Didst thou hear these verses? | Text and analysis.
As You Like It| Act 3, Scene 2 | 150-230
Didst thou hear these verses?
Source RSC | Jonathan Bate & Eric Rasmussen. London: RSC Shakespeare, 2009
Didst thou hear these verses?
O, yes, I heard them all, and more too; for some of
them had in them more feet than the verses would bear.
That’s no matter: the feet might bear the verses.
Ay, but the feet were lame and could not bear
themselves without the verse and therefore stood
lamely in the verse.
But didst thou hear without wondering how thy name
should be hanged and carved upon these trees?
I was seven of the nine days out of the wonder
before you came; for look here what I found on a
palm-tree. I was never so be-rhymed since
Pythagoras’ time, that I was an Irish rat, which I
can hardly remember.
Trow you who hath done this?
Is it a man?
And a chain, that you once wore, about his neck.
Change you colour?
I prithee, who?
O Lord, Lord! it is a hard matter for friends to
meet; but mountains may be removed with earthquakes
and so encounter.
Nay, but who is it?
Is it possible?
Nay, I prithee now with most petitionary vehemence,
tell me who it is.
O wonderful, wonderful, and most wonderful
wonderful! and yet again wonderful, and after that,
out of all hooping!
Good my complexion! dost thou think, though I am
caparisoned like a man, I have a doublet and hose in
my disposition? One inch of delay more is a
South-sea of discovery; I prithee, tell me who is it
quickly, and speak apace. I would thou couldst
stammer, that thou mightst pour this concealed man
out of thy mouth, as wine comes out of a narrow-
mouthed bottle, either too much at once, or none at
all. I prithee, take the cork out of thy mouth that
may drink thy tidings.
So you may put a man in your belly.
Is he of God’s making? What manner of man? Is his
head worth a hat, or his chin worth a beard?
Nay, he hath but a little beard.
Why, God will send more, if the man will be
thankful: let me stay the growth of his beard, if
thou delay me not the knowledge of his chin.
It is young Orlando, that tripped up the wrestler’s
heels and your heart both in an instant.
Nay, but the devil take mocking: speak, sad brow and
I’ faith, coz, ’tis he.
Alas the day! what shall I do with my doublet and
hose? What did he when thou sawest him? What said
he? How looked he? Wherein went he? What makes
him here? Did he ask for me? Where remains he?
How parted he with thee? and when shalt thou see
him again? Answer me in one word.
You must borrow me Gargantua’s mouth first: ’tis a
word too great for any mouth of this age’s size. To
say ay and no to these particulars is more than to
answer in a catechism.
But doth he know that I am in this forest and in
man’s apparel? Looks he as freshly as he did the
day he wrestled?
It is as easy to count atomies as to resolve the
propositions of a lover; but take a taste of my
finding him, and relish it with good observance.
I found him under a tree, like a dropped acorn.
It may well be called Jove’s tree, when it drops
forth such fruit.
Give me audience, good madam.
There lay he, stretched along, like a wounded knight.
Though it be pity to see such a sight, it well
becomes the ground.
Cry ‘holla’ to thy tongue, I prithee; it curvets
unseasonably. He was furnished like a hunter.
O, ominous! he comes to kill my heart.
I would sing my song without a burden: thou bringest
me out of tune.
Do you not know I am a woman? when I think, I must
speak. Sweet, say on.
What studied torments, tyrant, hast for me?
What wheels? Racks? Fires? What flaying? Boiling?
In leads or oils? what old or newer torture
Must I receive, whose every word deserves
To taste of thy most worst? Thy tyranny,
Together working with thy jealousies–
Fancies too weak for boys, too green and idle
For girls of nine– O, think what they have done
And then run mad indeed, stark mad! for all
Thy by-gone fooleries were but spices of it.
That thou betray’dst Polixenes,’twas nothing:
That did but show thee, of a fool, inconstant
And damnable ingrateful. Nor was’t much,
Thou wouldst have poison’d good Camillo’s honour,
To have him kill a king. Poor trespasses.
More monstrous standing by: whereof I reckon
The casting forth to crows thy baby-daughter
To be or none or little; though a devil
Would have shed water out of fire ere done’t.
Nor is’t directly laid to thee, the death
Of the young prince, whose honourable thoughts–
Thoughts high for one so tender– cleft the heart
That could conceive a gross and foolish sire
Blemish’d his gracious dam: this is not, no,
Laid to thy answer. But the last,–O, lords,
When I have said, cry ‘woe!’ The queen, the queen,
The sweet’st, dear’st creature’s dead, and vengeance for’t
Not dropp’d down yet.