All the World’s a Stage: an unfinished chiasmus poem

Set for the Babes n the Wood, Lincoln Theatre | Scenery painted by Lesley Scoble
Larry’s prompt for the W3 Weekly prompt is to write a poem that incorporates chiasmus.
Examples of Chiasmus:
  • In the pre-capitalist stages of society, commerce rules industry. In capitalist society, industry rules commerce.
  • Live simply so that others might simply live.
  • Love as if you would one day hate, and hate as if you would one day love.
  • Bad men live that they may eat and drink, whereas good men eat and drink that they may live.
  • All for one and one for all!

Last week I missed the W3 Poetry Prompt deadline by 13 minutes.. This week I am in danger of missing it again. Andrew and I have spent the day driving to the sea. We are escaping from the busy city for a week’s break. I don’t think there is time for me to complete a chiasmus poem. Do I miss another deadline?

If you are reading this it means I have published an unfinished poem. Oh dear.

Schubert had an unfinished symphony. I have an unfinished poem.

I present to you Scoble’s unfinished symphony! Oops, I mean, unfinished poem! I am trying to write poetry and would like to ask for help. I am in awe at the speed that some poets can publish the most amazing poetry! — Would you like to finish my chiasmus poem? It’s a cheek, I know. My poem is unfinished! Please finish it for me. I don’t have the time to finish it before the deadline. I think it needs another chiasmus to end it with…

Here is the start of the first draft of my chiasmus poem… ‘All the World’s a Stage, and all the Stage’s a World.’

All the World’s a Stage

All the world’s a stage,
And the stage is a world
the entrances and exits
In peace and in rage

The ins and outs
the ons and the offs
The stage lefts, stage rights
The whispers the shouts
The Comedy 
first nights

The book,
 the scripts 
The dancer who trips
The diva who sings
Waiting with nerves
In the wings.
There is also of course,
A major factor— 
called the actor?
The flops and the hits
Reviews and plaudits
Ups and the downs
Laughs and frowns
The music
(musical director)

The smell of the greasepaint 
The roar of the crowds
The villainous boos 
And cheering out loud.

The highs and the lows
Opening shows
Then closing them down
The smiles and the tears
The start of the shows
The intervals
The finales
the scenery backcloths 
and crew

What do we do?
It for?
For wealth?
For fame?
Whatever the cause—
Whatever the game—
Whatever the force—
What is the feeling?
Why, darling!

For the sound of Applause!
Of course.

L. S. November 2022

This poem is unfinished. There is so much more to write about the world of the Stage! I should also like it to end with a chiasmus! Can you finish it for me?

My thanks to Larry Trasciatti for coming up with this chiasmus of a prompt, prompt of a chiasmus! My thanks also to David Ben Alexander for his W3 Prompt poetic initiative.

I have worked in the theatre most of my life as an actor, dancer, TV illustrator and animator, also as a scenic artist. I found this old picture of me painting a backcloth for a production.

Me painting a backcloth at the Theatre Royal, Lincoln


  1. I think this is great, Lesley. If you hadn’t written that it’s unfinished, I wouldn’t have thought so.

    Maybe something with life is an act, or we live to act, and then act to live or the act of life?


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