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Poetry Analysis Notes


The Seven Ages of Man
by William Shakespeare
interpreted by Ryan Troeschel

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.
And then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel,
And shining morning face, creeping like a 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 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 lined,
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 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 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.

Poet: William Shakespeare was born on April 26, 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon. At an extremely young age, Shakespeare showed interest in literature and eventually became an actor, dramatist, and an English poet. Shakespeare created many comedic plays such as "The Merry Wives of Windsor", "Much Ado About Nothing", and "As You Like It". Shakespeare also wrote many tragedies such as "Hamlet", "Othello", "King Lear", and "Macbeth". Shakespeare's sentences were usually fragmented or contained inversions. His comedies usually show the character solving problems in humorous ways, while his tragedies show the character dueling with his fate. To Americans all around the world , Shakespeare is considered the greatest poet and actor ever.

Vocabulary: mewling - whimpering, crying like a baby.
pard - a leopard or panther.
capon - a roasted chicken.
pantaloon - a thin, foolish old man.
shank - leg.
sans - without, lacking.

Type of poem:
This poem is a narrative.

Speaker: The speaker is a man who is familiar with drama and is expressing his many philisophical ideas on life.

This poem is directed towards the general audience.

Tone: The tone of this poem is fairly calm and soft.

This poem has a great meaning. It uses drama to symbolize and portray life. It talks about the progression of life through time. As time goes by, man changes greatly. From Shakespeare's eyes, life has been divided into seven separate stages. He talks briefly about each of these seven stages throughout all of this short, but powerful poem.

Structure of poem: The structure of this poem is that of free verse.

Examples of poetic techniques used in the poem:

"For his shrunk shank;" Alliteration
"Sighing like furnace,"
"With spectacles on nose and pouch on side"
"All the world's a stage,"
"And all the men and women merely players"

Connection between the poem and the poet's life and/or times: Shakespeare show his great interest for literature in this poem. He talks about a young boy and the seven stages he goes through to become a man. He explains each stage briefly and then moves on to the next. Shakespeare's life was similar to that of the young man's in the poem. He was born and then went through stages to become what he was.

Most memorable quote from the poem:
"All the world's stage,
And all the men and women merely players:"

© Smelli Notes 2001