I need a paraphrase for William Shalespeare's poem "Under Greenwood Tree," printed in Palgrave's Golden Treasury, 1875.

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kplhardison's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #1)

Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.

William Shakespeare

VII. "Under the greenwood tree"

UNDER the greenwood tree    
Who loves to lie with me,    
And tune his merry note    
Unto the sweet bird's throat—    
Come hither, come hither, come hither!             5
Here shall he see    
No enemy    
But winter and rough weather.    

Who doth ambition shun    
And loves to live i' the sun,      10
Seeking the food he eats    
And pleased with what he gets—    
Come hither, come hither, come hither!    
Here shall he see    
No enemy      15
But winter and rough weather.



Underneath the summery tree
If you love to lie with me,
And tune your singing note
To the sweet song bird's throat---
Come here, come here, come here!
Here you will see
No enemy
Except winter and rough weather.

If you have no goals to keep
And love to lie in summer sun,
Searching out the foods you eat
And being pleased with what you get---
Come here, come here, come here!
Here you will see
No enemy
Except winter and rough weather.


This is an ironical poem by William Shakespeare because, of course, in summer with birds singing, trees in full leaf, sunshine to bask in and food abounding for the taking, there is no winter nor rough weather! Therefore--there will be no enemy!

larysa1946's profile pic

Posted on (Answer #2)

I understand it differently. The poet  shows contradiction between calmness and sweetness of nature and  human enemy.  He calls to come there to the forest because no enemy there, meanwhile outside the forest, in the human society there are enemies. The only enemies here will be winter and rough weather, which (it is understood if you can read between lines) are much better than the human enemies outside the forest. Although "As you like it" is a comedy, but in many places it has tragic notes, the whole verse is read with a melancholy tone. The one who agrees to come and live under the greenwood tree will have no worries ( and turns his merry note unto the sweet bird's throat), except for seeking the  food and be happy with what he gets. He calls  to have simple life, far from human  anger, rivalry and treachery. These words are not used in these short lines, but they are clearly implied.

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