Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

The Seven Ages of Man

Originally posted on December 26, 2008

(Words by William Shakespeare; Cartoons by Adam Blatner)

[Adam’s note: As a teenager, I read the works of William Shakespeare, took a class in school, enjoyed the shaping of words, declaiming, enunciating, the feel of his rhythms. (I was in a local high school contest once, where I recited and enacted the “tennis ball” speech in Henry V.) One of my favorite passages was the one that I illustrated here when I was around sixteen years old. The style of cartooning was in part inspired by both the cartoonists and the general thrust of the early satirical MAD comic books. Occasionally they’d take a poem, such as Poe’s “The Raven,” and illustrate it with silly pictures. So here was my version. (I found this among my old papers, yellowed with age.)]

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 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 a furnace,
With a woeful ballad made
to his mistress’ eyebrow!

Then a soldier, full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honor,
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
towards 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.

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