Songs in The Play As You Like It

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      Music is the food of love. ‘If music be the food of love play on’ is the first line of Twelfth Night. It is therefore essential that songs should be introduced in his romantic comedies. The songs create an atmosphere in which the course of love can run smoothly. Sometimes they help the progress of the action. Sometimes they divert the attention of the audience or the readers from the tense situation and thus provide them relief. Such is perhaps the ‘willow song’ in Othello which is one of the sweetest and most pathetic songs among the plays of Shakespeare. It not only provides relief but also intensifies the tragic feeling. There are songs in many of his plays.

      The Elizabethans loved music. And this is also the reason why Shakespeare has introduced songs in the play. Shakespeare also loved music. His love of music is expressed through the lips of many characters. The man, who has no love for music, says one of his characters, is fit for murders and crimes.

In Twelfth Night there are eight songs.
Some of the are
What is love? it's not hereafter
Come away, come Death
The rain raineth everyday.

As You Like It: Nature of Music

      As You Like It is also replac with songs. The love for music in the play is so intense that even Jaques begins to sing ‘Ducdame, Ducdame, Ducdcime.’ The songs bring about lyrical quality. David Daiches has written.

“The poetry has a lyrical clarity with overtones of gravity, shifting in tempo in accordance with mood and character of the speaker. And the songs “Under the green wood tree.” Blow, blow, thou winter wind. It was a lover and his lass—echo through the play with a grave sweetness.”

      And Allardyce Nicoll writes about the different tones of these melodies in the play.

“In tone the melodies vary from -
“It was a lover and his lass’
to who doth ambition shun’ and
(Blow Blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude’
The dark tones of the above blend with the flute’s happiness.

Songs in ‘As You Like It’

There are five songs in As You Like It. The first is
Under the green wod tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his meny note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather; etc.

      This song is sung by Amiens. It strikes the keynote of the life of idyllic simplicity and untrammeled freedom in the Forest of Arden. It conjures up visions of the golden age in which men could ‘fleet their lives carelessly.’ But there is here the churlish chiding of the weather than there is another song Ducdame, Ducdame, Ducdame, sung by Jaques.

The second song is
‘BIow, blow, thou winter wind,
Thou art not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude’
Heigh ho ! sing, heigh-ho ! unto the green holly:
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly; etc.

      This song is also sung by Amiens. It contrasts between the idyllic beauty and innocence of nature with the ingratitude of man. It expresses how persons forget the little unremembered acts of kindness and of love. The cold wind may be biting and its sting may be sharp, but it does never deceive.

      The third song strikes a humorous and realistic note. The horns of the deer provide an ancient joke about the cuckolds who wear horns because their wives were unchaste.

      The fourth song is artifical. It is sung in a few snatches by the mythological figure of Hymen.

Wedding is great Juno's crown
O blessed bond of board and bed

      Thus these songs create a romantic atmosphere and also bring a lot of gaity and mirthfulness. They are the soul of comedy and love. They are the loveliest lyrics. They possess divine clarity, simplicity and sweetness. Some of them are very touching. They have the sweetness of the singing birds and rhythm of the flowing streams. Here lies the summit of the lyrical achievement.

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