Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: On Aging
  • Authors: Anonymous, Montaigne, William Shakespeare
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • Coordinating editor: James D. Mardock

  • Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    On Aging

    Youth and age

    Modernized from Religious Lyrics of the XVth Century, ed. Carleton Brown. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1939, 233-236). Of 96 lines, the selection includes lines 1-4 and 25-36.

    From the time that we were bore
    Our youth passeth from day to day,
    And age increaseth more and more;
    And so doth it now, the sooth to say.
    Our body will itch, our bones will ache,
    Our own flesh will be our foe,
    Our head, our hands then will shake,
    Our legs will tremble when we go,
    Our bones will dry as doth a stake,
    And in our body we shall be woe;
    Our nose, our cheeks, will wax all black,
    And our glad cheer will vade us fro;
    And then our teeth be gone also,
    Our tongue shall lose his fair language.
    Pray we for us self and other mo,
    That god send us patience in our old age.

    From Psalm 90

    This passage is taken from the Geneva Bible, the version Shakespeare used. Spelling and punctuation have been modernized. Chapter numbers are given in superscript.

    54 For a thousand years in thy sight are as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
    5 Thou hast overflowed them, they are as a sleep; in the morning he groweth like the grass;
    6 In the morning it flourisheth and groweth, but in the evening it is cut down and withereth.
    7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
    8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, and our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
    9 For all our days are past in thine anger; we have spent our years as a thought.
    10 The time of our life is threescore years and ten, and if they be of strength, fourscore years; yet their strength is but labor and sorrow, for it is cut off quickly, and we flee away.
    11 Who knoweth the power of thy wrath? For according to thy fear is thine anger.
    12 Teach us so to number our days that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom