Thursday, 27 July 2017

All the world’s a stage…(Poem & Glossary)

BBC Learning English

‘All the world’s a stage…’

“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 everything.”

Adopted from 
Jaques, As You Like It, Act II, Scene VI

NOTES/GLOSSARY
merely = just, only
time = here, a life or lifetime
part = here, a character in a play or drama
ages = here, periods of time
infant = a young child
mewling = a small weak noise that a cat makes (in modern English, 'to mew')
puking = being sick, vomiting
satchel = a shoulder bag that children sometimes use to carry books to school
sighing = here, sighing with sexual pleasure
furnace = an object which contains a fire, used for heating
woeful = unhappy (old-fashioned English)
ballad = a slow love song
mistress = 'mistress' means female lover but it can also mean a woman in charge
eyebrow = the row of small hairs above someone's eye
oaths = promises
pard = a large cat, such as a leopard (old-fashioned English)
jealous in honour = here, jealous means that someone takes care of something very carefully
- so the young man takes great care of his honour, his reputation as a good man
sudden and quick in quarrel = 'quarrel' is a slightly old-fashioned word for an argument;
'sudden' here means unpredictable - so in an argument this young man might suddenly and
become violent
Seeking the bubble reputation = a bubble is empty, so by 'seeking the bubble reputation',
Shakespeare means that the man does things that make him look good even if they are
pointless
Even in the cannon's mouth = a 'cannon' was a large gun, and it's 'mouth' was at the front -
so the man seeks his reputation even if it means standing in front of guns, i.e. going to war or
getting in fights
justice = here, a judge or magistrate - so someone very respected

round belly = belly means 'stomach' - so a 'round belly' is a large or fat man's stomach!
good capon lin'd = 'to line' means to fill something at the edges (e.g. 'line a tin for baking a
cake') and
 'capon' was chicken to eat - so the man was fat from eating good chicken
wise saws = wise sayings or phrases (old-fashioned English)
instances = examples (as in 'for instance')
lean and slipper'd pantaloon = 'lean' meant 'thin'; a slipper is what people wear indoors; a
'pantaloon' meant an old man - so this describes a thin old man who stays inside
pouch = a small bag for carrying money
hose = tights, thin trousers that men wore in Shakespeare's time
well sav'd = kept carefully
a world too wide = much too big
shrunk shank = 'to shrink' means to grow smaller, and a 'shank' is a piece of meat cut from a
leg of an animal - so the man's legs have grown narrower with age
manly = if someone is 'manly' they have characteristics people traditionally admire in men,
e.g. being strong and brave
Turning again toward = becoming again
treble = a treble is the higher part of a piece of music - so Shakespeare is referring to a boy's
high voice
pipes = a musical instrument that makes a high sound
eventful = full of activity, containing lots of events
history = here, a kind of play that talks about events in the past
second childishness = being like a child again (in modern English, we sometimes talk about a
'second childhood')
mere = here, absolute or complete (old-fashioned use)
oblivion = if someone is 'oblivious' they don't know what is happening around them, and if
they live in 'oblivion' they are completely forgotten by other people
Sans = without (this is French for 'without')

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