Tuesday

Jan. 2, 2001

The Seven Ages of Man

by William Shakespeare

Broadcast date: TUESDAY, 2 January 2001

Poem: from Act II, Scene vii of As You Like It, by William Shakespeare.

            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 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 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.

It's the birthday in Janesville, Wisconsin, 1914, of William Scott. He worked an 80-acre farm in southern Wisconsin, and wrote the novels The Plowhand (1957), and Red Sunrise (1958), and the poetry collection On My Knees in the Field (1977).

"I'd take my notepad and pencil out to the windmill at dusk during summer. That sound of the wind in the rusted mill paddles, the water burbling up from Lord knows how deep, and the improbable sunsets—trying to get all those things down right on paper was not only a challenge, but the only recreation open to me."

It's the birthday of Janice Slepian, born in 1921, in New York City. She worked for years as a speech therapist, and then came out with a series of picture books on children with disabilities. At 57, she wrote her first novel, The Alfred Summer (1980), which was the beginning of a string of young-adult books, all dealing with handicapped kids.

It's the birthday of short story writer and novelist Leonard Michaels, born in New York City (1933). He grew up in the Lower East Side, the son of immigrant Polish Jews, and spoke only Yiddish until he was about five or six years old. His mother introduced him to English when she would read aloud from Charles Dickens. He's the author of Going Places (1969), and I Would Have Saved Them If I Could (1975).

"If you can imagine a little boy listening to his mother, who can hardly speak English, reading Dickens hour after hour in the most extraordinary accent, it might help to account for my peculiar ear."

It's the birthday in Bremerhaven, Germany, 1948 of war novelist Leonard B. Scott, author of Charlie Mike (1985), The Last Run (1987), and The Hill (1989).

(Instapaper)

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