Act II - Act II, Scene 5

SCENE V. Another part of the Forest.

[Enter AMIENS, JAQUES, and others.]

AMIENS.
SONG
Under 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;
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

JAQUES.
More, more, I pr'ythee, more.

AMIENS.
It will make you melancholy, Monsieur Jaques.

JAQUES.
I thank it. More, I pr'ythee, more. I can suck melancholy
out of a song, as a weasel sucks eggs. More, I pr'ythee, more.

AMIENS.
My voice is ragged; I know I cannot please you.

JAQUES.
I do not desire you to please me; I do desire you to sing.
Come, more: another stanza. Call you them stanzas?

AMIENS.
What you will, Monsieur Jaques.

JAQUES.
Nay, I care not for their names; they owe me nothing.
Will you sing?

AMIENS.
More at your request than to please myself.

JAQUES.
Well 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 have given him a
penny, and he renders me the beggarly thanks. Come, sing; and
you that will not, hold your tongues.

AMIENS.
Well, 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.

JAQUES.
And 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.

SONG
[All together here.]
Who doth ambition shun,
And loves to live i' the sun,
Seeking the food he eats,
And pleas'd with what he gets,
Come hither, come hither, come hither.
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

JAQUES.
I'll give you a verse to this note that I made
yesterday in despite of my invention.

AMIENS.
And I'll sing it.

JAQUES.
Thus it goes:

If it do come to pass
That any man turn ass,
Leaving his wealth and ease
A stubborn will to please,
Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame;
Here shall he see
Gross fools as he,
An if he will come to me.

AMIENS.
What'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.

AMIENS.
And I'll go seek the duke; his banquet is prepared.

[Exeunt severally.]

Footnotes

  1. This is an allusion to the Book of Exodus from the Bible. In it, the Pharaoh is threatened by 10 plagues unless he lets the imprisoned Israelites go. The last of the plagues is the death of the first-born son. First born refers to Duke Frederick, the elder of the two brothers.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  2. Here, Jaques means that “ducdame” is an invented word that only fools would try to parse. It “draws fools into a circle” because fools would sit around discussing what it meant rather than recognizing that it was gibberish.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  3. While Amiens sings a romanticized song about being exiled to the forest, Jacques’ verse is a cynical take on the pastoral song. He imports realism into the pastoral trope and mocks the tradition of the pastoral. While the pastoral attempted to create an edenic paradise within nature, the reality of the countryside, and these characters’ place within it, was much less ideal. Jaques uses his pastoral song to challenge the idea that these nobles are better off in Arden away from the city.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  4. The pastoral song generally appeared when it was thematically apt and disappeared after it had run its course, much like a song in a musical. However, here Jaques interrupts this trend to demand the player keep singing. Jaques leverages his social power to force Amiens to perform the pastoral; in essence, he ruins the pastoral by bringing his urban perspective into the forest space.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  5. Pastoral songs are a motif of pastoral literature. They generally took the form of folk songs performed with flutes or lutes, and used simplistic images to paint an idyllic scene. The harmonies of the song underscored the harmony thought to exist in the pastoral landscape, while the presence of singing within a story represented the carefree life of those who had the time and space to sing.

    — Caitlin, Owl Eyes Staff
  6. Jaques’ cryptic song mentions a man “turn[ing] ass,/Leaving his wealth and ease.” The image of a man turning into an ass alludes to King Midas, a figure in Greek mythology. After being given the ability to turn anything to gold with his touch, Midas renounced his wealth and became a disciple of Pan, the nature god. When asked to judge a musical competition between Apollo and Pan, Midas selected Pan as the victor. In a rage, Apollo gave Midas donkey’s ears. It is unclear precisely why Jaques evokes Midas, though the story does include multiple parallels. The musical competition in the Midas story mirrors the song competition between Jaques and Amiens. Midas’s choice to renounce worldly goods and become a disciple of nature mirrors Jaques’s character, devoted as he is to the natural world.

    — Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
  7. A scholar has recently speculated that the phrase might be a combination of *Duke *and Dame, Jacques' sarcastic way of reminding Duke Senior that he gave up his kingdom like a woman, that is, without a fight.  This may be Jacques' way of expressing his displeasure at having to rough it in the forest instead of living comfortably at court (had the Duke fought for his kingdom).

    This is a reasonable interpretation given the beginning of Jacques' speech in which he chides the Duke for "leaving his wealth and ease/A stubborn will to please."

    — Stephen Holliday
  8. In the play, the word is stanzo, not stanza.  Jacques is most likely pretending not to know the correct word.

    — Stephen Holliday
  9. This is a visual joke. When Jacques sings, "Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame," all the other men gather around him in a circle, drawn by curiosity. So Jacques is saying that they are a bunch of fools and he has called them into a circle with his strange word. "Ducdame" should be pronounced as three syllables (whatever it may mean, if anything).

    — William Delaney
  10. In Exodus 12, God caused the death of the first born of all the Egyptian children after the Pharaoh would not free the Hebrews.  If Jaques is saying, like God, he would denounce first born sons, he is implying that he would include Duke Senior. 

    — Jamie Wheeler
  11. The meaning of "ducdame" remains elusive. Scholars speculate that the origins of the word are Welsh, meaning "come hither." However, other scholars contend that it is a gypsy phrase which means, "I foretell." 

    — Jamie Wheeler
  12. A pun on the legal term "names" as the "signature or borrowers."

    — Jamie Wheeler
  13. Jacques is most likely referring to baboons, which look very dog-like.

    — Jamie Wheeler