1 Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile, 2 Hath not old custom made this life more sweet 3 Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods 4 More free from peril than the envious court? 5 Here feel we but the penalty of Adam, 6 The seasons' difference, as the icy fang 7 And churlish chiding of the winter's wind, 8 Which, when it bites and blows upon my body, 9 Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say 10 'This is no flattery: these are counsellors 11 That feelingly persuade me what I am.' 12 Sweet are the uses of adversity, 13 Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, 14 Wears yet a precious jewel in his head; 15 And this our life exempt from public haunt 16 Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, 17 Sermons in stones and good in every thing. 18 I would not change it.
19 Happy is your grace, 20 That can translate the stubbornness of fortune 21 Into so quiet and so sweet a style.
22 Come, shall we go and kill us venison? 23 And yet it irks me the poor dappled fools, 24 Being native burghers of this desert city, 25 Should in their own confines with forked heads 26 Have their round haunches gored.
27 Indeed, my lord, 28 The melancholy Jaques grieves at that, 29 And, in that kind, swears you do more usurp 30 Than doth your brother that hath banish'd you. 31 To-day my Lord of Amiens and myself 32 Did steal behind him as he lay along 33 Under an oak whose antique root peeps out 34 Upon the brook that brawls along this wood: 35 To the which place a poor sequester'd stag, 36 That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt, 37 Did come to languish, and indeed, my lord, 38 The wretched animal heaved forth such groans 39 That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat 40 Almost to bursting, and the big round tears 41 Coursed one another down his innocent nose 42 In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool 43 Much marked of the melancholy Jaques, 44 Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook, 45 Augmenting it with tears.
46 But what said Jaques? 47 Did he not moralize this spectacle?
48 O, yes, into a thousand similes. 49 First, for his weeping into the needless stream; 50 'Poor deer,' quoth he, 'thou makest a testament 51 As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more 52 To that which had too much:' then, being there alone, 53 Left and abandon'd of his velvet friends, 54 ''Tis right:' quoth he; 'thus misery doth part 55 The flux of company:' anon a careless herd, 56 Full of the pasture, jumps along by him 57 And never stays to greet him; 'Ay' quoth Jaques, 58 'Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens; 59 'Tis just the fashion: wherefore do you look 60 Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?' 61 Thus most invectively he pierceth through 62 The body of the country, city, court, 63 Yea, and of this our life, swearing that we 64 Are mere usurpers, tyrants and what's worse, 65 To fright the animals and to kill them up 66 In their assign'd and native dwelling-place.
67 And did you leave him in this contemplation?
68 We did, my lord, weeping and commenting 69 Upon the sobbing deer.
70 Show me the place: 71 I love to cope him in these sullen fits, 72 For then he's full of matter.