The Ninth Day of Christmas: "Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile"Act 2 of Shakespeare's As You Like It opens with the speech quoted below. The speaker is the exiled Duke Senior, who has just entered the Forest of Arden with Lord Amiens and several other lords.
Reading Duke Senior's words invites reflection on "the uses of adversity."
Now, my co-mates and brothers in exile,
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons' difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter's wind,
Which, when it bites and blows upon my body,
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say
'This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.'
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones and good in every thing.