As You Like It

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 2 Scene 7

page Act 2 Scene 7 Page 2

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20And then he drew a dial from his poke
And, looking on it with lackluster eye,
Says very wisely, “It is ten o'clock.
Thus we may see,” quoth he, “how the world wags.
'Tis but an hour ago since it was nine,
25And after one hour more ’twill be eleven.
And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe,
And then from hour to hour we rot and rot,
And thereby hangs a tale.” When I did hear
The motley fool thus moral on the time,
30My lungs began to crow like chanticleer
That fools should be so deep-contemplative,
And I did laugh sans intermission
An hour by his dial. O noble fool!
A worthy fool! Motley’s the only wear.
Then he pulled a watch from his bag and, looking at it solemnly, said, “It’s ten o'clock. This way, we can see how the world moves. Only an hour ago it was nine, and in another hour it will be eleven. And so, from hour to hour we ripen, and from hour to hour we rot. And there’s a story behind that.” When I heard that motley fool moralizing on the subject of time, I began to crow like a rooster. Hearing a fool speaking so contemplatively made me laugh non-stop for an hour. Oh, noble fool! A worthy fool! Motley is the only thing to wear.

DUKE SENIOR

35What fool is this?

DUKE SENIOR

Who is this fool?

JAQUES

O worthy fool!—One that hath been a courtier
And says, “If ladies be but young and fair,
They have the gift to know it.” And in his brain,
Which is as dry as the remainder biscuit
40After a voyage, he hath strange places crammed
With observation, the which he vents
In mangled forms. Oh, that I were a fool!
I am ambitious for a motley coat.

JAQUES

A worthy fool! He’s been a courtier and says, “If ladies are young and pretty, they always know it.” His

brain

In Shakespeare’s time, people thought different brains, with different amounts of moisture, processed information differently. A “dry” brain took a long time to be “impressed” by information

brain
is dry as a sailor’s biscuit and crammed with all sorts of strange observations, which he presents in mangled fashion. Oh, I wish I were a fool! I’m ambitious for one of those motley coats.

DUKE SENIOR

Thou shalt have one.

DUKE SENIOR

You shall have one.