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Seven Ages cover art

Seven Ages

By: William Shakespeare,Emily Dickinson,Ted Hughes
Narrated by: Ralph Fiennes,Dame Judi Dench
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This highly entertaining anthology of verse is the comic, tragic, tender, and telling story of life's seven ages, from childhood to old age. Within the framework of Shakespeare's speech, "The Seven Ages of Man," performed by Sir Ian McKellen, are 150 great poems from all ages, from Chaucer to Emily Dickinson to Walt Whitman and many others. The poem are presented by the finest cast ever assembled on one recording and includes Ralph Fiennes, Dame Judi Dench, John Cleese, Michael Caine, and more.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©1998 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd. (P)1998 NAXOS AudioBooks Ltd.

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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Poetry Not Much Music.

I bought this on this on a whim. Expecting to hate it and have to send it back, but I so enjoyed it. I was disappointed when it was over.

I have to confess that I do not normally listen to poetry, but this is so well read, by great actresses and actors. There is a mix of all the well-known poems and many that I had not heard of. But none of them were too long, some were funny and some sad. A real pick and mix. Something in here for everyone, whether like me you never listen to poetry, or whether you regularly listen to poetry.

There was very little music though - so be warned.


9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A major trip

A major trip down memory lane, particularly when one has exceeded three score years and ten.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The human experience in verse

A very sombre, atmospheric experience sprinkled with genuine triumph and joy. The actual selection and performances are great - look at the cast (!), but one has to be in the right mood in order to get the most out of listening.

1 person found this helpful

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Profile Image for ESK
  • ESK
  • 26-12-12

The Anthology of 'Music-Makers'

Poetic delight. Lyric ecstasy. Personally, it's the best collection of poems ever. Should you have any doubts about that, look at the list of poems and the narrators.
(Part I/Disc I)
1. Autumn from 4 Seasons/Capella Istropiltana - Stephen Gunzenhauser (conductor)
2. Shakespeare, Seven Ages from As You Like It, Act II Scene VII - Sir Ian McKellen
3. A Fancy - The Rose Consort Of Viols
4. Shakespeare, From All the world's a stage: Infant (excerpt) - Sir Ian McKellen
5. Thom Gunn, Baby Song - Catherine McCormack
6. Ann Stevenson, The Victory - Richard Jackson
7. Emily Dickinson, Surgeons - Gayle Hunnicutt
8. Shakespeare, Fancy from Merchant of Venice, Act III Scene 2 - Mark Rylance
9. Ogden Nash, Guppy - Prunella Scales
10. Edward Lear, Quangle Wangle's Hat - Connie Booth
11. Thomas Hood, I Remember, I Remember - Ralph Fiennes
12. William Allingham, The Fairies - Juliet Stevenson
13. Thomas Hood, A Parental Ode - Ralph Fiennes
14. Robert L. Stevenson, My Shadow - Stella Gonet
15. Edward Lear, The Owl and the Pussy Cat - John Cleese
16. A. A. Milne, Sneezles - Andrew Sachs
17. Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter - Joss Ackland w/ Peter Bayliss
18. Ted Hughes, Jellyfish - Leo Sayer
19. G.K. Chesterton, The Donkey - Emma Fielding
20. Anonymous (or Christopher Isherwood?), The Common Cormorant - Andrew Sachs
21. R.L. Stevenson, Where Go the Boats - Stella Gonet
22. Ted Hughes, Crab - Leo Sayer
23. A.A. Milne, The End - Catherine McCormack
24. Midsummer Nights Dream (Uphill Down Dale) - Barry Wordsworth (conductor)
25. Shakespeare, From All the world's a stage: School - Sir Ian McKellen
26. R.L. Stevenson, To Any Reader - John Sessions
27. Dylan Thomas, Under Milk Wood - Ioan Gruffudd
28. Vernon Watkins, The Collier - Ioan Gruffudd
29. Shel Silverstein, Sick - Catherine McCormack
30. John Whitworth, Boring - John Cleese
31. John Whittier, From The Barefoot Boy - Jenny Agutter
32. Full Fathom Five from Tempest, Act I Scene 2 - Dame Glenda Jackson
33. Oscar Wilde, Rosa Mystica - Michael Williams
34. Rudyard Kipling, A Smuggler's Song - Michael Caine
35 C. Day Lewis, Walking Away - Timothy West
36 Hilaire Belloc, Tarantella - Terence Stamp
37 T.S. Eliot, Macavity - David Suchet
38 Rudyard Kipling, If - Michael Caine
39 Shakespeare, From Hamlet: This Above All - Michael Maloney
40. M. George Whitehead and His Almand - performed by Rose Consort Of Viols
41. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Lover - Sir Ian McKellen
42. W.B. Yeats, The Arrow - Art Malisk
43. H.W. Longfellow, The Arrow and the Song - HRH The Duchess Of Kent
44. Rabindranath Tagore, They Who Are Near to Me - Art Malik
45. Christina Rossetti, The First Day - Felicity Kendal
46. T.L. Beddoes, From The Song of Torrismond - Janet Suzman
47. R.S. Bridges, My Delight and Thy Delight - Ralph Fiennes
48. E.B. Browning, Sonnet 43 - Hannah Gordon
49. R. Kipling, The Virginity - Terence Stamp
50. P.B. Shelley, The Longest Journey - Samuel West
51. Anonymous, We Have Known Treasure - Charles Dance
52. Shakespeare, Sonnet 138 - Robert Lindsay
53. C. Rossetti, Echo - Dame Glenda Jackson
54. R. Tagore, Delusions I Did Cherish - Art Malik
55. Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 - Dame Glenda Jackson
56. A. E. Housman, When I Was One-And-Twenty - Pete Postlethwaite
57. W. B. Yeats, The Mermaid - Juliet Stevenson
58. Robert Herrick, Upon the Nipples of Julia's Breast - Terence Stamp
59. Robert Burns, My Love Is Like a Red, Red Rose - John Sessions
60. Shakespeare, Sonnet 116 - Robert Lindsay
61. D. H. Lawrence, New Year's Eve - Michael Maloney
62. D. H. Lawrence, Green - Michael Maloney
63. John Keats, A Thing of Beauty Is a Joy Forever - Mark Rylance

(Part II/Disc II)
1. Stravinsky: A Soldier's Tale - Nicholas Ward (conductor)
2. Shakespeare, From All the world's a stage: Soldier - Sir Ian McKellen
3. Shakespeare, Prologue from King Henry 5 - Mark Rylance
4. Julian Grenfell, Into Battle - Juliet Stevenson
5. W. B. Yeats, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death - William Houston
6. James Russell Lowell, Once to Every Man and Nation - Dame Judi Dench
7. Seamus Heaney, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing - William Houston
8. John McCrea, In Flanders Fields - Robert Powell
9. Vera Brittain, Perhaps - Dame Judi Dench
10. Wilfred Owen, Anthem for Doomed Youth - Robert Powell
11. Wilfred Owen, Dulce at Decorum Est / Lord Owen
12. Eva Dobell, Pluck - Felicity Kendal
13. W. H. Auden, From In Memory of W.B. Yeats - Art Malik
14. John Jarmain, At a War Grave - Michael Malony
15. John Jarmain, El Alamein - Michael Malony
16. Ruth Fainlight, Handbag - Prunella Scales
17. Elsie Cawser , Salvage Song - Michael Maloney
18. Rudyard Kipling, England - Michael Caine
19. Matthew Arnold, Dover Beach - Michael Williams
20. Dan Pagis, Written With a Pencil in a Sealed Wagon - Janet Suzman
21. John Donne, No Man Is an Island - Ed Bishop
22. Luis de Narvaez: Fantasia - Shirley Rumsey
23. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Wisdom - Sir Ian McKellen
24. Shakespeare, The Quality of Mercy from Merchant of Venice, Act IV Scene 1 - Ralph Fiennes
25. John Boyle O’Reilly , What Is Good - Dame Judi Dench
26. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass - Art Malik
27. Anonymous, Addendum to the Ten Commandments - Michael Caine
28. Geoffrey Chaucer, From The Canterbury Tales: A Student - Emma Fielding
29. James Leigh Hunt, Abou Ben Adhem - Robert Powell
30. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Song of Hiawatha (excerpt) - Clarke Peters
31. William Wordsworth, My Heart Leaps Up - Robert Hardy
32. William Blake, Auguries of Innocence - Timothy West
33. William Blake, The Tyger - Timothy West
34. Emily Dickinson, Of All Souls That Stand Create - Gayle Hunnicutt
35. Percy Bysshe Shelley, Chorus of Spirits - Prunella Scales
36. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Kubla Khan - Pete Postlethwaite
37. Robert Burns, A Man's a Man for A' That - John Sessions
38. Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken - John Cleese
39. Anonymous, The Bleed'n' Sparrer - Michael Caine
40. The King of Denmark's Galiard performed by the Rose Consort of Viols
41. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Sixth Age - Sir Ian McKellen
42. W. B. Yeats, Politics - Michael Caine
43. Ogden Nash, Peekaboo, I Almost See You - David Suchet
44. Ogden Nash, Samson Agonistes - David Suchet
45. John Masefield , Sea Fever - Terence Stamp
46. Emily Dickinson, Exultation - Gayle Hunnicutt
47. Morris Bishop, We Have Been Here Before - Charles Dance
48. Alfred, Lord Tennyson From The Brook - Janet Suzman
49. William Wordsworth, Upon Westminster Bridge - Robert Hardy
50. J. Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, A Song of a Young Lady to Her Ancient Lover - Janet Suzman
51. Robert Burns, John Anderson, My Jo - Stella Gonet
52. Stanley J. Sharples, In Praise of Cocoa, Cupid's Nightcap - Emma Fielding
53. Rudyard Kipling, The Way Through the Woods - Art Malik
54. Christina Rossetti, From Uphill - HRH The Duchess Of Kent
55. Shakespeare, From All the World's a Stage: Last Scene - Sir Ian McKellen
56. Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night - Ioan Gruffudd
57. Christina Rossetti, Song - Jenny Agutter
58. Leo Marks, Code Poem for the French Resistance - Ralph Fiennes
59. Emily Dickinson, This World Is Not Conclusion - Gayle Hunnicutt
60. Robert Louis Stevenson, Requiem - John Sessions
61. Christina Rossetti, Sleeping at Last - Dame Judi Dench
62. Shakespeare, Fear No More from Cymbeline, Act IV Scene 2 - Sir Ian McKellen
63. John Banister Tabb, Evolution/Autumn from Four Seasons (Reprise) - Mark Rylance

90 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Crystal
  • Crystal
  • 19-09-03

Wonderful Readings

I really loved this disc, which was originally recorded as a tribute to the life of Princess Di. The readings are incredible, and my favorite was John Cleese's reading of Owl & The Pussycat. The poetry selections are perfect to follow the line of Shakespeare's ages of man and the readers were wonderfully chosen. High recommend.

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Luzia
  • Luzia
  • 01-03-13

Nice but hard to handle

It is really hard to go back to a specific poem with no index. It lessens the enjoyability since you have to guess if you want to go back to the beginning of a poem.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for U. D.
  • U. D.
  • 13-09-14

Whispersync for Voice book:

Any additional comments?

I wish there was a Whispersync for Voice book so than it would be possible to read and listen to the poems in the same time.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Jill
  • Jill
  • 13-07-12

A literary delight

I'd just like to note that there is no real story: this compilation takes us through the seven ages of man as defined in a famous speech in Shakespeare's comedy "As You Like It". The recording includes many old favourites of mine, but has also introduced me to others that have instantly appealed. Some are beautiful and/or thought-provoking; others are just downright hilarious (e.g. Ogden Nash's "Peekaboo"). Most of the readers are excellent; there are only two or three tracks where I found the recitation irritating. I want particularly to mention Michael Caine, not usually known for his poetry readings: here he reads the classic "If" (Kipling) with complete conviction and seriousness and then goes on to give us the cheeky "The b---in' Sparrer". Superb, too, are Ioann Gruffudd's readings of Welsh poetry. My only beef if that, while each narrator gives the name of the poem and its author before each reading, there is no written list available to the purchaser of the recording, nor any indication of who is reading what. You can try to enlarge the cover photograph, but several people read more than one poem and not all the voices are easily identifiable. Maybe a lot of people don't care about that, but I enjoy knowing who each narrator is. Anyway, highly recommended: I'll be listening to this more than once.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Paul
  • 24-07-11

Excellent Collection!

This is a wonderful collection of poetry about the stages of life and death. Many of the poems are classics, but some are unfamiliar. They are all read by different narrators who use expression and skill. Highly recommended for anyone looking for some good soul moving poetry.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M
  • 04-07-13

I'd never understood poetry's appeal...until now!

I bought this primarily for my Mom, who is great poetry lover, so she could listen to it in my car during long trips. I thought it would be short enough that I wouldn't be bored...I have never cared for poetry, or so I thought.

What a complete surprise....this is an absolutely outstanding piece of work!

I listened to it all in one sitting...I couldn't turn it off. I laughed, and I wept....and all of it made me think. This is a wonderful collection. I was so stunned at the depth of emotion I experienced listening it that I had to write this review immediately to inform other like-minded individuals of what they've been missing.

I was vaguely familiar with some of the poems, but I never quite understood them when reading them in print. What a difference HEARING them has made to my perspective! Listening to Michael Caine, and Judi Dench, and Ralph Fiennes and all of the others was a real pleasure. The emotions conjured up by these virtuoso readers has really opened my eyes to how powerful poetry can be. The order that they were presented was very appealing as well, starting with poems about birth and childhood, through those about romantic love and war and middle age, to those about old age and death. And managing to end such a collection on a hopeful note was truly inspiring. I just loved it!

I may never attempt to READ poetry again, but I fully expect that I will LISTEN to this collection many times in the future.

I'd like to express my thanks to another reviewer, ESK from Russia, for taking the time to list all of the poems, their authors and the name of the readers. Very helpful.

This is a treat to the soul....HIGHLY recommended.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for F. S. Lim
  • F. S. Lim
  • 04-04-13

Performance vary; Organization could be better

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

Performance vary by narrator. Some are good (e.g. Ian Mckellen) while some are unexpectedly disappointing.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, this is a book that you want to absorb in stages.

Any additional comments?

I wish there's an option to replay a specific section over and over again or to skip to a specific poem. What I ended up doing was making separate notes at the beginning of each poem so that I could skip to that part.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Anniebligh
  • 30-12-12


I was really not expecting so many favouites so well read.

Some not read or heard in many years.

Even if you are not so interested in the Seven Ages aspect, this is a very good selection.

Thanks reviewer 'ESK' , for the list.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Walter
  • Walter
  • 10-02-12

Music for the Ears and the Soul

Some of the best of English and American poetry, read by some of the outstanding actors of our time. I especially loved Ian McKellan, Michael Caine and above all John Cleese - his renditions of "The Owl and the Pussycat" and especially "The Road Not Taken" (at 2:04:47) alone make this a worthwhile purchase. My only complaint is that one or two of the poems have special effects (an echo) which are not needed, and distract from what would otherwise be excellent readings.

4 people found this helpful