The Stages of a Human Life: 408 Years Ago vs. Today
But every aging classic needs to be occasionally updated for the sake of remaining relevant, and dammit, what's the modern equivalent to Shakespeare if not me, Cracked.com's Michael Swaim? Verily, I doth be. So lets see how we stack up:
The Lines:At first the infant,Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.The Analysis:Okay Billy Boy, you havent taken a lot of chances here. Its a safe assumption that infants are still going to be puking for the foreseeable future. A recent study showed that about thirty percent of an infants body weight is either green feces or spit-up, and thats all gotta come out sometime. If anything, the weakness here is a lack of information; yes, you want to stay punchy, but the modern infancy really cant be described without the mention of some key points. For example, according to the National Vital Statistics Center, more and more children are being born to women 40 and over, and as a result, Down Syndrome is on the rise. And while infant mortality is dropping for white folks, its still rising for ethnics. Furthermore, the average household can no longer afford a full-time nursemaid, and tends to lean on a daycare center or Television when it comes to child rearing. To be fair, these statistics only apply to children born in the United States, but most U.S. historians agree that Shakespeare would have been American anyway if given the choice.
The Lines:Then, the whining schoolboy with his satchelAnd shining morning face, creeping like snailUnwillingly to school. The Analysis:Again, youre right on for the first line or so; kids whine as much as they ever did. In fact, whining seems to be on the rise (or parenting on the wane), as nearly a quarter of todays U.S. children have
The Lines: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. The Analysis:William. Will. Now you're just getting lazy. Surely, even in your day, claiming that every living (presumably male) human joined the army is a bit of a stretch. And nowadays, its one of the least popular occupations there is. National figures from the
The Lines:And then the justiceIn 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 Analysis:Again with the beards. So, after they finished their tour in the army, they all became judges? Elizabethan England must have been in dire need of blacksmiths. First off, in our time, tours of duty dont necessarily end. Secondly, when you get out, your career path is far from assured. Of the top twenty lines of work sought by veterans, seven are in the realm of corrections officer aka cop, guard, jailer et al, and most of the rest involve repairing or maintaining the same type of computer equipment they repaired or maintained while in the military. They also face a 15 percent unemployment rate, according to the
The Lines: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 wide,For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,Turning again towards childish treble, pipesAnd whistles in his sound. The Analysis:Lets get this straight: so after all these judges retire, they hang out in slippers, frilled capri pants, and their old tights. Then their voices pull a Thom Yorke, and just sort of stay up there in the falsetto. What youre describing, dear Will, is a transvestite. And while we certainly have them, theyre no longer an integral phase of the human life cycle.
The Lines:Last scene of all,That ends this strange eventful history,Is second childishness and mere oblivion,Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
When not writing for Cracked, Michael is apostrophizing dead literary figures as head writer and co-founder of Those Aren't Muskets!