Wintered garments must be lined; 
So must slender Rosalind. 
They that reap must sheaf and bind; 
Then to cart with Rosalind. 
Sweetest nut hath sourest rind; 
Such a nut is Rosalind. 
He that sweetest rose will find 
Must find love’s prick, and Rosalind. 
(Act 3, scene 2, lines 105–112) 

Amused by the terrible verse of Orlando’s love poems, Touchstone offers these mock verses that mimic the repetitive rhyme scheme of a passage that Rosalind has just read aloud: “All the pictures fairest line / Are but black to Rosalind. / Let no face be kept in mind / But the fair of Rosalind” (3.2.92–95). Touchstone’s spoof of Orlando’s love poetry draws our attention both to the ineptness of his verse and the juvenile nature of his emotions. Even so, Touchstone turns Orlando’s foolishness into a source of delight, reworking a poem about the nobility of love into a rhyme that climaxes with a bawdy sex joke. The phrase “love’s prick” refers at once to the thorn of a rose and to an erect penis, the latter of which also cheekily references the fact that Rosalind would have played by a boy in Shakespeare’s time.

The poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in this time there was not any man died in his own person, videlicet, in a love cause. . . . Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love. (Act 4, scene 1, lines 100–113)

Rosalind addresses these words to Orlando when she, in disguise as Ganymede, responds to his ridiculous reliance on idealizing love tropes. Attempting to school him out of his immature idea that to be spurned in love is tantamount to death, she draws his attention to Troilus and Leander—two legendary figures who are often thought to have died from love. Rosalind, however, demonstrates that neither man’s death had anything to do with their suffering in love. In the typical style of a Renaissance instructor, she frames her evidence with explicit articulations of the point she aims to demonstrate: namely, that no man has ever died from love.

Whiles a wedlock hymn we sing, 
Feed yourselves with questioning, 
That reason wonder may diminish 
How thus we met, and these things finish. 
Wedding is great Juno’s crown, 
O blessèd bond of board and bed. 
’Tis Hymen peoples every town. 
High wedlock then be honorèd. 
Honor, high honor, and renown 
To Hymen, god of every town.
(Act 5, scene 4, lines 142–51)

Although much of As You Like It showcases the foolishness of love, the play ultimately affirms a reasonable form of love that strikes a workable balance between the real and the ideal. The final affirmation of love comes in the suite of four marriages that conclude the poem, and which are officiated by Hymen, the god of marriage, who speaks these lines. Hymen concludes the wedding ceremony by noting that the suspended time in the Forest of Arden has given rise to much confusion and “questioning.” However, now that “reason” has prevailed, “wonder may diminish,” and a suitably qualified form of love may be authorized. Given that the play has thus far explored many forms of instability with regard to social and gender norms, some modern audiences may resist the return to normative standards. Even so, As You Like It ends with Hymen’s affirmation that he is the “god of every town” and hence love’s great normalizer.