Measure for Measure "Thou Hast Nor Youth, Nor Age"
by William Shakespeare

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"Thou Hast Nor Youth, Nor Age"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: When Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, to tighten the laws of his loose city, turns the reins of the government over to the stern Angelo and the wise Escalus, the first victim of the new stringency is Claudio, who has begot a child upon his fiancée, Juliet. Condemned to death although he would have married his betrothed except for a difficulty of form, Claudio sends for help from his sister Isabella, who, in her pleading before Angelo, catches the eye of the stern judge. Meanwhile, Vincentio, disguised as Friar Lodowick, to observe the implementation of his orders, learns of Claudio's plight and seeks to prepare the young man for whatever may come. In an indirect apostrophe, he comments to Claudio on the burden of life.

. . . Reason thus with life:
If I do lose thee, I do lose a thing
That none but fools would keep;
. . .
Thou hast nor youth, nor age,
But as it were an after-dinner's sleep,
Dreaming on both, for all thy blessed youth
Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
Of palsied eld; and when thou art old, and rich,
Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
To make thy riches pleasant. . . .