In the Forest of Arden, Duke Senior and his fellow exiles are living an idyllic life. They spend a lot of time idling—playing music, singing, sometimes dancing, and writing love poems. While Shakespeare makes this life of leisure seem attractive, he also mocks it directly and includes the character of Jaques, a melancholic who cannot be happy anywhere, to voice the critique.
In Act II, Scene 1, Duke Senior talks up the virtues of their situation. He asks his “co-mates and brothers in exile” if they don’t agree that their new rural retreat is wonderful, and they should look for the best even if they think it is a bad situation: “Are not these woods/ More free from peril than the envious court?.... Sweet are the uses of advertsity.” Amiens, one of the loyal men, compliments him on his sunny outlook but does not sound entirely convinced. In Act II, Scene 5, Jaques enters with Amiens, one of the duke’s men, who is singing this song:
Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither.
Here shall he see
But winter and rough weather.
While they are there in the summer, the weather is good, and they can loll around listening to birds sing, and everything is lovely. “Hither” was commonly used for “here” in the sense of “to where I am” in Elizabethan times. Amiens calls “come hither” to anyone around who would like to “lie with” him, which can mean lounge around or have sexual relations. Later in the scene, Jaques asks him to sing a parody that he wrote, calling himself and the other exiles “gross fools” for leaving behind their “wealth and ease.”