Oh, thou didst then ne’er love so heartily. If thou rememb’rest not the slightest folly That ever love did make thee run into, Thou hast not loved. (II.iv.28–31)
The two shepherds Silvius and Corin discuss love. Silvius, who models himself after a courtier in love, claims that he has loved more than Corin, since he has suffered more. Corin claims that he can’t remember all the foolish things he did for love in his youth. Here, Silvius replies that Corin couldn’t have loved heartily, for only those who experience true love remember every minute detail of their experience. This and other exchanges satirize the mode of courtly love: Characters such as Silvius and Corin who would rather posture as the suffering lover than delight in true love are made to seem foolish.
We that are true lovers run into strange capers. But as all is mortal in nature, so is all nature in love mortal in folly. (II.iv.50–52)
Touchstone tells Rosalind about the foolish things he’s done for love, testifying to the strange things that love makes one do. Yet, Touchstone points out, everything in nature will someday die, including the foolishness of love. Rosalind replies that Touchstone seems wiser than he knows. Touchstone’s statement here captures the fleeting nature of the first rush one experiences when in love, a rush both he and Rosalind know represents a simple function of the nature of love itself. Rosalind and the fool, Touchstone, become two of the wisest mouthpieces on love in the play.
No, that same wicked bastard of Venus that was begot of thought, conceived of spleen, and born of madness, that blind rascally boy that abuses everyone’s eyes because his own are out, let him be judge how deep I am in love. (IV.i.178–181)
Here, Rosalind tries to convince Celia how much she loves Orlando. Even as Rosalind curses Cupid, the mythological figure responsible for inflicting love on humans, she extolls the love that Cupid has sowed in her. Trust in Cupid, Rosalind says, to judge how deeply she feels in love since he is the only being irrational enough to judge such an emotion correctly. Rosalind appears to be both aware of and subsumed by her situation, a situation that shows her strength as a pivotal character in the play, representing how to be both in love and above it.
Is ’t possible that on so little acquaintance you should like her? That, but seeing, you should love her? And loving, woo? And wooing, she should grant? And will you persever to enjoy her? (V.ii.1–4)
Orlando questions Oliver’s love for Aliena, who is actually Celia. He asks how someone could be in love with another so soon after meeting, and whether, if said love is true, Oliver can make such a love last. Orlando poses real questions about love, knowing that the first flush of love is fleeting, a statement made repeatedly over the course of the play. Furthermore, Orlando’s wise statements make his love for Rosalind seem even more real since he understands the nature of human emotion.
There was a lover and his girl, With a hey, and a ho, and a hey-nonny-no, Who walked through the cornfield In the springtime, the only proper wedding time, The time when birds sing, Hey ding-a-ding-ding. Sweet lovers love the spring. (V.iii.16–19)
Many of the songs throughout the play, such as this, sound irreverent and lighthearted when sung aloud, but such songs operate as vehicles for a more serious truth. These lines sung by two court pages capture the pleasures and delights of being in love, a state of being that, based on the play’s message, should be celebrated, not condemned. In this song, love and nature are compared with the season of spring, a time when everything seems to be atwitter with new life and joy. Such a concept reveals that being in love can make one a fool, but even still, love’s methods are natural and universal.