Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: As You Like It (Modern)
  • Editor: David Bevington
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-369-4

    Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: David Bevington
    Peer Reviewed

    As You Like It (Modern)

    Enter Duke Senior, Amiens, and two or three Lords, like foresters.
    Duke Senior 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
    610More 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
    615Even 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,
    620Wears 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.
    Amiens I would not change it. Happy is Your Grace,
    625That can translate the stubbornness of fortune
    Into so quiet and so sweet a style.
    Duke Senior Come, shall we go and kill us venison?
    And yet it irks me the poor dappled fools,
    Being native burghers of this desert city,
    630Should in their own confines with forkèd heads
    Have their round haunches gored.
    First Lord
    Indeed, my lord,
    The melancholy Jaques grieves at that,
    And in that kind swears you do more usurp
    635Than doth your brother that hath banished you.
    Today my Lord of Amiens and myself
    Did steal behind him as he lay along
    Under an oak whose antique root peeps out
    Upon the brook that brawls along this wood,
    640To the which place a poor sequestered stag
    That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt
    Did come to languish. And indeed, my lord,
    The wretched animal heaved forth such groans
    That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
    645Almost to bursting, and the big round tears
    Coursed one another down his innocent nose
    In piteous chase. And thus the hairy fool,
    Much markèd of the melancholy Jaques,
    Stood on th'extremest verge of the swift brook,
    650Augmenting it with tears.
    Duke Senior
    But what said Jaques?
    Did he not moralize this spectacle?
    First Lord Oh, yes, into a thousand similes.
    First, for his weeping into the needless stream:
    655"Poor deer," quoth he, "thou mak'st a testament
    As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more
    To that which had too much." Then, being there alone,
    Left and abandoned of his velvet friends:
    "'Tis right," quoth he, "thus misery doth part
    660The flux of company." Anon, a careless herd,
    Full of the pasture, jumps along by him
    And never stays to greet him. "Ay," quoth Jaques,
    "Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens;
    'Tis just the fashion. Wherefore do you look
    665Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?"
    Thus most invectively he pierceth through
    The body of the country, city, court,
    Yea, and of this our life, swearing that we
    Are mere usurpers, tyrants, and what's worse,
    670To fright the animals and to kill them up
    In their assigned and native dwelling place.
    Duke Senior And did you leave him in this contemplation?
    Second Lord We did, my lord, weeping and commenting
    Upon the sobbing deer.
    675Duke Senior
    Show me the place.
    I love to cope him in these sullen fits,
    For then he's full of matter.
    First Lord I'll bring you to him straight.