The Quote Garden

 I dig old books.

 Est. 1998

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Age Quotations:
50 to 59 Years Old,
Fiftieth Birthday, etc.

Welcome to my page of quotations about the specific ages of being in one's fifties — a time of midlife crisis, mellowness, menopause, metamorphosis.  —ღ Terri

The 50s. —
Baby, the fifties are everything you've been meaning to be. ~Maya Angelou, as quoted by Oprah Winfrey

Age 50. —
But he came of a long-lived family, he had not a single grey hair, no one would have taken him for forty, and he remembered Varenka's saying that it was only in Russia that men of fifty thought themselves old, and that in France a man of fifty considers himself in the prime of life, while a man of forty is a young man. But what did the mere reckoning of years matter when he felt as young in heart as he had been twenty years ago? ~Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, 1875–1877, translated by Constance Garnett, 1917  [a little altered —tg]

Age 50. —
When I was 40, my doctor advised me that a man in his forties shouldn't play tennis. I heeded his advice carefully and could hardly wait until I reached 50 to start again. ~Hugo L. Black

Age 50. —
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 it 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. Yet all this is obscured, daily, hourly, by the selling barrage of youth; perhaps the greatest campaign for the arrested development of the human being ever waged anywhere. Look young, be young, stay young... ~Marya Mannes, "Stay Young," More in Anger, 1958

Age 50. —
At fifty years, it seems to me, the wild birds wake
A note of sadness in the songs they make,
But summer suns have never been so light,
And summer flowers so marvellously bright...
I sweep the dust of fifty years away,
In loving memory and thought to-day...
~Lizzie Berry (1847–1919), "After Fifty Years," Day Dreams: A Collection of Miscellaneous Poems, 1893  [A little altered and very out of context. —tg]

Age 50. —
A man is old on the day when he begins doddering of the past instead of planning for the future. With reluctance I sit me down to check up the changes that advertise themselves to a mere child of fifty. I discover this year that a young man is one under fifty. An old man is one over fifty. There is no other rule. We—whether thirty-two or forty-seven or fifty-three — continue to be just ourselves, neither old nor young. Those who antedated have given me their word on it that it is fifty years since I was born. An even fifty years. There is no getting away from the cruel mathematics. ~George Ade, "Looking Back From 50," in The American Magazine, February 1917

Age 50. —
The difference between a human being ten years of age and one fifty years of age lies altogether in the matter of toys. ~Austin O'Malley (1858–1932), Thoughts of a Recluse, 1898

Age 50. —
Wherefore these flowers? floral applause?
Ah, no, these blossoms came to say
That I am growing old, because
I number fifty years to-day.
O rapid, ever-fleeting day!
O moments lost, I know not how!
O wrinkled cheek and hair grown gray!
Alas, for I am fifty now!
~Jean-Pierre de Béranger, "Cinquante Ans," translated by Walter Learned

Age 50. —
Why thump and rattle at the door, as it were, on the first of January, and bawl out to the whole world that we are a year older, and that makes—! It is disagreeably unnecessary. Why should not the old fellow do his duty quietly, and tell off another year without such an outrageous uproar? Does he think it so pleasant to hear his increasing tally — forty, five, fifty, five, sixty, five? Peace! peace! Why not have it understood that the tally beyond — well, say fifty, is a gross impertinence? Let something be left to the imagination. ~George William Curtis, "Editor's Easy Chair" ("The New Year"), Harper's New Monthly Magazine, January 1887

Age 50. —
Odd how coming back here upsets my writing mood. Odder still how possessed I am with the feeling that now, aged 50, I'm just poised to shoot forth quite free straight and undeflected my bolts whatever they are. Therefore all this flitter flutter of weekly newspapers interests me not at all. These are the soul's changes. I don't believe in ageing. I believe in forever altering one's aspect to the sun. Hence my optimism. And to alter now, cleanly and sanely, I want to shuffle off this loose living randomness: people; reviews; fame; all the glittering scales; and be withdrawn, and concentrated. So I shan't run about, just yet, buying clothes, seeing people... I'm interested in watching what goes on for the moment without wishing to take part... ~Virginia Woolf, diary, 1932

Age 50. —
At 50 a man can be an ass without being an optimist but not an optimist without being an ass. ~Mark Twain

Age 50. —
Old customs, habits, superstitions, fears,
All that lies buried under fifty years.
~John Greenleaf Whittier

Age 50. —
      The years passed. They went with an incredible rapidity, and Harriet was now fifty.
      The feeling of insecurity had grown on her... She had no clear illumination, only a mournful acquiescence in her own futility, an almost physical sense of shrinkage, the crumbling away, bit by bit, of her beautiful and honourable self...
      She read more and more novels... She was appeased more and more by the rhythm of the seasons, of the weeks, of day and night, by the first coming up of the pink and wine-brown velvet primulas, by the pungent, burnt smell of her morning coffee, the smell of a midday stew, of hot cakes baking for tea-time; by the lighting of the lamp, the lighting of autumn fires... ~May Sinclair, Life and Death of Harriett Frean, 1922

Age 50. —
When I was thirty I knew that I should become a great novelist. Facing fifty, I know I never shall. Does that discourage me? By no means. I have merely exchanged hope for knowledge. ~Emily Newell Blair (1877–1951), "I Prepare to Face Fifty," 1926  [a little altered —tg]

Age 50. Women. —
At fifty, the madwoman in the attic breaks loose, stomps down the stairs, and sets fire to the house. She won't be imprisoned anymore... The anger of midlife is a ferocious anger. In our twenties, with success and motherhood still before us, we could imagine that something would save us from second-classness — either achievement or marriage or motherhood. Now we know that nothing can save us. We have to save ourselves. ~Erica Jong, Fear of Fifty, 1994

Age 50. Women. —
Most women can make fifty a dividing line between continued drifting and selection of what they want, between striving and realization. ~Emily Newell Blair (1877–1951), "I Prepare to Face Fifty," 1926  [a little altered —tg]

Ages 50+. —
At thirty man suspects himself a Fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his Plan;
At fifty chides his infamous Delay,
Pushes his prudent Purpose to Resolve;
In all the magnanimity of Thought
Resolves; and re-resolves: then dies the same.
~Edward Young, The Complaint: or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality, Night the First, 1742

Ages 50+. —
The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do things, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down. ~T. S. Eliot, 1950

Age 51. —
He was fifty-one fucking years old, and fifty-one was too old for dreams of the future. At fifty-one you had to keep running just to escape the avalanche of your own past. ~Stephen King, Needful Things, 1992

Age 52. —
"Anyway, it's her kind — those women who would be sirens if the mythological age hadn't passed — who cause so much trouble in the world," Mrs. Sefton wound up. At fifty-two women can look upon sirens dispassionately. ~Kate Trimble Sharber (b.1883), Amazing Grace, 1914

Age 53. —
Yes, I shall be fifty-three... I must confess I find it difficult to become accustomed to the thought that the yellow leaf is upon me. ~Christopher Isherwood (1904–1986), The Last of Mr. Norris, 1935

Age 55. —
...the very prime of life; that is, about fifty-five years of age, — the flowering time of existence, when real enjoyment of life begins. ~Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot, 1868, translated from the Russian by Frederick Whishaw, 1887

Ages 55+. —
To me it seems that youth is like spring, an overpraised season — delightful if it happen to be a favoured one, but in practice very rarely favoured and more remarkable, as a general rule, for biting east winds than genial breezes. Autumn is the mellower season, and what we lose in flowers we more than gain in fruits. Fontenelle at the age of ninety, being asked what was the happiest time of his life, said he did not know that he had ever been much happier than he then was, but that perhaps his best years had been those when he was between fifty-five and seventy-five... ~Samuel Butler (1835–1902), Ernest Pontifex, or, The Way of All Flesh, written c.1872–1884, published 1903

Late 50s. —
...on the shady side of fifty... ~The Critical Review, 1777

Age 58. —
      A neighbor told me she had been in a small car accident and had managed to persuade the local paper to ignore her true age (as it appears on her license) and to print her age as thirty-nine! I was really astonished by this confidence. I am proud of being fifty-eight, and still alive and kicking, in love, more creative, balanced, and potent than I have ever been. I mind certain physical deteriorations, but not really...
      Wrinkles here and there seem unimportant compared to the Gestalt of the whole person I have become... Somewhere in The Poet and the Donkey Andy speaks for me when he says, "Do not deprive me of my age. I have earned it." ~May Sarton, 1971

Age 59. —
With sixty staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and a definite hardening of the paragraphs. ~James Thurber, 1954

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published 1999 Feb 16
revised Feb 2016, Feb 2017
last saved 2024 May 11