Sans Sentimentality

Somewhere, on a thread below, a final judgment was rendered: "Andworst of all its hopelessly sentimental."Which brought to mind an utterly unsentimental reading of the human condition:

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;And then the whining school-boy, with his satchelAnd shining morning face, creeping like snailUnwillingly to school. And then the lover,Sighing like furnace, with a woeful balladMade 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 reputationEven 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 shiftsInto the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;His youthful hose, well sav'd, a world too wideFor his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,Turning again toward childish treble, pipesAnd 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.

(As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7)

Robert P. Imbelli, a long-time Commonweal contributor, is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. A book of essays in his honor, The Center Is Jesus Christ Himself, edited by Andrew Meszaros, was published this year by The Catholic University of America Press.

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