A line-by-line translation

As You Like It

As You Like It Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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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 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.

DUKE SENIOR

Now, my companions and brothers in exile, hasn't our long experience shown this simple life to be sweeter than one of superficial luxury? Aren't these woods less dangerous than the jealousies and treachery of the court? Out here we don't feel the penalty resulting from Adam's sin—the changing seasons. When the icy fangs of the scolding winter wind bite and blow upon my body—even though I shiver with cold—I smile and say to myself: "The wind isn't flattering me. It is like a counselor who makes me feel what I truly am." Adversity has sweet benefits, just like the ugly, venomous toad who wears a precious jewel in his forehead. And in this new life, far away from society, we can hear the voices of the trees, read books in the running brooks, hear sermons in the stones, and find the good in everything.

AMIENS

I would not change it. Happy is your Grace,That can translate the stubbornness of fortune Into so quiet and so sweet a style.

AMIENS

I wouldn't exchange it for anything. Your Grace, you are lucky to be able to translate your misfortune into such a quiet, happy lifestyle.

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, Should in their own confines with forkèd heads Have their round haunches gored.

DUKE SENIOR

Come, should we go and kill some deer for dinner? Although it bothers me that these poor spotted innocents—who are the native inhabitants of this uninhabited city—should be gored with arrowheads in their own home.

FIRST LORD

Indeed, my lord, The melancholy Jaques grieves at that, And in that kind swears you do more usurp Than 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, To 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 Almost 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, Augmenting it with tears.

FIRST LORD

Indeed, my lord, the melancholy Jaques grieves at the same thing, and he swears that when you hunt deer you are in fact a worse usurper than your brother who banished you. Today my Lord of Amiens and I snuck up behind Jaques as he lay under an oak tree, whose ancient roots peek out from the earth near the brook that babbles through this forest. A poor, lonely stag—who had been separated from his herd and hurt by a hunter's arrow—came to rest in that same place. And indeed, my lord, the wretched animal groaned so heavily that he seemed to stretch his leather hide almost to bursting, and big, round tears ran pitifully down his innocent nose. And so the hairy, pitiful creature—watched carefully by the melancholy Jaques—stood on the very edge of the swift brook and added his tears to its flow.

DUKE SENIOR

But what said Jaques?Did he not moralize this spectacle?

DUKE SENIOR

But what did Jaques say? Didn't he find some moral in this scene?

FIRST LORD

Oh, yes, into a thousand similes. First, for his weeping into the needless stream: “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 friend, “'Tis right,” quoth he. “Thus misery doth part The 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 Upon 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, To fright the animals and to kill them up In their assigned and native dwelling place.

FIRST LORD

Oh yes, he translated it into a thousand similes. First he spoke about the deer weeping needlessly into the stream's water. "Poor deer," he said, "you make your will and testament just like humans do, and leave what you have to something that already has too much." Then, about the deer being alone, abandoned by his velvety friends, he said: "It is right that misery should separate itself from company." Soon after a carefree herd of deer—their stomachs full of pasture grass—jumped past without stopping to greet the wounded stag. "Yes," said Jaques, "hurry on, you fat and citizens, ready to be hunted. This is just the way life is. Why should you stop and look at that poor, broken, bankrupt creature there?" In this way, with bitter criticism, he pierced the heart of the country, the city, the court, and even our lives here in the woods—swearing that we are only usurpers and tyrants, frightening and killing the animals in their own rightful dwelling places.

DUKE SENIOR

And did you leave him in this contemplation?

DUKE SENIOR

And did you leave him in this state of contemplation?

SECOND LORD

We did, my lord, weeping and commentingUpon the sobbing deer.

SECOND LORD

We did, my lord, as he wept and commented on the sobbing deer.

DUKE SENIOR

Show me the place.I love to cope him in these sullen fits,For then he’s full of matter.

DUKE SENIOR

Show me the place where this happened. I love to talk with him when he's in these melancholy moods, for then he's full of things to say.

FIRST LORD

I’ll bring you to him straight.

FIRST LORD

I'll bring you to him right away.

Exeunt

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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.