Indeed, my lord,
The melancholy Jaques grieves at that,
And in that kind swears you do more usurp
Than doth your brother that hath banished you.
30Today my Lord of Amiens and myself
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 sequestered stag
35That from the hunter’s aim had ta'en a hurt
Did come to languish. And indeed, my lord,
The wretched animal heaved forth such groans
That their discharge did stretch his leathern coat
Almost to bursting, and the big round tears
40Coursed one another down his innocent nose
In piteous chase. And thus the hairy fool,
Much markèd of the melancholy Jaques,
Stood on th' extremest verge of the swift brook,
Augmenting it with tears.
Indeed, my lord, the gloomy Jaques grieves over these deaths. He swears that when you kill the deer, you’re a worse usurper than your brother was for banishing you. Today, Lord Amiens and I followed Jaques. We saw him lie down along a brook under an oak tree whose ancient roots peeked out from the earth. A poor, lonely stag who had been hurt by a hunter’s arrow came to rest there, where he heaved such heavy groans that the effort seemed to stretch his hide to bursting. Big, round tears ran piteously down the animal’s innocent nose. The hairy fool, watched closely by sad Jaques, stood on the very edge of the brook, adding his own tears to the streaming water.
45But what said Jaques?
Did he not moralize this spectacle?
And what did Jaques say? Didn’t he take the opportunity to draw a moral from the scene?
Oh, yes, into a thousand similes.
First, for his weeping into the needless stream:
“Poor deer,” quoth he, “thou mak’st a testament
50As worldlings do, giving thy sum of more
To that which had too much.” Then, being there alone,
Left and abandoned of his velvet friend,
“'Tis right,” quoth he. “Thus misery doth part
The flux of company.” Anon a careless herd,
55Full of the pasture, jumps along by him
And never stays to greet him. “Ay,” quoth Jaques,
“Sweep on, you fat and greasy citizens.
'Tis just the fashion. Wherefore do you look
Upon that poor and broken bankrupt there?”
60Thus most invectively he pierceth through
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
65In their assigned and native dwelling place.
Oh, yes, he created a thousand comparisons. First, he spoke of the deer’s needless addition to the stream’s water supply. “Poor deer,” he said, “you’re just like a human: you add more to what already has too much.” Then, about the deer’s being alone, abandoned by his velvety companions: “It’s appropriate,” he said, “that a miserable creature should excuse itself from company.” Just then, a carefree herd of deer, having just eaten their fill of pasture grass, bounded along without stopping to greet their wounded brother. “Sure,” said Jaques, “hurry on, you fat and greasy citizens. Why stop and notice this poor, broken, bankrupt creature here?” In this way, he most insightfully pierced to the heart of the country, the city, the court, and even our lives out here in the forest, swearing that we are mere usurpers and tyrants, frightening and killing animals in their own homes.