The Seven Ages of Man

…from the quills of the dead white poet

William Shakespeare (1564 – 1616)

All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His act being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel,

And shining morning face, creeping like a snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover

Sighting like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress’ eyebrows. Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like a pard,

Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lin’d,

With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose well sav’d, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

In second childishness and mere oblivion

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

[From As You Like It]

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