Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Shakespeare made me do it

In a recent entry, talking about Iris and her new bed, I used this sentence:  "Now, if she will only accept it beside my bed at night, sans taxi, I'll be very happy."
Cliff was reading my blog entry and said, "What does 'sans' mean?"
Oops.  The funny thing is, using that word was the most natural thing you can imagine.  It's a word I often use in my thoughts; I guess I just never say it.  
One of my favorite Shakespeare quotes is the one that starts out, "All the world's a stage...".  I'll bet I reread that three hundred times during Senior Lit, when I was supposed to be doing something else.  It just rang so true back then; and in this autumn of my life, I know it to be true in a way I couldn't have imagined as a teenager.  
Now I see it's from "As You Like It".  I'm not familiar with the play; I just happened to find this piece in a poem section of a Senior Literature book in 1961, and I couldn't stop reading it.  

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 school-boy, 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 honour, 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 lin'd,
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 slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;
His youthful hose, well sav'd, 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.

And that brings to mind one of my favorite Bible passages that is pure poetry when read from the King James version:

Ecclesiastes 12 
King James Version

1Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them; 2While the sun, or the light, or the moon, or the stars, be not darkened, nor the clouds return after the rain: 3In the day when the keepers of the house shall tremble, and the strong men shall bow themselves, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look out of the windows be darkened, 4And the doors shall be shut in the streets, when the sound of the grinding is low, and he shall rise up at the voice of the bird, and all the daughters of musick shall be brought low; 5Also when they shall be afraid of that which is high, and fears shall be in the way, and the almond tree shall flourish, and the grasshopper shall be a burden, and desire shall fail: because man goeth to his long home, and the mourners go about the streets: Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. 7Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. 8Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity.



Mrs. L said...

We had to memorize that soliloquy sophomore year. So painful. My favorite starts out, "mewling and puking"... I use it in a sentence as often as I can.

Margaret said...

Sans is French for without. :)

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It's been so long I don't know, but I suppose we read Shakespeare in school, but I did enjoy your post and of course I love the verse...vanity of vanities...

Lori said...

As You Like It is a very good play, very funny, one of the better ones, in fact. And I do also love that scripture from Eccl. I used "sans" in conversation with my kids a long time ago and they asked me what it meant, so I got to give them a quick Latin lesson. I quite often use the term "sans doute" instead of saying "yes" or "of course". My kids think I'm weird!