Thursday, March 20, 2014


We are born.
We crawl.
We walk and talk.
We go to school and work ... and marry, perhaps.
We raise children who repeat this cycle
whose children again repeat this cycle
as we grow older...
as we grow old.

Or we live some variation of this.
Perhaps you don't marry, and instead, pamper nieces and nephews or neighbors' kids ...
or a dog or cat.
Or perhaps your work is your child...
or your spouse.

The permutations are endless.

We all go through stages of life.


All the world's a stage.
As we place our selves in our seats in freshman English, we remember this line from Shakespeare's As You Like It.  Shakespeare identifies seven ages of man. In Act II Scene 7,  Jaques speaks these words:

  • 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 school-boy, 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 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,
    Is second childishness and mere oblivion;
    Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans every thing.
For the entire play click here.

All the world's a stage.
And we enter its acts and scenes in stages-- in distinct developmental segments collectively, and in and particular phases of our individual lives
and as Shakespeare and Jaques remind us, we come full circle in the end.

What are the stages in your life?
As you  look back, can you identify distinct stages?


 A new collection of poems selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins, All the World's a Stage, uses Jaques's monologue from As You Like It as an organizing framework for poetry that illustrates and illuminates these recognized stages in our lives, beginning with our entrances and ending with last scene or exits.

You can't help reflecting on your own life -- its trajectory, its individual arc-- as you savor this amazing collection of life encompassing poems.

All the world's a stage.


We all know about the stage where the action takes place in the theater or stage  as a developmental step in a process.

I came across another meaning which adds a richness to our thinking. Wikipedia provides this additional definition of stage.

In chronostratigraphy, a stage is a succession of rock strata laid down in a single age on the geologic timescale, which usually represents millions of years of deposition. A given stage of rock and the corresponding age of time will by convention have the same name, and the same boundaries.
Rock series are divided into stages, just as geological epochs are divided into ages. Stages can be divided into smaller stratigraphic units called chronozones.
This makes me  think of our lives in layers, with new layers added each time we grow and develop and experience more of life.

What are the layers of rock laid down in each age of your life?

What are the acts and scenes in your life?

 All the world's a stage.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilites

Reflect on you life. Can you identify specific acts and scenes that are essential in defining you and your life?

Each of our lives is not necessarily comprised of the seven ages identified by Shakespeare.
List seven ages for your own life.

Write a monologue based on your list describing  seven ages of man ( or woman).

Write a poem, narrative, or essay about one of the ages you have listed. 

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