Introduction: A Jewish Rabbi who lived in the 800s A.D. wrote an analogy between a man’s life stages and different animals. As a historical exercise I have tried to put his thought into this poem. The last paragraph, however, is not his thought, but is a final Buddhist spin I have added.
Prompt: Mary, at d’Verse Poets, challenges us to write on “The Ages of Man” – referring to a work of Shakespeare.
Background: All traditions (sacred and secular) have analogies for life’s stages. My poem is based on a life-stages model I found in a 9th century Jewish Midrash (exposition) of the book of Ecclesiastics by Solomon (“the preacher”) called “Kohelet Rabbah” (more links below).
I apologize for the male-centricism here, but both Shakespeare and the Midrash author lived in a man-centric world and wrote like that. Readers’ careful critical feedback is welcomed and desired.
Sources for translations of the Kohelet Rabbah:
- Observations on the Origin of the Division of Man’s Life Into Stages by John Winter Jones (1861). (the book) (google book extract)
- Tales and Maxims from the Midrash (1907): extracted and translated by Samuel Rapaport. (Sacred-Texts.com)
- The Cycle of Life: Themes and Tales of the Journey (2011). By Erel Shalit (the book)(google book extract)
Clip Art credits: