubbed it into
the young that they are wiser than they, and before
the young have discoverd what nonsense this was
they were old too, and it profited them to carry on
the imposture.
--W. Somerset Maugham (1874—1965)
English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer.
"Cakes and Ale" [1930]

The complete life, the perfect pattern, includes old age as
well as youth and maturity. The beauty of the morning and
the radiance of noon are good, but it would be a very silly
person who drew the curtains and turned on the light in
order to shut out the tranquillity of the evening. Old age
has its pleasures, which, though different, are not less
than the pleasures of youth.
--W. Somerset Maugham (1874—1965)
English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer.
_The Summing Up_, ch. 73 [1938]

When I was young I was amazed at Plutarch's
statement that the elder Cato began at the age
of eighty to learn Greek. I am amazed no longer.
Old age is ready to undertake tasks that youth
shirked because they would take too long.
--W. Somerset Maugham (1874—1965)
English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer.
_The Maugham Reader_ [1950]


[On being 79:]
I woke up this morning and I was
still alive, so I am pretty cheerful.
--Spike [Terence Alan] Milligan (1918—2002)
Irish novelist, poet, musician, and comedian.
In "Irish Times" [8 November 1997].

Every period of life has its peculiar prejudices; whoever
saw old age, that did not applaud the past, and condemn
the present times?
--Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533—1592)
French moralist and essayist.
Attributed in John Taylor _The Pocket Lacon ..._ [2 vols., 1839].

The unending problem of growing old was
not how he changed, but how things did.
--Toni Morrison (Chloe Anthony Woffard) (b. 1931)
African-American author.
_Tar Baby_ [1981]

Like childhood, old age is irresponsible, reckless, and foolhardy.
Children and old people have everything to gain and nothing
much to lose. It's middle-age which is cursed by the desperate
need to cling to some finger-hold halfway up the mountain, to
conform, not to cause trouble, to behave well.
--John Mortimer (1923—2009)
English barrister and author.
_Murderers & Other Friends_ [1994]


How confusing the beams from memory's lamp are;
One day a bachelor, the next a grampa.
What is the secret of the trick?
How did I get old so quick?
--Ogden Nash (1902—1971)
American writer of humorous poetry.
_You Can't Get There from Here_ [1957], "Preface to the Past"

Senescence begins
And middle age ends
The day your descendants
Outnumber your friends.
--Ogden Nash (1902—1971)
American writer of humorous poetry.
"Crossing The Border"


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 and writer.
"King David and King Solomon" [1935]

The old — like children — talk to themselves, for they
have reached that hopeless wisdom of experience which
knows that though one were to cry it in the streets to
multitudes, or whisper it in the kiss to one's beloved,
the only ears that can ever hear one's secret are one's
--Eugene O'Neill (1888—1953)
American and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936.
_Lazarus Laughed_ [1927]

[Response when asked his age:]
How old would you be if you
didn't know how old you was?
--Leroy "Satchel" Paige (1906—1982)
American baseball pitcher in both the Negro Leagues and
the Major League; inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1971.
Quoted in Garson Kanin _It Takes a Long Time to Become Young_ [1978].

What makes old age so sad is, not that
our joys, but that our hopes cease.
--Jean Paul Richter (1763—1825)
German novelist.
_Titan_ [4 vols., 1800-03]

The young man who has not wept is a savage,
and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.
--George Santayana (1863—1952)
Spanish-born philosopher and critic.
_Dialogues in Limbo_, ch. 3 [1925]


Sir Malcolm Sargent (1895—1967)
British conductor and organist.

At the age of seventy, Sargent was asked by
an interviewer: "To what do you attribute
your advanced age?"

"Well," replied the conductor, "I suppose I
must attribute it to the fact I haven't died

--_Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes_
edited by Clifton Fadiman and Andrι Bernard [2000]


A man must have grown old and lived
long in order to see how short life is.
--Arthur Schopenhauer (1788—1860)
German philosopher.
_Parerga and Paralipomena_ [1861]

Just remember, once you're over the
hill you begin to pick up speed.
--attributed to Charles Schulz (1922—2000)
American cartoonist.

In a dream, you are never eighty.
--Anne Sexton (1928—1974)
American poet who won the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
"Old", l. 18 [1962]


Do you set down your name in the scroll of youth,
that are written down old with all the characters of
age? Have you not a moist eye? a dry hand? a
yellow cheek? a white beard? a decreasing leg? an
increasing belly? is not your voice broken? your
wind short? your chin double? your wit single? and
every part about you blasted with antiquity? and
will you yet call yourself young? Fie, fie, fie,
Sir John!
--William Shakespeare (1564—1616)
English dramatist.
_Henry IV_, pt. II, i, iii [1597]

Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he'll remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day.
--William Shakespeare (1564—1616)
English dramatist.
_King Henry V_, IV, iii [1598-99]

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
--William Shakespeare (1564—1616)
English dramatist.
_As You Like It_, II, vii [1599]

Crabbed age and youth cannot live together:
Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care;
Youth like summer morn, age like winter weather;
Youth like summer brave, age like winter bare.
Youth is full of sport, age's breath is short;
Youth is nimble, age is lame;
Youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold;
Youth is wild, and age is tame.
Age, I do abhor thee; youth, I do adore thee;
--William Shakespeare (1564—1616)
English dramatist.
_The Passionate Pilgrim_ [1599]

They say an old man is twice a child.
--William Shakespeare (1564—1616)
English dramatist.
_Hamlet_, II, ii [1600-01]


Said the little boy, "Sometimes I drop my spoon."
Said the old man, "I do that too."
The little boy whispered, "I wet my pants."
"I do that too," laughed the old man.
Said the little boy, "I often cry."
The old man nodded, "So do I."
"But worst of all," said the boy, "it seems
Grown-ups don't pay attention to me."
And he felt the warmth of a wrinkled old hand.
"I know what you mean," said the old man.
--Shel Silverstein (1930—1999)
American poet and songwriter.
"The Little Boy and the Old Man" in _A Light in the Attic_ [1981].


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 (1865—1946)
American-born man of letters.
_Afterthoughts_ [1931], "Age and Death"

Am I the person who used to wake in the middle of the
night and laugh with the joy of living? Who worried
about the existence of God, and danced with young
ladies till long after daybreak? Who sang "Auld Lang
Syne" and howled with sentiment, and more than once
gazed at the full moon through a blur of great, romantic
--Logan Pearsall Smith (1865—1946)
American-born man of letters.
_More Trivia_ [1934], "Last Words"


That sign of old age, extolling the
past at the expense of the present.
--Sydney Smith (1771—1845)
English clergyman and essayist,
in 1802 cofounded "The Edinburgh Review."
_Lady Holland's Memoir_, vol. I, ch. 11 [1855]

I guess — what may happen is what keeps
us alive. We want to see tomorrow.
--John Ernst Steinbeck (1902—1968)
American novelist.
Letter to Carlton Sheffield [16 October 1952].

In youth, everything seems possible; but we reach a point in the
middle years when we realize that we are never going to reach
all the shining goals we had set for ourselves. And in the end,
most of us reconcile ourselves, with what grace we can, to
living with our ulcers and arthritis, our sense of partial failure,
our less-than-ideal families — and even our politicians!
--Adlai E. Stevenson (1900—1965)
American Democratic politician.
_Call to Greatness_ [1954]

When an old gentlemen 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.
--Robert Louis Stevenson (1850—1894)
Scottish essayist, poet, and novelist.
_Virginibus Puerisque_ [1881], "Crabbed Age and Youth"

When you are younger you get blamed for crimes
you never committed and when you're older you
begin to get credit for virtues you never possessed.
It evens itself out.
--I.F. Stone [Isidor Feinstein] (1907—1989)
American investigative journalist.
"International Herald Tribune" [16 March 1988]; quoted in Robert
Andrews _The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations_, p. 25 [1993].


This day let us not be told
That you are sick, and I grown old;
Nor think on our approaching ills,
And talk of spectacles and pills.
--Jonathan Swift (1667—1745)
Anglo-Irish poet and satirist.
"Stella's Birth-day March 13, 1726-7"

Every man desires to live long;
but no man would be old.
--Jonathan Swift (1667—1745)
Anglo-Irish poet and satirist.
_Thoughts on Various Subjects_ [1727 ed.]


What a dignity it gives an old lady, that balance at the
bankers! [...] How tenderly we look at her faults if she
is a relative; what a kind, good-natured old creature
we find her!
--William Makepeace Thackeray (1811—1863)
English novelist.
_Vanity Fair_ [1847-48]

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.
_Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night_ [1952]

None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.
--Henry David Thoreau (1817—1862)
American essayist, poet, and practical philosopher.
Attributed in Kate Sanborn _A Year of Sunshine; Cheerful
Extracts for Every Day in the Year_ [1886 ed.].

Hope I die before I get old.
--Pete Townshend (b. 1945)
British rock musician and songwriter.
"My Generation" [1965 song]

Old age is the most unexpected of
all things that happen to a man.
--Leon Trotsky (1879—1940)
Russian revolutionary.
_Diary in Exile_ [1935, first pub 1958]

There is still vitality under the winter snow, even
though to the casual eye it seems to be dead.
--Agnes Sligh Turnbull (1888—1982)
American novelist.
_The Rolling Years_ [1936]

Age steals away all things, even the mind.
--Virgil (70—19 B.C.)
Roman poet.
_Eclogues_ [43-37 B.C.], IX, 51

I advise you to go on living solely to enrage
those who are paying your annuities. It is
the only pleasure I have left.
--Voltaire (Franηois Marie Arouet) (1694—1778)
French writer and philosopher.
_Letter to Madame du Deffand_ [23 April 1754], as quoted in
Robert Andrews _The Columbia Dictionary of Quotations_ [1993].

If I'd have known I was going to live this long,
I would have taken better care of myself.
--"Washington Post" [24 November 1966]

You end up as you deserve. In old age you must
put up with the face, the friends, the health, and
the children you have earned.
--Fay Weldon (b. 1931)
British novelist.
In Randy Voorhees _Old Age Is Always 15 Years Older Than I Am_, p. 87 [2001].

A little more tired at close of day,
A little less anxious to have our way;
A little less ready to scold and blame;
A little more care of a brother's name;
And so we are nearing our journey's end,
Where time and eternity meet and blend.
--Rollin J. Wells (1848—1923)
American lawyer and poet.
"Growing Old"

So here I sit in the early candle-light of old
age — I and my book — casting backward
glances over our travel'd road.
--Walt Whitman (1819—1892)
American poet.
"November Boughs" [1888]

My, wasn't life awful — and wonderful.
--Thornton Wilder (1897—1975)
American novelist and dramatist.
_Our Town_ [1938]

There's one advantage to being 102. No peer pressure.
--attributed to Dennis Wolfberg (1946—1994)
American stand up comedian and actor.

When you are old and gray and full of sleep
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep.
--William Butler Yeats (1865—1939)
Irish poet and dramatist who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
"When You Are Old", st. 1 [1893]


Don't let anyone tell you you're getting old.
Squash their toes with your rocker.

I don't know how I got over the hill
without getting to the top.

Some people try to turn back their odometers.
Not me.
I want people to know why I look like this.
I have traveled a long way.
And some of the roads were not paved.

I've sure gotten old. I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement,
new knees. Fought prostate cancer and diabetes. I'm half blind, can't
hear anything quieter than a jet engine, take forty different medications
that make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts. Have bouts with
dementia. Have poor circulation; hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.
Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92. Have lost all my friends. But, thank
God, I still have my driver's license.


Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to
the very elderly widow and asked, "How old was your husband?"
"Ninety-eight," she replied. "Two years older than me."
"So you're ninety-six," the undertaker commented.
She responded, "Hardly worth going home, is it?"


nonagenarian [non-uh-juh-NAIR-ee-uhn] noun:
A ninety year old person; someone
whose age is in the nineties.

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