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 Rosalind and Celia.
    How say you now? Is it not past two o'clock? And here much Orlando!
    I warrant you, with pure love and troubled brain
    Enter Silvius [with a letter].
    he hath ta'en his bow and arrows and is gone forth -- to sleep. Look who comes here.
    [To Rosalind]
    My errand is to you, fair youth.
    2155My gentle Phoebe did bid me give you this.
    [He gives the letter.]
    I know not the contents, but, as I guess,
    By the stern brow and waspish action
    Which she did use as she was writing of it,
    It bears an angry tenor. Pardon me,
    2160I am but as a guiltless messenger.
    [Examining the letter]
    Patience herself would startle at this letter
    And play the swaggerer. Bear this, bear all!
    She says I am not fair, that I lack manners;
    She calls me proud, and that she could not love me
    2165Were man as rare as Phoenix. 'Od's my will!
    Her love is not the hare that I do hunt.
    Why writes she so to me? Well, shepherd, well,
    This is a letter of your own device.
    No, I protest, I know not the contents.
    2170Phoebe did write it.
    Come, come, you are a fool,
    And turned into the extremity of love.
    I saw her hand; she has a leathern hand,
    A freestone-colored hand. I verily did think
    2175That her old gloves were on, but 'twas her hands;
    She has a huswife's hand -- but that's no matter.
    I say she never did invent this letter;
    This is a man's invention, and his hand.
    Sure it is hers.
    Why, 'tis a boisterous and a cruel style,
    A style for challengers. Why, she defies me,
    Like Turk to Christian. Women's gentle brain
    Could not drop forth such giant-rude invention,
    Such Ethiop words, blacker in their effect
    2185Than in their countenance. Will you hear the letter?
    So please you, for I never heard it yet;
    Yet heard too much of Phoebe's cruelty.
    She Phoebes me. Mark how the tyrant writes.
    "Art thou god to shepherd turned,
    2190That a maiden's heart hath burned?"
    Can a woman rail thus?
    Call you this railing?
    "Why, thy godhead laid apart,
    Warr'st thou with a woman's heart?"
    2195Did you ever hear such railing?
    "Whiles the eye of man did woo me,
    That could do no vengeance to me."
    Meaning me a beast.
    "If the scorn of your bright eyne
    2200Have power to raise such love in mine,
    Alack, in me what strange effect
    Would they work in mild aspect!
    Whiles you chid me, I did love;
    How then might your prayers move!
    2205He that brings this love to thee
    Little knows this love in me;
    And by him seal up thy mind,
    Whether that thy youth and kind
    Will the faithful offer take
    2210Of me and all that I can make;
    Or else by him my love deny,
    And then I'll study how to die."
    Call you this chiding?
    Alas, poor shepherd!
    Do you pity him? No, he deserves no pity. Wilt thou love such a woman? What, to make thee an instrument, and play false strains upon thee! Not to be endured! Well, go your way to her, for I see love hath made thee a tame snake, and say this to her: that if she 2220love me, I charge her to love thee; if she will not, I will never have her unless thou entreat for her. If you be a true lover, hence, and not a word; for here comes more company.
    Exit Silvius.
    Enter Oliver.
    Good morrow, fair ones. Pray you, if you know,
    Where in the purlieus of this forest stands
    A sheepcote fenced about with olive trees?
    West of this place, down in the neighbor bottom,
    The rank of osiers by the murmuring stream
    2230Left on your right hand brings you to the place.
    But at this hour the house doth keep itself;
    There's none within.
    If that an eye may profit by a tongue,
    Then should I know you by description,
    2235Such garments, and such years: "The boy is fair,
    Of female favor, and bestows himself
    Like a ripe sister; the woman, low
    And browner than her brother." Are not you
    The owner of the house I did inquire for?
    It is no boast, being asked, to say we are.
    Orlando doth commend him to you both,
    And to that youth he calls his Rosalind
    He sends this bloody napkin. Are you he?
    [He produces a bloody handkerchief.]
    I am. What must we understand by this?
    Some of my shame, if you will know of me
    What man I am, and how, and why, and where
    This handkerchief was stained.
    I pray you, tell it.
    When last the young Orlando parted from you,
    2250He left a promise to return again
    Within an hour; and, pacing through the forest,
    Chewing the food of sweet and bitter fancy,
    Lo, what befell! He threw his eye aside,
    And mark what object did present itself.
    2255Under an old oak, whose boughs were mossed with age
    And high top bald with dry antiquity,
    A wretched ragged man, o'ergrown with hair,
    Lay sleeping on his back. About his neck
    A green and gilded snake had wreathed itself,
    2260Who with her head, nimble in threats, approached
    The opening of his mouth; but suddenly,
    Seeing Orlando, it unlinked itself
    And with indented glides did slip away
    Into a bush, under which bush's shade
    2265A lioness, with udders all drawn dry,
    Lay couching, head on ground, with catlike watch,
    When that the sleeping man should stir; for 'tis
    The royal disposition of that beast
    To prey on nothing that doth seem as dead.
    2270This seen, Orlando did approach the man,
    And found it was his brother, his elder brother.
    Oh, I have heard him speak of that same brother,
    And he did render him the most unnatural
    That lived amongst men.
    And well he might so do,
    For well I know he was unnatural.
    But to Orlando: did he leave him there,
    Food to the sucked and hungry lioness?
    Twice did he turn his back, and purposed so;
    2280But kindness, nobler ever than revenge,
    And nature, stronger than his just occasion,
    Made him give battle to the lioness,
    Who quickly fell before him; in which hurtling
    From miserable slumber I awaked.
    Are you his brother?
    Was't you he rescued?
    Was't you that did so oft contrive to kill him?
    'Twas I; but 'tis not I. I do not shame
    To tell you what I was, since my conversion
    2290So sweetly tastes, being the thing I am.
    But for the bloody napkin?
    By and by.
    When from the first to last, betwixt us two,
    Tears our recountments had most kindly bathed,
    2295As how I came into that desert place,
    In brief, he led me to the gentle Duke,
    Who gave me fresh array and entertainment,
    Committing me unto my brother's love;
    Who led me instantly unto his cave,
    2300There stripped himself, and here upon his arm
    The lioness had torn some flesh away,
    Which all this while had bled; and now he fainted,
    And cried, in fainting, upon Rosalind.
    Brief, I recovered him, bound up his wound,
    2305And after some small space, being strong at heart,
    He sent me hither, stranger as I am,
    To tell this story, that you might excuse
    His broken promise, and to give this napkin,
    Dyed in this blood, unto the shepherd youth
    2310That he in sport doth call his Rosalind.
    [Rosalind swoons.]
    Why, how now, Ganymede, sweet Ganymede!
    Many will swoon when they do look on blood.
    There is more in it. -- Cousin Ganymede!
    Look, he recovers.
    I would I were at home.
    We'll lead you thither. --
    I pray you, will you take him by the arm?
    [They help Rosalind up.]
    Be of good cheer, youth. You a man? You lack a man's heart.
    I do so, I confess it. Ah, sirrah, a body would think this was well counterfeited. I pray you tell your brother how well I counterfeited. Heigh-ho!
    This was not counterfeit. There is too great testimony 2325in your complexion that it was a passion of earnest.
    Counterfeit, I assure you.
    Well then, take a good heart and counterfeit to be a man.
    So I do; but, i'faith, I should have been a woman by right.
    Come, you look paler and paler. Pray you, draw homewards. -- Good sir, go with us.
    That will I, for I must bear answer back
    2335How you excuse my brother, Rosalind.
    I shall devise something. But, I pray you, commend my counterfeiting to him. Will you go?