The Seven Ages

English Poems Index

The Seven Ages :

All the world's a stage

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail

Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad

Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier.

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the 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 lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modem instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,

His youthful hose, well saved, 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,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

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

By William Shakespeare

About The Poet :

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, on April 23, 1564 and died in 1616. He is considered by many to be the greatest dramatist of all time. He wrote a book of 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems and about three dozen plays. Shakespeare used poetic and dramatic means to create unified aesthetic effects. In verse he perfected the dramatic blank verse.

Words to Know :

Mewling : crying

Puking : being sick, vomiting

Satchel : a small bag, for carrying school books

Woeful : very sad

Oaths : solemn promises

Pard : leopard (a symbol of fierceness in Shakespeare's time)

Cannon : a big gun that fired cannon-balls made of iron

Justice : judge

Capon : a male chicken, very big and fat

Saws : sayings

Slippered : wearing slippers (indoor shoes)

Pantaloon : a funny old man, on whom other people play tricks

Pouch : a soft fold of loose skin that hangs down, as a result of illness or old age

Hose : tight-fitting leg coverings

Shank : legs from the knee to the ankle

Treble : a high voice

Oblivion : forgetting everything, and being forgotten by everybody

Sans : (pronounced like sone) a French word meaning without

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