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As You Like It

ACT II  SCENE VThe Forest of Arden.
[Enter AMIENS, JAQUES, and others]
AMIENSUnder the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:5
Here shall he see No enemy
But winter and rough weather.
JAQUESMore, more, I prithee, more.
AMIENSIt will make you melancholy, Monsieur Jaques.
JAQUESI thank it. More, I prithee, more. I can suck
melancholy out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs.
More, I prithee, more.
AMIENSMy voice is ragged: I know I cannot please you.
JAQUESI do not desire you to please me; I do desire you to
sing. Come, more; another stanzo: call you ’em stanzos?17
AMIENSWhat you will, Monsieur Jaques.
JAQUESNay, I care not for their names; they owe me
nothing. Will you sing?
AMIENSMore at your request than to please myself.
JAQUESWell then, if ever I thank any man, I’ll thank you;
but that they call compliment is like the encounter
of two dog-apes, and when a man thanks me heartily,
methinks I have given him a penny and he renders me
the beggarly thanks. Come, sing; and you that will
not, hold your tongues.
AMIENSWell, I’ll end the song. Sirs, cover the while; the
duke will drink under this tree. He hath been all
this day to look you.30
JAQUESAnd I have been all this day to avoid him. He is
too disputable for my company: I think of as many
matters as he, but I give heaven thanks and make no
boast of them. Come, warble, come.
Who doth ambition shun
[All together here]
And loves to live i’ the sun,
Seeking the food he eats
And pleased with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither:
Here shall he see No enemy40
But winter and rough weather.
JAQUESI’ll give you a verse to this note that I made
yesterday in despite of my invention.
AMIENSAnd I’ll sing it.
JAQUESThus it goes:–
If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease,
A stubborn will to please,50
Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame:
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he,
An if he will come to me.
AMIENSWhat’s that ‘ducdame’?
JAQUES‘Tis a Greek invocation, to call fools into a
circle. I’ll go sleep, if I can; if I cannot, I’ll
rail against all the first-born of Egypt.58
AMIENSAnd I’ll go seek the duke: his banquet is prepared.
[Exeunt severally]

Next: As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 6

Explanatory notes for Act 2, Scene 5
From As You Like It. Ed. Samuel Thurber, Jr. and Louise Wetherbee. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1922.
(Line numbers have been altered.)

A tuneful interlude, important because we have our first glimpse of that creation of Shakespeare’s, the melancholy Jaques.

Line 1. greenwood ought at once to suggest Robin Hood and his merry men.

3. turn … throat: make it like a bird’s note.

6. Come hither: Amiens is evidently expressing the feeling which these loyal young followers of Duke Senior have for this life of theirs.

9. Jaques: Here he is — the one discordant note in this forest life. Do not forget how carefully Shakespeare has prepared us for him.

14. ragged: hoarse.

16. stanzo: This word about which Jaques pretends such ignorance, appears in the dictionary.

19. names: in law used as names of debts which are owed, which explains this rather bitter speech.

23. encounter … dog-apes: a picture of two monkeys bowing and scraping to each other with no more sincerity than the thanks of a beggar in line 26.

28. cover: spread the table. Picture the scene.

33. matters: subjects for thought.

44. in despite of: in defiance of. invention: imagination.

47. This song is, of course, a parody on the lyric of Amiens.

51. ducdame: pronounced in three syllables. This is a word of his own coining, probably not meant to be understood. In reading the last four lines, observe that they are to be accented like the last four of the song.

56. into a circle: Remember that they are in a circle as they sing and talk.

57. I’ll … Egypt: Perhaps Jaques means, in his sour fashion, to rail against Duke Senior, his master, whose fortunes, though he is a first born son, are so low.

59. banquet: dessert.