All The World’s A Stage. Shakespeare Song. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

 

31.

All The World’s A Stage. Shakespeare Song. Appreciation by P.S.Remesh Chandran.

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum.

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 12th Jul 2011.  Short URL http://nut.bz/.ajc3xow/
Posted in Wikinut Poetry

 

Human beings are born far earlier than when they are ripe to be delivered. If they are retained inside mother body till sufficient growth, the child cannot come out due to large head size. So it has been arranged that they come out early when the head is comparatively small, and remain an invalid infant in the outside world for a very long time, compared to the relatively short infancy of other mammals. That is the price human beings pay for their higher intelligence among the mammalian world.

Life progresses in a circle in which the feelings and passions attached to a particular moment will have to be gone through again.

William Shakespeare was one of the great English poets and dramatists of the Sixteenth Century. All The World Is A Stage is a song from his play As You Like It, which in the play is sung by the melancholy philosopher Jacques. Whether life progresses in a straight line or in a circle is a question still remaining unanswered satisfactorily by philosophers. A point in a straight line will never be repeated, and the feelings and passions attached to that particular moment can never be enjoyed anymore. But a circle is the only figure where every point flies straight forward along its tangent and at the same ends where it starts. If life progresses in a circle, the feelings and passions attached to a particular age certainly can be gone through and experienced again in life after a time as illustrated in this song, the old age being an exact replica of the infancy. But it has to be agreed that Jacques’ description of the various stages of man’s life is rather cynical.

Suppose a man and a monkey are born on the same day: The monkey attains maturity far earlier.

Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Stratford Upon Avon.

Man’s history on earth seems to be pitiful and comic. He has seven distinct stages in his life in this world which appears as characters one after the other in a play. Infant, school boy, lover, soldier, magistrate, old man and the dying man-all these parts are played by us one after another on the stage that is this world, unless untimely called back to the place where we came from. Mankind has the longest infancy in the animal world. Suppose a monkey and a man is born on the same day. When it is one year old, the monkey would be performing many wonderful tricks and impossible feats in the trees, but the human child would still be lying there invalid, vulnerable and unable to do things by itself.

The most beautiful thing in this world is the morning face of a child going to school.

Shakespeare’s Statue in London.

This long period of helpless infancy is a preparation for the future mighty acts that are to be performed by man. Shakespeare spells this philosophy strongly in the song. A newborn baby kicks and cries in his nurses’ arms. The whining school boy with his heavy set of books and a shining morning face creeps like an unwilling snail to his grammar school. Yes, times have not changed much. The scenes are the same even today. The most beautiful thing in this world to look at is still the morning face of a child going to school, and when he returns in the evening from school, he still looks like returning from the battle field after a fight.

The universal picture of lost lover, heaving sighs like a hot furnace.

Shakespeare’s Family Circle. A German Engraving.

The third stage is that of the lover who has loved and lost who sighs like a hot furnace and sings sad songs about his lost love. Such sentimentality and unripeness shall be forgiven, as it also is a natural stage in the normal evolvement of the human psyche and physique. Then the stage of the lover strongly and silently evolves into that of the soldier, when sentimentality withdraws and strength appears in its place. In this stage, which is unusually colourful and lively, he seeks chivalry and glory and is even ready to get into and explode himself inside the cannon’s mouth to gain a bubble reputation, though momentary.

A person standing outside this world, watching us, would be amazed at the naturalness of our acting

King John acted at Drury Lane Theatre.

Now come the rest three successive stages of the middle aged man, the old man and the dying man, which also we act such extremely well on the stage that if someone stands outside this world and watches us, he would be amazed at how naturally we act. The fifth is a transition period in which man is equipped with the energy of the young and the experience of the old. How fortunate and prime a time and state to form oneself a statesman! In this middle age he is exceptionally able to distinguish between the right and the wrong and behaves like a magistrate, the man of justice. Then he becomes old, his body becomes weak, and he begins to wear light slippers in place of heavy boots. He wears spectacles and his cheeks are baggy. His trousers are now loose, and they become a vast playground to his thin legs. We may like the old men if at least their sounds are sweet and their words are meaningful, but alas, he has now lost several of his teeth and his words have lost their sweetness and meaning. In the seventh and the last stage, which ends this strange history of man’s life on the world’s stage, he looses all his teeth, loses sight and taste and everything else and becomes again a child to close the circle. And perhaps after death he may go beyond this world and reside in other realms of this limitless universe, or born again in this world itself to repeat everything.

 

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons.
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Dear Reader,

You are invited to kindly visit the Author’s Web Site of P.S.Remesh Chandran, Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum at:

https://sites.google.com/site/timeuponmywindowsill/wiki-nut-articles

Translations of this article in French, German, Spanish and Italian published in Knol.com can be read by clicking here.

http://knol.google.com/k/psremesh-chandran/-/2vin4sjqlcnot/0#collections

 

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All The Worlds A Stage, Ancient Dramas, Appreciations, Articles, As You Like It, British Authors, British Writers, English Literature, Essays, P S Remesh Chandran, Playwrights, Poetical Dramas, Poets, Reintroductions, Reviews, Sahyadri Books Bloom Books Trivandrum, William Shakespeare

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PSRemeshChandra
Editor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan : The Intelligent Picture Book.

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009. Two Famous Death Poems. Shirley And Shakespeare. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran

009. Two Famous Death Poems. Shirley And Shakespeare. Appreciation by P S Remesh Chandran 

Editor, Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum

 

By PSRemeshChandra, 21st Mar 2011  Short URL http://nut.bz/evi23ktc/
Posted in Wikinut> Poetry, Drama & Criticism

 

Death is the end of all earthly cares and the beginning of eternal things. It is believed that the moment we die, we are born in another universe. With it begins a new way of being. More number of songs and poems are written on death than on birth. It is considered an important event in man’s life. In many communities all over the world, death is an occasion for festivity and celebration. Shakespeare’s Fear No More and James Shirley’s Death The Leveller are appreciated here.

Shakespeare at last has begun to be read and appreciated, than being acted on stage.

 

1.FEAR NO MORE. A SONG BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

William Shakespeare was one of the world’s greatest poets and dramatists. He considered himself a poet, but to make a living, could not exclude himself from the tedious work of being on stage. He very much wished his plays to be read and appreciated more as literary creations, than to be acted as plays on stage. His wishes have been granted by Time. Now his plays are rarely acted, but being read and appreciated as literary masterpieces as he wished. Fear No More is a song from his play Cymbeline. Two brothers weep over the supposed death of their sister who is only unconscious. The song is actually an Ode To Death. Death comes as a release from the evils of the world and is inevitable to all. This song is the poet’s prayer for the peace of the departed soul.

Work in this World, for which wages are paid in Heaven.

When we have done our worldly works, we return to our home that is in heaven where we will be paid wages for our work done in the world. We will be blessed or punished, according to the measure of the virtue or vice resulted from our work. Death is universal and man cannot escape from it. There is no armour to hold against death and man has to succumb to the inevitable. He has no protection from this gateway to the next being. The rich and leisurely golden lads and girls, as well as the chimney-sweepers doing the dirtiest of works, have all to die. Authority, scholarship and physical strength follows suit and finally reaches the dust. Even young lovers die.

Is it to bliss that we go after death?

The parting soul gets peace, since it is released from the evils of the world. It needn’t anymore fear the heat of the Sun or the angry outbreak of winter. The frown and anger and displeasure and stroke of well-placed figures and authorities and tyrants, the very things that make human lives hell in this world, needn’t be feared anymore. Our burdens are very much lightened, for clothing and eating are no more needed. The deadly lightning and thunder-bolts, the dread of out-on-the-field workers, will not affect us any more. Abusing words and unkind criticism, which constantly humiliated us, lowered our status and self-esteem, and tormented our souls will no more reach our ears. Weeping and happiness are past. We reach bliss, supreme happiness. And distinctions are also past- the reed and the oak are the same to the dead man.

A land where sceptre and crown and scythe and spade are made equal.

 

2. DEATH THE LEVELLER. A POEM BY JAMES SHIRLEY.

James Shirley was an English poet and teacher who later became famous for his plays. He died during the great London Fire. Death The Leveller is part of one of his plays. He conceives death as a great leveller who keeps no distinctions between rich and poor, high and low and hard and soft. The glories of our blood and state are nothing but shadows. Family traditions and social status do not come to our aid when we are dying. Man has no immunity against fate. Death lays his icy hands on kings and subjects alike. Kings wearing the sceptre and crown, the symbols of their sovereignty and peasants wearing the scythe and spade, the tools of their trade are all brought to dust and made equal by death without any distinctions.

Eloquence of a poet in defense of death.

Glory is but a momentary glimpse of eternity. Great emperors like Ashoka and Alexander have conquered vast plains and armies, won battlefields and raised victory memorials, but they too have gone to the other world. Great swordsmen reap heads of their opponents in the battlefield, but even their strong nerves must yield at last and they too have to stoop to fate, early or late. Actually they are not winning over the other, but taming one another. Great war heroes one day become wounded captives creeping to their death. They are now pale with shame being in the hands of death, because unlike in the War-field, they cannot now fight against their captor. Victory memorials may wither away and great battles in history fade from memory. The once-victor will one day become a bleeding victim on the purple altar of death, purple because of blood and gore. However high our heads are held, they will have to come down to the cold tomb. Great heroic acts do not survive us. Only the just and right actions of a man will blossom and emit sweet smell, after he has long withered in dust.

Are we really living here or dreaming about living here?

 

3. WHY THIS SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE TWO SONGS?

Death is the universal closing of a way of life in one universe and the starting of another one in another universe. It is believed that and also it is indeed a thrill to think that, once the gravitational constriction of the black hole that is the life-proofed passage between two universes is passed, the dead and reborn being would feel nothing about anything that might have or might not have happened. It would be felt like everything reversed exactly mathematically. Some seers have even doubted as to whether we are really living in this world, or lying relaxed in some universe and dreaming about living a life in the World. When poets and seers are concerned and involved, anything strange can be conceived and formulated. Bizarre notions are not un-travelled land for poets. It is therefore only their modesty and reserve that prevented William Shakespeare and James Shirley from elaborating on the above ideas, certainly not their unfamiliarity with any such notions, especially Shakespeare with his long line of uncanny characters.

Death is universal, so rouses similar feelings in man everywhere.

Since death is universal, it rouses similar feelings in man everywhere, though intensity and velocity of emotions may vary from person to person. That is the foundation for the similarity between the two poems, Fear No More and Death The Leveller. They are similar in many other aspects also. Both poems celebrate the glory of death. They hold the same views and project the same ideas. Both poems are part of their plays. Both poets used the same word Sceptre to denote Kingly Authority. Shakespeare hints that we will be paid our wages in heaven for our deeds done in this world. Shirley warns us that only our just and rightful actions would survive us. Both poets project the inevitability and inescapability of death. Shakespeare’s life period in England was 1564-1616 and Shirley’s was 1596-1666. Shirley was 14 years old when Shakespeare was 44. Therefore Shirley certainly might have been inspired by Shakespeare. And both poets were Londoners too.

Tags

Appreciations, Cymbeline, Death The Leveller, English Songs, Fear No More, James Shirley, Literature And Language, P S Remesh Chandran, Poetry, Reviews, Sahyadri Books And Bloom Books Trivandrum, William Shakespeare

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Rathnashikamani
Shirley might have been inspired by Shakespeare.

But, certainly I’m inspired by your literary work here on Wikinut.

This article of appreciation by you has brought the great poets together.

Dear Reader,

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Meet the author

PSRemeshChandra
Author profileEditor of Sahyadri Books & Bloom Books, Trivandrum. Author of several books in English and in Malayalam. And also author of Swan: The Intelligent Picture Book. Born and brought up in the beautiful village of Nanniyode in Trivandrum District in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Unmarried and single. Edits Bloom Books Channel, world’s foremost producers of musical English Recitation Videos.

 

 

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