Act III - Act III, Scene 5

SCENE V. Another part of the Forest.

[Enter SILVIUS and PHEBE.]

Sweet Phebe, do not scorn me; do not, Phebe:
Say that you love me not; but say not so
In bitterness. The common executioner,
Whose heart the accustom'd sight of death makes hard,
Falls not the axe upon the humbled neck
But first begs pardon. Will you sterner be
Than he that dies and lives by bloody drops?

[Enter ROSALIND, CELIA, and CORIN, at a distance.]

I would not be thy executioner:
I fly thee, for I would not injure thee.
Thou tell'st me there is murder in mine eye:
'Tis pretty, sure, and very probable,
That eyes,--that are the frail'st and softest things,
Who shut their coward gates on atomies,--
Should be called tyrants, butchers, murderers!
Now I do frown on thee with all my heart;
And if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee:
Now counterfeit to swoon; why, now fall down;
Or, if thou canst not, O, for shame, for shame,
Lie not, to say mine eyes are murderers.
Now show the wound mine eye hath made in thee:
Scratch thee but with a pin, and there remains
Some scar of it; lean upon a rush,
The cicatrice and capable impressure
Thy palm some moment keeps; but now mine eyes,
Which I have darted at thee, hurt thee not;
Nor, I am sure, there is not force in eyes
That can do hurt.

O dear Phebe,
If ever,--as that ever may be near,--
You meet in some fresh cheek the power of fancy,
Then shall you know the wounds invisible
That love's keen arrows make.

But till that time
Come not thou near me; and when that time comes
Afflict me with thy mocks, pity me not;
As till that time I shall not pity thee.

[Advancing] And why, I pray you? Who might be your mother,
That you insult, exult, and all at once,
Over the wretched? What though you have no beauty,--
As, by my faith, I see no more in you
Than without candle may go dark to bed,--
Must you be therefore proud and pitiless?
Why, what means this? Why do you look on me?
I see no more in you than in the ordinary
Of nature's sale-work:--Od's my little life,
I think she means to tangle my eyes too!--
No, faith, proud mistress, hope not after it;
'Tis not your inky brows, your black silk hair,
Your bugle eyeballs, nor your cheek of cream,
That can entame my spirits to your worship.--
You foolish shepherd, wherefore do you follow her,
Like foggy south, puffing with wind and rain?
You are a thousand times a properer man
Than she a woman. 'Tis such fools as you
That makes the world full of ill-favour'd children:
'Tis not her glass, but you, that flatters her;
And out of you she sees herself more proper
Than any of her lineaments can show her;--
But, mistress, know yourself; down on your knees,
And thank heaven, fasting, for a good man's love:
For I must tell you friendly in your ear,--
Sell when you can; you are not for all markets:
Cry the man mercy; love him; take his offer;
Foul is most foul, being foul to be a scoffer.
So take her to thee, shepherd;--fare you well.

Sweet youth, I pray you chide a year together:
I had rather hear you chide than this man woo.

He's fall'n in love with your foulness, and she'll fall
in love with my anger. If it be so, as fast as she answers thee
with frowning looks, I'll sauce her with bitter words.--Why look
you so upon me?

For no ill-will I bear you.

I pray you do not fall in love with me,
For I am falser than vows made in wine:
Besides, I like you not.--If you will know my house,
'Tis at the tuft of olives here hard by.--
Will you go, sister?--Shepherd, ply her hard.--
Come, sister.--Shepherdess, look on him better,
And be not proud; though all the world could see,
None could be so abused in sight as he.
Come to our flock.


Dead shepherd! now I find thy saw of might;
'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?'

Sweet Phebe,--

Ha! what say'st thou, Silvius?

Sweet Phebe, pity me.

Why, I am sorry for thee, gentle Silvius.

Wherever sorrow is, relief would be:
If you do sorrow at my grief in love,
By giving love, your sorrow and my grief
Were both extermin'd.

Thou hast my love: is not that neighbourly?

I would have you.

Why, that were covetousness.
Silvius, the time was that I hated thee;
And yet it is not that I bear thee love:
But since that thou canst talk of love so well,
Thy company, which erst was irksome to me,
I will endure; and I'll employ thee too:
But do not look for further recompense
Than thine own gladness that thou art employ'd.

So holy and so perfect is my love,
And I in such a poverty of grace,
That I shall think it a most plenteous crop
To glean the broken ears after the man
That the main harvest reaps: lose now and then
A scatter'd smile, and that I'll live upon.

Know'st thou the youth that spoke to me erewhile?

Not very well; but I have met him oft;
And he hath bought the cottage and the bounds
That the old carlot once was master of.

Think not I love him, though I ask for him;
'Tis but a peevish boy:--yet he talks well;--
But what care I for words? yet words do well
When he that speaks them pleases those that hear.
It is a pretty youth:--not very pretty:--
But, sure, he's proud; and yet his pride becomes him:
He'll make a proper man: the best thing in him
Is his complexion; and faster than his tongue
Did make offence, his eye did heal it up.
He is not very tall; yet for his years he's tall;
His leg is but so-so; and yet 'tis well:
There was a pretty redness in his lip;
A little riper and more lusty red
Than that mix'd in his cheek; 'twas just the difference
Betwixt the constant red and mingled damask.
There be some women, Silvius, had they mark'd him
In parcels as I did, would have gone near
To fall in love with him: but, for my part,
I love him not, nor hate him not; and yet
I have more cause to hate him than to love him:
For what had he to do to chide at me?
He said mine eyes were black, and my hair black;
And, now I am remember'd, scorn'd at me:
I marvel why I answer'd not again:
But that's all one; omittance is no quittance.
I'll write to him a very taunting letter,
And thou shalt bear it: wilt thou, Silvius?

Phebe, with all my heart.

I'll write it straight,
The matter's in my head and in my heart:
I will be bitter with him and passing short:
Go with me, Silvius.



  1. Phebe is citing a legal phrase that means a failure to pursue a legal claim does not mean one is giving up the right to make the claim.

    — Stephen Holliday
  2. In Shakespeare's time, black was not considered a beautiful color for physical features like hair and eyes.  Then (and, one could argue, now), fair (blond) hair and blue eyes were the standard for physical beauty.

    — Stephen Holliday
  3. That is, the even mixture of red and white (as in damask cloth).

    — Stephen Holliday
  4. In other words, his good looks make up for his offensive words.

    — Stephen Holliday
  5. That is, wherever there is sorrow, there should be relief for that sorrow.

    — Stephen Holliday
  6. That is, although the world can see what you look like, Silvius' love blinds him (to your plainness).

    — Stephen Holliday
  7. Chide means to quarrel or argue, so Phebe is saying that she would rather hear Rosalind (as Ganymede) argue with her for a year straight than hear Silvius try to woo her.

    — Stephen Holliday
  8. In England, wind blowing from the south often brings clouds, rain, and fog.

    — Stephen Holliday
  9. That is, beady eyes.  In Shakespeare's time, tubular glass beads were commonly used for bracelets and for decorating clothing, and these were called bugles.

    — Stephen Holliday
  10. That is, from what I can see, if you don't carry a candle, you'll go to bed in the dark.

    — Stephen Holliday
  11. Shakespeare is quoting Christopher Marlowe's "Who Ever Loved That Loved Not at First Sight?"


    It lies not in our power to love or hate, 
    For will in us is overruled by fate. 
    When two are stripped, long ere the course begin, 
    We wish that one should love, the other win; 

    And one especially do we affect 
    Of two gold ingots, like in each respect: 
    The reason no man knows; let it suffice 
    What we behold is censured by our eyes. 
    Where both deliberate, the love is slight: 
    Who ever loved, that loved not at first sight?

    Is it true that there is even such a thing as love at first sight? Or is this an illusion? Is it a serious mistake to fall in love with another person at first sight? If there* is* such a thing as love at first sight, is it true that this is the only kind of real love that men and women can experience? Or is this just pure poetry? Is it a poetic conceit whicfh is useful to fit the tight confines of a short drama such as Romeo and Juliet or As You Like It, in which people have to meet and fall in love in only a couple of hours?

    — William Delaney
  12. From Exodus 20:17:

    Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  13. From Romans 13:19:

    For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  14. This is a line from contemporary poet playwright Christopher Marlowe, from his poem, "Hero and Leander."  Marlowe was killed in a tavern brawl in 1593.

    — Jamie Wheeler
  15. Promises are often made when drinking that are not kept when sober.

    — Jamie Wheeler