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How Dare I Even Try to Cover Shakespeare

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All the world’s a page
And all the men and women merely poets
They have their exits and their entrances,
And in time they write of every stage of this life
The penning of seven ages. At first, the infant,
Rapping and clapping  in mother’s arms
Then the whining schoolboy, with his backpack
And mourning face, snailing his way
To school. And then the lover,
Sighing between couplets, with a woeful ballad
Music to his mistress’ ear. Then a soldier,
Fighting life’s battles on paper and screens
Jealous in honor, spoken word slamming
Seeking the published prize
At the risk of denial. And then the justice,
Fattened and fueled with philosophy,
With eyes widened by profound thoughts
Full of wisdom of past and present
And so he coins his phrase. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and withered wordsmith,
With spectacles on nose and irony alongside;
His youthful imagery, well saved, a world too wide
For his shortened verse, and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish times, whines
And whistles of his own elegy. Last stanza of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Blank verse, refrain and mere oblivion,
Sans rhythm, sans rhyme, sans breath, sans everything.

 

ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE

By William Shakespeare

(from As You Like It, spoken by Jacques)

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 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 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.

poetryfoundation.org

Photo taken in Stratford, Ontario, home of the Stratford Festival and Shakespearean plays.

 

A wonderful challenge by Bryan Ens for dVerse Poetics, where he asked us to “cover” a poem by a poet whom you admire. I missed the prompt so I’m linking this up to “Open Link Night”.

Feel free to join in with one poem of your choice!

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22 responses »

  1. Such a challenge you set for yourself Mish ! I admire your response as one goes through life stages from the infant to the old man sans rhythm and rhyme and sans everything ~

    Reply
  2. Brilliant! a classic and your poetic words are moving and strong. 🙂

    Reply
  3. Lovely cover of Shakespeare, who is not the easiest writer to emulate. Well done.

    Reply
  4. Loved this!

    Reply
  5. Great finish ..blank verse sans everything. Nicely done.

    Reply
  6. Whistles!!❤️ this is absolutely exquisitely penned, Mish 😀

    Reply
  7. I loved how you kept the it so close while still giving it such a new meaning, really well done,

    Reply
  8. Bravo, Mish! Great job! I am a huge Shakespeare fan and I not only recognise the original but love the cover version!

    Reply
  9. Wow, wow, and wow again! You said the same as The Bard, and yet in your own way. A delightful cover! !

    Reply
  10. The freedom of a blank page upon which we can write our own story – that sounds good.. and you covered Shakespeare wonderfully

    Reply
  11. Well done Mish, a great cover version for our times :o)

    Reply
  12. Oh! I think you covered yourself very, very well~! Brava! Mish this is superb. You did Shakespeare proud.

    Reply
  13. What a brilliant idea, Mish. So many years have passed since I studied and tried to understand Shakespeare. You bring it home. Up at Lake Tahoe they have a festival that presents his play in contemporary verbiage. I’m ashamed, I’ve never been.

    Reply
  14. This is absolutely wonderful, I was practically giddy reading word by word, expecting and trying to guess how the cover will progress next.

    Reply
  15. Fun understanding of using poetry and a life expression

    Reply
  16. Masterful. Just a great read.

    Reply
  17. All the world’s a stage!

    Brilliant way of extending the cover Mish! Love it!

    Hank

    Reply
  18. How dare you try to cover Shakespeare, only to masterfully succeed! Loved this.

    Reply
  19. Yeah just jump into the deep end of the pool. You deserve only the best, so do we and we have it in you. Bravo

    Reply
  20. To cover Shakespeare seems like such a daunting task. Good poem.

    Reply

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