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,
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 are counsellors
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,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
(II.i. 1– 17)
These lines, spoken by Duke Senior upon
his introduction in Act II, scene i, establish the pastoral mode
of the play. With great economy, Shakespeare draws a dividing line
between the “painted pomp” of court—with perils great enough to
drive the duke and his followers into exile—and the safe and restorative
Forest of Ardenne (II.i.