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 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.
— William Shakespeare
Spoken by Jaques to Duke Senior in Act II, Scene VII of William Shakespeare's play As You Like It, All The World's A Stage has arguably become more famous than the play it is taken from. Jaques' monologue describes the seven stages of a man's life from birth to death.
Written in 1599 but not appearing as part of the Shakespeare record until the publication of the First Folio in 1623, As You Like It tells the tale of Rosalind and Celia's journey to the Forest of Arden.
Canadian rock group Rush titled their 1976 live album, All The World's A Stage and regarded it as the end of the first chapter of their career. The band returned to reference All The World's A Stage in their 1981 song Limelight where lyricist and drummer Neil Peart writes of his discomfort with the band's fame:
"All the world's indeed a stage
And we are merely players
Performers and portrayers
Each another's audience
Outside the gilded cage."