Introduction

This poem is a song that has been extracted from Shakespeare’s famous play “As You Like It.” A character who lives in exile in a forest sings this song in praise of Nature. He highlights how beautiful and simple a life in Nature is, as it is free from the complications and evils of civilisation. The rhyme scheme of the poem is aabbcadc eeffcadc.

Stanza 1

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
No enemy
But winter and rough weather.

The speaker invites whoever loves to lie with him under the greenwood tree to come “hither” (here), or where he is. He says that if this person would like to turn his merry note, or song, into the song of the sweet bird’s throat, he should come to him. So, the poet invites any enthusiastic friends who want to relax and listen to sweet birdsongs to join him under the shade of the greenwood tree. He says that the person joining him will see no enemies except winter and rough weather. Nature is free from the wickedness of mankind and civilisation, so the only enemies one would find there would be bad weather.

Stanza 2

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

The speaker talks about the kind of people who can join him under the greenwood tree. He says that if a person rejects ambition, loves to live in the sun, can seek and hunt for his own food, and is pleased with what he gets, he should come and join him. So, people can join the speaker under the greenwood tree if they resist worldly temptations such as ambition, love to live freely in the natural world, and are self-sufficient. He again repeats that the person joining him shall see no enemy except winter and rough weather.

Conclusion

This poem teaches us about the beauty and benefits of a life in Nature. It is relaxing, free from the evils of civilisation, and filled with beautiful things such as birdsong. So, Nature can provide humans with a fulfilling and happy life.