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DECAY
[ Also see Age Antiquity Chaos Death Disease Failure Life Oblivion Ruin ]

Ruins in some countries indicate prosperity, in others decay.
      - R. Anderson

Can we wonder that men perish and are forgotten when their noblest and most enduring works decay?
      - Decimus Magnus Ausonius

It is sad
  To see the light of beauty wane away,
    Know eyes are dimming, bosoms shrivelling, feet
      Losing their springs, and limbs their lily roundness;
        But it is worse to feel the heart-spring gone,
          To lose hope, care not for the coming thing,
            And feel all things go to decay within us.
      - Philip James Bailey

Before decay's effacing fingers
  Have swept the lines where beauty lingers.
      - Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron)

You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet,
  Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
    Of two such lessons, why forget
      The nobler and the manlier one?
        You have the letters Cadmus gave--
          Think ye he meant them for a slave?
      - Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron),
        Don Juan (canto III, st. 86, 10)

A gilded halo hovering round decay.
      - Lord Byron (George Gordon Noel Byron),
        Giaour (l. 100)

He that loves a rosy cheek,
  Or a coral lip admires,
    Or from star-like eyes doth seek
      Fuel to maintain his fires;--
        As old Time makes these decay,
          So his flames must waste away.
      - Thomas Carew, Disdain Returned

A worm is in the bud of youth,
  And at the root of age.
      - William Cowper,
        Stanzas Subjoined to a Bill of Mortality

I sorrow that all fair things must decay.
      - Fitz-Greene Halleck

An age that melts with unperceiv'd decay,
  And glides in modest innocence away.
      - Samuel Johnson (a/k/a Dr. Johnson) ("The Great Cham of Literature"),
        Vanity of Human Wishes (l. 293)

There seems to be a constant decay of all our ideas; even of those which are struck deepest, and in minds the most retentive, so that if they be not sometimes renewed by repeated exercises of the senses, or reflection on those kinds of objects which at first occasioned them, the print wears out, and at last there remains nothing to be seen.
      - John Locke (1), Human Understanding
         (bk. II, ch. 10)

Nature strips her garment gay,
  And wears the vesture of decay.
      - John Logan

All that's bright must fade,--
  The brightest still the fleetest;
    All that's sweet was made
      But to be lost when sweetest.
      - Thomas Moore,
        National Airs--All That's Bright Must Fade

Devouring Time and envious Age, all things yield to you; and with lingering death you destroy, step by step, with venomed tooth whatever you attack.
      - Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)

Mutability is written upon all things.
      - Antoine de Rivarol, Comte de Rivarol

In the sweetest bud
  The eating canker dwells.
      - William Shakespeare

My way of life
  Is fall'n into the sear and yellow leaf.
      - William Shakespeare

Both by myself and many other friends;
  But he, his own affections' counsellor,
    Is to himself--I will not say how true--
      But to himself so secret and so close,
        So far from sounding and discovery,
          As in the bud bit with an envious worm
            Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air
              Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.
      - William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
         (Montague at I, i)

The ripest fruit first falls, and so doth he;
  His time is spent, our pilgrimage must be.
      - William Shakespeare,
        The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
         (King Richard at II, i)

The ripest fruit first falls, and so doth he;
  His time is spent, our pilgrimage must be.
      - William Shakespeare,
        The Tragedy of King Richard the Second
         (King Richard at II, i)

Yet writers say, as in the sweetest bud
  The eating canter dwells, so eating love
    Inhabits in the finest wits of all.
      - William Shakespeare,
        The Two Gentlemen of Verona
         (Proteus at I, i)

I shall be like that tree,--I shall die at the top.
      - Jonathan Swift, Scott's Life of Swift

Fires that shook me once, but now to silent ashes fall'n away.
  Cold upon the dead volcano sleeps the gleam of dying day.
      - Lord Alfred Tennyson,
        Locksley Hall Sixty Years After (st. 21)


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