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:

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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 By Shirley And Shakespeare. Appreciation By P S Remesh Chandran

009

Two Famous Death Poems By 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/
First Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Books>Poetry, Drama & Criticism

Link: http://sahyadribooks-remesh.blogspot.in/2012/02/009-two-famous-death-poems-shirley-and.html

 

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 has been written on death than on birth. It is considered an important event in man’s life. In many communities throughout the world, death is an occasion for rejoicing 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.

 

I. 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 on stage as plays. His wishes have been granted by Time. Now his plays are rarely acted, but being read and appreciated as literary masterpieces as he wished. He is being taught and learned in universities, and less in theatres. 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 will be paid in Heaven.

 

01. A Burial Painting By Enrico Pollastrini 1851.

When we have done our works in this world, we return to our home which is in heaven where we will be paid our wages for the work done in the world. We will be blessed or punished according to the measure of the virtue or vice resulted from our work. It is a consolation to think that there is an after world there where our actions are weighed and judged by sympathetic and kindly beings, after having gone through a life time of injustices and ingratitude in this world. Death is a release which is universal and man cannot escape from it.

Even the young brimming with vibrancy and loveliness of life has to die.

 

02. Children Accompanying The Dead To Burial By Vasily Perov 1865.

There is no armour to hold against death and man has to succumb to the inevitability of the final passing away. Or is it the passing away final? He has no protection from death and cannot refuse to pass through this gateway of death to the next world and the next form of being. ‘The rich and leisurely golden lads and girls and the poor and lowly chimney-sweepers who do the dirtiest of works- all have to die. Physical strength, scholarship and authority follow man to the grave and finally turn to dust and oblivion. Even young lovers who seem to be brimming with the vibrancy and loveliness of life have to die some day.

Is it to bliss that we go after death?

 

03. The Poor Man’s Way To Grave By Jakub Schikaneder 1886.

The parting soul finally gets some peace, since it has now been released from the clutches of the world, 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 of well-placed persons and people in power and the mortal strikes from authorities and tyrants- the very things that make hell in human lives and man fears most – needn’t anymore be feared.

With death, our burdens of life are lightened, for we do not need clothing and eating anymore.

 

04. Wounded Worker’s Farewell By Erik Henningsen 1895.

With death, our burdens of life are lightened, for we do not need clothing and eating anymore. The deadly lightning and thunder-bolts- the dread of all out-in-the-field workers- will not touch/affect us anymore. Abusing words and unkind criticism, which we encountered everywhere in life and which constantly humiliated us, lowered our status and self-respect and tormented our souls, will no more reach our ears, for we will have no more ears. Weeping and happiness are past. We reach bliss, the state of supreme happiness. And distinctions also are things of the past; the fragile reed and the hardened oak are the same to the dead man.

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

 

05. Grave Diggers And Grieving Family By Erik Henningsen 1886.

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

 

James Shirley was an English teacher and poet who became famous later for his plays. He died during the great London Fire. Like Shakespeare’s Fear No More, Death The Leveller also is part of one of his plays. He conceives death as a great leveller, an equalizer, who levells the distinctions between the rich and the poor, the high and the low and the hard and the 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 his 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.

 

06. A Poor Man’s Funeral By Oscar Graf 1900.

Glory is but a momentary glimpse of eternity. It just shows us the magnificence waiting for us in our after life to live in permanently. Great emperors like Alexander and Ashoka have conquered vast plains of land and hordes of armies, won battlefields and raised victory memorials, but they too have had to go to the other world. Great swordsmen reaped heads of opponents in the battlefield, but even their strong nerves have had to yield at last and they too have had to stoop to fate, early or late. Actually they were not winning over the other, but taming each other. Great War heroes all will become wounded captives one day, creeping to their deaths. In the hands of death they are now pale with shame because, unlike in the battlefield, they cannot fight their captor now.

Only our just and right actions will blossom and emit sweet smell, after we have gone.

 

07. Laid At Rest In Elegance By Luis Montero 1867.

Victory memorials may wither away and great battles in history forgotten. 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 one day 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 away in dust.

Are we really living here, or lying somewhere else and dreaming about living here?

 

III. WHY THIS SIMILARITY BETWEEN THE TWO SONGS?

 

Death is a universal closing of a way of life in one universe and the beginning of another in another universe. It is believed that, and also it is a thrill to think that, once that gravitational constriction of a black hole that is the life-proofed passage between two universes is passed, the dead and the now reborn organism would feel nothing about anything that might or might not have happened. It would be a feeling like everything reversed mathematically. Some seers have even doubted as to whether we are really living in this world, or lying relaxed in some other planet or universe and dreaming about living in this World. Where seers and poets are concerned, and involved, anything strange can be conceived and formulated. Bizarre notions are not un-travelled lands for poets. We would expect these two poets to elaborate on life after the feeling of death. It was but their modesty and reserve that prevented William Shakespeare and James Shirley from elaborating on after-death experiences, and not their unfamiliarity with any such notions, especially Shakespeare having created a long line of uncanny characters.

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

 

08. The Final Resting Place By Albert Anker 1863.

Since death is universal, it rouses similar feelings in man everywhere, though intensity and direction of emotions may vary from person to person, country to country and continent to continent. Some spend the time of bereavement in absolute silence and grief and some spend it in dancing and singing and revelry. The universality of death is a foundation for the similarity between the two poems, Fear No More and Death The Leveller. They both share the universal feeling about death. They are similar in many other aspects also. They hold the same views and project the same ideas. Both poems celebrate the glory of death. Both poems are part of plays by the authors. 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. Or it can also be that he was absolutely independent of Shakespeare’s influence in his thoughts. And both poets were Londoners too.

Has mankind lost the formula for the longevity of life?

 

What is the highest possible lifespan of human beings and how can it be raised are questions scientists have been trying to answer for a long time. How death occurs and why it occurs also have been subjects for research, and speculation, through many centuries. Some of the Biblical characters seem to have lived through 800 and 900 years. The ancient Indian classics Mahabharata and Ramayana also have plenty of characters who lived beyond a thousand years. They must have known the formula for the prolongation of life. Even though it is believed that the Bible is a coded manifesto recording everything that concerns man, even the events that may happen in his future, mankind seems to have lost this formula for suspending death and prolonging life. He could have lived at least 150 years and succumbed to death only after fulfilling his mission somewhat to his satisfaction, had he not lost this formula for longevity of life. Lifespan of human beings is not a fixed one, not seventy or eighty years anyway, for it has risen and fallen everywhere in accordance with the availability or unavailability of food and other resources.

What is the greatest wonder in this world?

 

09. Here Lies Your Ancestors By Rudolf Wiegmann 1835.

In Mahabharata, there is this story of Prince Yudhishdtira and his four younger brothers travelling through jungle in search of water when they were ousted from their kingdom after having lost a game of gambling to their co-brother. The youngest brother was the first to find water in a pond beneath a tree. But before he could drink, an incorporeal voice from heaven warned him not to drink that water lest he would die, unless he correctly answered a question before drinking. The question was ‘What is the greatest wonder in this world’? He heeded not the warning, drank the water, and fell dead then and there. His three elders who went in search of the youngest brother one after the other also had the same experience and fell dead beside that pond. Finally Yudhishdtira went in search of the four and was asked the same question by the incorporeal voice. ‘Even while death occurs everywhere around us and we still thinking we will never die is the greatest wonder in this world’ was Yudhishdtira’s answer, which pleased the incorporeal voice. It was the Man of Time in disguise, who resurrected from death the four princes and blessed Yudhishdtira for his virtuousness.

 

First Published: 21 March 2011

Last Edited……: 28 March 2017

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Pictures Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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Picture Credits:

01. A Burial Painting By Enrico Pollastrini 1851.

02. Children Accompanying The Dead To Burial By Vasily Perov 1865.

03. The Poor Man’s Way To Grave By Jakub Schikaneder 1886.

04. Wounded Worker’s Farewell By Erik Henningsen 1895.

05. Grave Diggers And Grieving Family By Erik Henningsen 1886.

06. A Poor Man’s Funeral By Oscar Graf 1900.

07. Laid At Rest In Elegance By Luis Montero 1867.

08. The Final Resting Place By Albert Anker 1863.

09. Here Lies Your Ancestors By Rudolf Wiegmann 1835.

10. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

Meet the author: About the author and accessing his other literary works.

 

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’. Edits and owns Bloom Books Channel. Born and brought up in Nanniyode, a little village in the Sahya Mountain Valley in Kerala. Father British Council-trained English Teacher and mother university-educated. Matriculation with High First Class, Pre Degree studies in Science with National Merit Scholarship, discontinued Diploma Studies in Electronics and entered politics. Unmarried and single.

10. Author Profile of P S Remesh Chandran By Sahyadri Archives.

 

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Bloom Books Trivandrum, Comparison Poems, Cymbeline, Death Poems, Death The Leveller, Essays On Death, Fear No More, Free Student Notes, James Shirley, Literary Essays, Literary Reviews, Poems On Death, Poetry Appreciations, P S Remesh Chandran, Sahyadri Books Trivandrum, William Shakespeare.

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