As You Like It
Act 2, Scene 1
Enter DUKE SENIOR, AMIENS, and two or three LORDS, like foresters
DUKE SENIOR, AMIENS, and two or three LORDS enter, dressed like foresters.
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say,
“This is no flattery. These are counselors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.”
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head.
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
Now, my companions and brothers in exile, hasn’t experience made this simple life sweeter than a life of glittery pomp and circumstance? Aren’t these woods less perilous than the court, with all its jealousies and intrigues? Out here we feel the changing of the seasons, but we’re not bothered by it. When the icy fangs of the brutal, scolding wind bite and blow on my body, even though I’m shivering with cold, I can appreciate the weather’s honesty. I smile and think, “Thank goodness the wind doesn’t flatter me: it’s like a councilor who makes me feel what I’m really made of.” Adversity can have its benefits—like the ugly, poisonous toad that wears a precious jewel in its forehead. In this life, far away from the civilized world, we can hear the language of the trees, read the books of the running streams, hear sermons in the stones, and discover the good in every single thing.
I would not change it. Happy is your Grace,
That can translate the stubbornness of fortune
Into so quiet and so sweet a style.
I wouldn’t change my situation for anything. You’re lucky, my lord, to be able to see the peace and sweetness even in what bad luck has brought you.
Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
And yet it irks me the poor dappled fools,
Being native burghers of this desert city,
Should in their own confines with forkèd heads
Have their round haunches gored.
Come, shall we hunt some deer for dinner? It bothers me, though, that these poor spotted innocents, who, after all, are this deserted city’s native citizens, should be gouged with arrows.