Seven-Up Ages

Shakespeare’s ‘Seven Ages of Man’ monologue from AS YOU LIKE IT wrings well the rungs of lives’ ladders.

Here I attempted, birdlike, to make a deposit on each rung. Consciously choosing limerick form to lighten the Bard’s message, I ended up finding it all too sad for words. As did Shakespeare, perhaps.

Although the resulting limericks made me grin. Wryly.

To the bairn in the puked mules: You’re spraying
with no notion what your pa is saying:
You’ve no choice but Start,
so change diapers, gird heart
for the lead you’ll be ever less playing.

To the lad lusting after his teacher
while avoiding the lash of the preacher:
Your learning will swell
should you stay past the bell
and cosy up to your muse, should you reach her.

To the lover: Lad, be less remorseful!
Get a life. A cold shower. Be forceful.
Eyebrows serenaded
have been trimmed or they’ve faded.
They’re not marks of the brave or resourceful.

To the soldier: You seek reputation
in a bubble of blood that a nation
offers every so often
to winnow its soft men
and harden survivors they ration.

To the justice: You’ve just et a chicken
with a quickness that followers of Wiccan
would deplore had they store,
but they don’t, anymore.
Since you sentenced them all, they’ve been stricken.

To the old: In your dotage you’re trilling
and your edicts which we once found thrilling
are unseemly at best.
You’ve become a weak pest
with a whistle inheritors find chilling.

To the oldest: You hang there forgetting
yourself and the bed you are wetting.
Missing teeth, misting eyes,
a lost sense of surprise.
If you knew, you would find this upsetting.

© Alan Reynolds, 2016

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