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Scene 3

The King of Navarre’s park.

(Berowne; King; Longaville; Dumaine; Jaquenetta; Costard)

Berowne is still considering the fact that he is in love, and has written another love letter to Rosaline. Seeing the King coming, he hides, only to overhear the King read out a (rather poor) love poem he has written to the Princess. The King sees Longaville arriving with a paper in hand, and hides; Longaville too reads out a (rather bad) love poem he has written, and wonders how to get it to his lady-love. At this point he spies Dumaine arriving, and hides. All three overhear this latest arrival agonize and read out his (rather dreadful) love poem. At this point, Longaville jumps out to accuse Dumaine of breaking his vows; the King steps forwards and points out that Longaville is in the same boat; and Berowne, hypocritically vowing to show up hypocrisy, advances to accuse all three of breaking their vow concerning women. Berowne has a fine time being morally superior to the other three, but unfortunately for him Jaquenetta and Costard arrive, bearing his letter to Rosaline, and he too is revealed as a love-sick perjurer. The other three mock him roundly for being in love with an unfashionably dark woman, but he defends her. At their request, Berowne embarks on a hair-splitting rationalization that gets them off the hook for falling in love. The four decide to join together to entertain the ladies, in the hopes of softening their hearts. (378 lines)

Enter Berowne with a paper in his hand, alone.


The King he is hunting the deer: I am coursing myself. They have pitch’d a toil: I am toiling in a pitch—pitch that defiles—defile! A foul word. Well, “set thee down, sorrow!” for so they say the fool said, and so say I, and I the fool: well prov’d, wit! By the Lord, this love is as mad as Ajax. It kills sheep; it kills me, I a sheep: well prov’d again a’ my side! I will not love; if I do, hang me; i’ faith, I will not. O but her eye—by this light, but for her eye, I would not love her; yes, for her two eyes. Well, I do nothing in the world but lie, and lie in my throat. By heaven, I do love, and it hath taught me to rhyme and to be melancholy; and here is part of my rhyme, and here my melancholy. Well, she hath one a’ my sonnets already: the clown bore it, the fool sent it, and the lady hath it: sweet clown, sweeter fool, sweetest lady! By the world, I would not care a pin, if the other three were in. Here comes one with a paper, God give him grace to groan!

He stands aside, climbing into a tree.

The King ent’reth with a paper.


Ay me!



Shot, by heaven! Proceed, sweet Cupid, thou hast thump’d him with thy bird-bolt under the left pap. In faith, secrets!



“So sweet a kiss the golden sun gives not

To those fresh morning drops upon the rose,

As thy eye-beams, when their fresh rays have smote

The night of dew that on my cheeks down flows;

Nor shines the silver moon one half so bright

Through the transparent bosom of the deep,

As doth thy face through tears of mine give light.

Thou shin’st in every tear that I do weep,

No drop but as a coach doth carry thee;

So ridest thou triumphing in my woe.

Do but behold the tears that swell in me,

And they thy glory through my grief will show.

But do not love thyself, then thou wilt keep

My tears for glasses, and still make me weep.

O queen of queens, how far dost thou excel

No thought can think, nor tongue of mortal tell.”

How shall she know my griefs? I’ll drop the paper.

Sweet leaves, shade folly. Who is he comes here?

Enter Longaville with a paper. The King steps aside.

What, Longaville, and reading! Listen, ear.



Now in thy likeness, one more fool appear!


Ay me, I am forsworn!



Why, he comes in like a perjure, wearing papers.



In love, I hope—sweet fellowship in shame.



One drunkard loves another of the name.


Am I the first that have been perjur’d so?



I could put thee in comfort: not by two that I know.

Thou makest the triumphery, the corner-cap of society,

The shape of love’s Tyburn that hangs up simplicity.


I fear these stubborn lines lack power to move.

O sweet Maria, empress of my love,

These numbers will I tear, and write in prose!



O, rhymes are guards on wanton Cupid’s hose:

Disfigure not his shop.


This same shall go.

He reads the sonnet.

“Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,

’Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument,

Persuade my heart to this false perjury?

Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.

A woman I forswore, but I will prove,

Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee.

My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love;

Thy grace being gain’d cures all disgrace in me.

Vows are but breath, and breath a vapor is;

Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine,

Exhal’st this vapor-vow; in thee it is.

If broken then, it is no fault of mine:

If by me broke, what fool is not so wise

To lose an oath to win a paradise?”



This is the liver-vein, which makes flesh a deity,

A green goose a goddess; pure, pure idolatry.

God amend us, God amend! We are much out a’ th’ way.

Enter Dumaine with a paper.


By whom shall I send this?—Company? Stay.

Steps aside.



“All hid, all hid,” an old infant play.

Like a demigod here sit I in the sky,

And wretched fools’ secrets heedfully o’er-eye.

More sacks to the mill! O heavens, I have my wish!

Dumaine transformed! Four woodcocks in a dish!


O most divine Kate!



O most profane coxcomb!


By heaven, the wonder in a mortal eye!



By earth, she is not, corporal, there you lie.


Her amber hairs for foul hath amber coted.



An amber-color’d raven was well noted.


As upright as the cedar.



Stoop, I say,

Her shoulder is with child.


As fair as day.



Ay, as some days, but then no sun must shine.


O that I had my wish!



And I had mine!



And mine too, good Lord!



Amen, so I had mine. Is not that a good word?


I would forget her, but a fever she

Reigns in my blood, and will rememb’red be.



A fever in your blood! Why then incision

Would let her out in saucers. Sweet misprision!


Once more I’ll read the ode that I have writ.



Once more I’ll mark how love can vary wit.


Reads his sonnet.

“On a day—alack the day!—

Love, whose month is ever May,

Spied a blossom passing fair

Playing in the wanton air:

Through the velvet leaves the wind,

All unseen, can passage find;

That the lover, sick to death,

Wish’d himself the heavens’ breath.

Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;

Air, would I might triumph so!

But, alack, my hand is sworn

ne’er to pluck thee from thy thorn;

Vow, alack, for youth unmeet,

Youth so apt to pluck a sweet.

Do not call it sin in me,

That I am forsworn for thee;

Thou for whom Jove would swear

Juno but an Ethiop were,

And deny himself for Jove,

Turning mortal for thy love.”

This will I send and something else more plain

That shall express my true love’s fasting pain.

O would the King, Berowne, and Longaville

Were lovers too! Ill, to example ill,

Would from my forehead wipe a perjur’d note:

For none offend where all alike do dote.



Dumaine, thy love is far from charity,

That in love’s grief desir’st society:

You may look pale, but I should blush, I know,

To be o’erheard and taken napping so.



Come, sir, you blush; as his your case is such;

You chide at him, offending twice as much.

You do not love Maria? Longaville

Did never sonnet for her sake compile,

Nor never lay his wreathed arms athwart

His loving bosom to keep down his heart.

I have been closely shrouded in this bush

And mark’d you both, and for you both did blush.

I heard your guilty rhymes, observ’d your fashion,

Saw sighs reek from you, noted well your passion.

“Ay me!” says one, “O Jove!” the other cries;

One, her hairs were gold, crystal the other’s eyes.

To Longaville.

You would for paradise break faith and troth,

To Dumaine.

And Jove for your love would infringe an oath.

What will Berowne say when that he shall hear

Faith infringed, which such zeal did swear?

How will he scorn! How will he spend his wit!

How will he triumph, leap, and laugh at it!

For all the wealth that ever I did see,

I would not have him know so much by me.


Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.

Descending and advancing.

Ah, good my liege, I pray thee pardon me!

Good heart, what grace hast thou thus to reprove

These worms for loving, that art most in love?

Your eyes do make no coaches; in your tears

There is no certain princess that appears;

You’ll not be perjur’d, ’tis a hateful thing;

Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting!

But are you not asham’d? Nay, are you not,

All three of you, to be thus much o’ershot?

You found his mote, the King your mote did see;

But I a beam do find in each of three.

O, what a scene of fool’ry have I seen,

Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow, and of teen!

O me, with what strict patience have I sat,

To see a king transformed to a gnat!

To see great Hercules whipping a gig,

And profound Salomon to tune a jig,

And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys,

And critic Timon laugh at idle toys!

Where lies thy grief, O, tell me, good Dumaine?

And, gentle Longaville, where lies thy pain?

And where my liege’s? All about the breast!

A caudle ho!


Too bitter is thy jest.

Are we betrayed thus to thy over-view?


Not you by me, but I betrayed to you:

I that am honest, I that hold it sin

To break the vow I am engaged in.

I am betrayed by keeping company

With men like you, men of inconstancy.

When shall you see me write a thing in rhyme,

Or groan for Joan, or spend a minute’s time

In pruning me? When shall you hear that I

Will praise a hand, a foot, a face, an eye,

A gait, a state, a brow, a breast, a waist,

A leg, a limb—


Soft, whither away so fast?

A true man, or a thief, that gallops so?


I post from love; good lover, let me go.

Enter Jaquenetta and Clown Costard.


God bless the King!


What present hast thou there?


Some certain treason.


What makes treason here?


Nay, it makes nothing, sir.


If it mar nothing neither,

The treason and you go in peace away together.


I beseech your Grace let this letter be read:

Our person misdoubts it; ’twas treason, he said.


Berowne, read it over.

Berowne reads the letter.

Where hadst thou it?


Of Costard.


Where hadst thou it?


Of Dun Adramadio, Dun Adramadio.

Berowne tears the letter.


How now, what is in you? Why dost thou tear it?


A toy, my liege, a toy; your Grace needs not fear it.


It did move him to passion, and therefore let’s hear it.


Gathering up the pieces.

It is Berowne’s writing, and here is his name.


To Costard.

Ah, you whoreson loggerhead, you were born to do me shame.

Guilty, my lord, guilty! I confess, I confess.




That you three fools lack’d me fool to make up the mess.

He, he, and you—and you, my liege!—and I,

Are pick-purses in love, and we deserve to die.

O, dismiss this audience, and I shall tell you more.


Now the number is even.


True, true, we are four.

Will these turtles be gone?


Hence, sirs, away!


Walk aside the true folk, and let the traitors stay.

Exeunt Costard and Jaquenetta.


Sweet lords, sweet lovers, O, let us embrace!

As true we are as flesh and blood can be.

The sea will ebb and flow, heaven show his face;

Young blood doth not obey an old decree.

We cannot cross the cause why we were born;

Therefore of all hands must we be forsworn.


What, did these rent lines show some love of thine?


Did they, quoth you? Who sees the heavenly Rosaline,

That (like a rude and savage man of Inde),

At the first op’ning of the gorgeous east,

Bows not his vassal head, and strucken blind,

Kisses the base ground with obedient breast?

What peremptory eagle-sighted eye

Dares look upon the heaven of her brow,

That is not blinded by her majesty?


What zeal, what fury, hath inspir’d thee now?

My love (her mistress) is a gracious moon,

She (an attending star) scarce seen a light.


My eyes are then no eyes, nor I Berowne.

O, but for my love, day would turn to night!

Of all complexions the cull’d sovereignty

Do meet as at a fair in her fair cheek,

Where several worthies make one dignity,

Where nothing wants that want itself doth seek.

Lend me the flourish of all gentle tongues—

Fie, painted rhetoric! O, she needs it not.

To things of sale a seller’s praise belongs:

She passes praise, then praise too short doth blot.

A wither’d hermit, fivescore winters worn,

Might shake off fifty, looking in her eye:

Beauty doth varnish age, as if new born,

And gives the crutch the cradle’s infancy.

O, ’tis the sun that maketh all things shine!


By heaven, thy love is black as ebony.


Is ebony like her? O wood divine!

A wife of such wood were felicity.

O, who can give an oath? Where is a book?

That I may swear beauty doth beauty lack,

If that she learn not of her eye to look:

No face is fair that is not full so black.


O paradox! Black is the badge of hell,

The hue of dungeons, and the school of night;

And beauty’s crest becomes the heavens well.


Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of

O, if in black my lady’s brows be deck’d,

It mourns that painting and usurping hair

Should ravish doters with a false aspect:

And therefore is she born to make black fair.

Her favor turns the fashion of the days,

For native blood is counted painting now;

And therefore red, that would avoid dispraise,

Paints itself black, to imitate her brow.


To look like her are chimney-sweepers black.


And since her time are colliers counted bright.


And Ethiops of their sweet complexion crack.


Dark needs no candles now, for dark is light.


Your mistresses dare never come in rain,

For fear their colors should be wash’d away.


’Twere good yours did; for, sir, to tell you plain,

I’ll find a fairer face not wash’d today.


I’ll prove her fair, or talk till doomsday here.


No devil will fright thee then so much as she.


I never knew man hold vile stuff so dear.


Look, here’s thy love,

Showing his boot.

my foot and her face see.


O, if the streets were paved with thine eyes,

Her feet were much too dainty for such tread!


O vile! Then as she goes what upward lies

The street should see as she walk’d overhead.


But what of this, are we not all in love?


O, nothing so sure, and thereby all forsworn.


Then leave this chat, and, good Berowne, now prove

Our loving lawful, and our faith not torn.


Ay marry, there—some flattery for this evil.


O, some authority how to proceed;

Some tricks, some quillets, how to cheat the devil.


Some salve for perjury.


O, ’tis more than need.

Have at you then, affection’s men-at-arms.

Consider what you first did swear unto:

To fast, to study, and to see no woman—

Flat treason ’gainst the kingly state of youth.

Say, can you fast? Your stomachs are too young,

And abstinence engenders maladies.

(And where that you have vow’d to study, lords,

In that each of you have forsworn his book,

Can you still dream and pore and thereon look?

For when would you, my lord, or you, or you,

Have found the ground of study’s excellence

Without the beauty of a woman’s face?

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:

They are the ground, the books, the academes,

From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire.

Why, universal plodding poisons up

The nimble spirits in the arteries,

As motion and long-during action tires

The sinowy vigor of the traveler.

Now for not looking on a woman’s face,

You have in that forsworn the use of eyes,

And study too, the causer of your vow.

For where is any author in the world

Teaches such beauty as a woman’s eye?

Learning is but an adjunct to ourself,

And where we are, our learning likewise is.

Then when ourselves we see in ladies’ eyes,

With ourselves,

Do we not likewise see our learning there?)

O, we have made a vow to study, lords,

And in that vow we have forsworn our books.

For when would you, my liege, or you, or you,

In leaden contemplation have found out

Such fiery numbers as the prompting eyes

Of beauty’s tutors have enrich’d you with?

Other slow arts entirely keep the brain;

And therefore, finding barren practicers,

Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil;

But love, first learned in a lady’s eyes,

Lives not alone immured in the brain,

But with the motion of all elements,

Courses as swift as thought in every power,

And gives to every power a double power,

Above their functions and their offices.

It adds a precious seeing to the eye:

A lover’s eyes will gaze an eagle blind.

A lover’s ear will hear the lowest sound,

When the suspicious head of theft is stopp’d.

Love’s feeling is more soft and sensible

Than are the tender horns of cockled snails.

Love’s tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste.

For valor, is not Love a Hercules,

Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?

Subtile as Sphinx, as sweet and musical

As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair.

And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods

Make heaven drowsy with the harmony.

Never durst poet touch a pen to write

Until his ink were temp’red with Love’s sighs:

O then his lines would ravish savage ears

And plant in tyrants mild humility.

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:

They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;

They are the books, the arts, the academes,

That show, contain, and nourish all the world,

Else none at all in aught proves excellent.

Then fools you were these women to forswear,

Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools.

For wisdom’s sake, a word that all men love,

Or for love’s sake, a word that loves all men,

Or for men’s sake, the authors of these women,

Or women’s sake, by whom we men are men,

Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves,

Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.

It is religion to be thus forsworn:

For charity itself fulfills the law,

And who can sever love from charity?


Saint Cupid, then! And, soldiers, to the field!


Advance your standards, and upon them, lords;

Pell-mell, down with them! But be first advis’d,

In conflict that you get the sun of them.


Now to plain-dealing, lay these glozes by:

Shall we resolve to woo these girls of France?


And win them too; therefore let us devise

Some entertainment for them in their tents.


First, from the park let us conduct them thither;

Then homeward every man attach the hand

Of his fair mistress. In the afternoon

We will with some strange pastime solace them,

Such as the shortness of the time can shape,

For revels, dances, masks, and merry hours

Forerun fair Love, strewing her way with flowers.


Away, away, no time shall be omitted

That will be time, and may by us be fitted.


Allons! Allons!

Sow’d cockle reap’d no corn,

And justice always whirls in equal measure:

Light wenches may prove plagues to men forsworn;

If so, our copper buys no better treasure.



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