Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
 
Ardennes
Ardennes
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 

DUKE.  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.        5
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 ace counsellors        10
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,        15
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
  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.        20
  DUKE.  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 forked heads
Have their round haunches gor’d.        25
  1 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 banish’d you.
To-day, my lord of Amiens and myself        30
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 sequester’d stag,
That from the hunter’s aim had ta’en a hurt,        35
Did come to languish: and, indeed, my lord,
The wretched animal heav’d forth such groans,
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting; and the big round tears
Cours’d one another down his innocent nose        40
In piteous chase; and thus the hairy fool,
Much marked of the melancholy Jaques,
Stood on the extremest verge of the swift brook,
Augmenting it with tears.
  DUKE.            But what said Jaques?        45
Did he not moralize this spectacle?
  1 LORD.  O 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        50
To that which had too much.” Then, being alone,
Left and abandon’d of his velvet friends;
“’T is right,” quoth he; “this misery doth part
The flux of company.” Anon, a careless herd,
Full of the pasture, jumps along by him,        55
And never stays to greet him: “Ay,” quoth Jaques,
“Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens;
’T is just the fashion: Wherefore do you look
Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?”
Thus most invectively he pierceth through        60
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 assign’d and native dwelling-place.        65
 
 
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