Poetry Friday: Orlando’s Poor Love Verses from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

Because I’m going to a Shakespeare-themed music in the park tonight, I thought it fitting to share the Bard this week.  Instead of going for one of the sonnets or eloquent, poetic soliloquies, I have chosen a selection from “As You Like It”–one of my favorite Shakespearean plays.  The following comes from Act 3, Scene 2 where Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone find Orlando’s poorly written love verses pinned to trees.  I wish I could share the entire scene–it is so full of puns and plays on words that it never fails to make me laugh.

Here is one of Orlando’s bad verses, found in lines 99-130.

Why should this a desert be?
For it is unpeopled? No:
Tongues I’ll hang on every tree,
That shall civil sayings show:
Some, how brief the life of man
Runs his erring pilgrimage,
That the stretching of a span
Buckles in his sum of age;
Some, of violated vows
‘Twixt the souls of friend and friend:
But upon the fairest boughs,
Or at every sentence end,
Will I Rosalinda write,
Teaching all that read to know
The quintessence of every sprite
Heaven would in little show.
Therefore Heaven Nature charged
That one body should be fill’d
With all graces wide-enlarged:
Nature presently distill’d
Helen’s cheek, but not her heart,
Cleopatra’s majesty,
Atalanta’s better part,
Sad Lucretia’s modesty.
Thus Rosalind of many parts
By heavenly synod was devised,
Of many faces, eyes and hearts,
To have the touches dearest prized.
Heaven would that she these gifts should have,
And I to live and die her slave.

What is Poetry Friday?  Years ago, when I was in high school, we did poetry lessons every Friday.  I’ve always loved this idea and will continue the tradition by sharing poems on my blog.  It is also a link-up and this week’s host is Carol from Carol’s Corner.

3 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Orlando’s Poor Love Verses from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

  1. Brenda Davis Harsham June 17, 2016 / 8:24 pm

    Even Orlando’s not great poem is still masterful in its nuances. I’m glad you decided to hook up.

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