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Old age is too remote for young sailors to think about. It is a distant shore that lies beyond the horizon, invisible to the eyes of youth in love with life. The time comes, however, when strands of white hair begin to surface like little islands in the sea. They multiply and merge to form a grey, snow-capped mountain. Suddenly, one realises that youth has slipped away like the morning tide. The following quotes can be a source of courage, consolation and perhaps even enlightenment for sailors and others who are nearing the land of old age or have already reached it.

I dread no more the first white in my hair,
Or even age itself, the easy shoe,
The cane, the wrinkled hands, the special chair:
Time, doing this to me, may alter too
My anguish, into something I can bear.

~ Edna St. Vincent Millay, from Wine from These Grapes

When I get older losing my hair, 
Many years from now. 
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings bottle of wine.


If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door,
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four.
You’ll be older too,
And it you say the word,
I could stay with you.
I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone.
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride,
Doing the garden, digging the weeds,
Who could ask for more.
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four.
Every summer we can rent a cottage,
In the isle of wight, if it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera chuck & dave
Send me a postcard, drop me a line,
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me,
When I’m sixty-four.

~ The Beatles, When I’m Sixty-Four

It is a hard although a common case
To find our children running restive–they
In whom our brightest days we would retrace,
Our little selves re-form’d in finer clay,
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.

~ Lord Byron, Don Juan

New York from the Harbor Showing the Battery and Castle Garden, 1858
Alfred Copestick (American, ca. 1837–1859) / The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Old Age

It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better.

~ John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley: In Search of America 

There is only one solution if old age is not to be an absurd parody of our former life, and that is to go on pursuing ends that give our existence a meaning.

~ Simone De Beauvoir, The Coming of Age

The real affliction of old age is remorse.

Cesare Pavese, The Moon and the Bonfire

Retired from the Sea, late 19th to early 20th century
Frank Meadow Sutcliffe (British, 1853–1941) / Philadelphia Museum of Art

When grace is joined with wrinkles, it is adorable. There is an unspeakable dawn in happy old age.

~ Victor Hugo, Les Miserables

Let’s put a limit to the scramble for money. … Having got what you wanted, you ought to begin to bring that struggle to an end.

~ Horace, Satires

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.

~ William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Age imprints more wrinkles on the mind than it does on the face.

~ Montaigne, Essays

Marine, la nuit, circa 1895
Thomas Alexander Harrison (American, 1853–1930) / Musée des Beaux-Arts de Quimper via

I believe in old age; to work and to grow old: this is what life expects of us. And then one day to be old and still be quite far from understanding everything — no, but to begin, but to love, but to suspect, but to be connected to what is remote and inexpressible, all the way up into the stars.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Life

For age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Morituri Salutamus”

Though leaves are many, the root is one;
Through all the lying days of my youth
I swayed my leaves and flowers in the sun;
Now I may wither into the truth.

~ William Butler Yeats, The Coming of Age with Time

~ Barista Uno

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