Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: The Winter's Tale (Modern)
  • Editor: Hardin Aasand
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-367-0

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Hardin Aasand
    Not Peer Reviewed

    The Winter's Tale (Modern)

    Enter Leontes, Cleomines, Dion, Paulina, and Servants.
    Cleomines Sir, you have done enough and have performed
    A saint-like sorrow. No fault could you make
    Which you have not redeemed, indeed, paid down
    2730More penitence then done trespass. At the last,
    Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;
    With them, forgive yourself.
    Whilst I remember
    Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
    2735My blemishes in them, and so still think of
    The wrong I did myself, which was so much
    That heirless it hath made my kingdom, and
    Destroyed the sweet'st companion that e'er man
    Bred his hopes out of. True?
    Too true, my lord.
    If one by one, you wedded all the world,
    Or from the all that are took something good
    To make a perfect woman, she you killed
    Would be unparalleled.
    I think so. Killed?
    She I killed? I did so, but thou strik'st me
    Sorely to say I did; it is as bitter
    Upon thy tongue as in my thought. Now, good now,
    Say so but seldom.
    Not at all, good lady.
    You might have spoken a thousand things that would
    Have done the time more benefit and graced
    Your kindness better.
    You are one of those
    2755Would have him wed again.
    If you would not so,
    You pity not the state nor the remembrance
    Of his most sovereign name, consider little
    What dangers by his highness fail of issue
    2760May drop upon his kingdom and devour
    Incertain lookers-on. What were more holy
    Than to rejoice the former queen is well?
    What holier than, for royalty's repair
    For present comfort and for future good,
    2765To bless the bed of majesty again
    With a sweet fellow to't?
    There is none worthy,
    Respecting her that's gone. Besides, the gods
    Will have fulfilled their secret purposes.
    2770For has not the divine Apollo said?
    Is't not the tenor of his oracle
    That King Leontes shall not have an heir
    Till his lost child be found? Which that it shall
    Is all as monstrous to our humane reason
    2775As my Antigonus to break his grave
    And come again to me, who, on my life,
    Did perish with the infant. 'Tis your counsel
    My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
    Oppose against their wills. [To the king] Care not for issue.
    2780The crown will find an heir. Great Alexander
    Left his to th' worthiest, so his successor
    Was like to be the best.
    Good Paulina,
    Who hast the memory of Hermione,
    2785I know, in honor. Oh, that ever I
    Had squared me to thy counsel! Then, even now,
    I might have looked upon my queen's full eyes,
    Have taken treasure from her lips --
    And left them
    2790More rich for what they yielded.
    Thou speak'st truth!
    No more such wives, therefore no wife. One worse
    And better used would make her sainted spirit
    Again possess her corpse, and on this stage,
    2795Where we offenders now appear, soul-vexed,
    And begin, "Why to me?"
    Had she such power,
    She had just cause.
    She had, and would incense me
    2800To murder her I married.
    I should so.
    Were I the ghost that walked, I'd bid you mark
    Her eye and tell me for what dull part in't
    You chose her. Then I'd shriek that even your ears
    2805Should rift to hear me, and the words that followed
    Should be, "Remember mine."
    Stars, stars,
    And all eyes else, dead coals! Fear thou no wife;
    I'll have no wife, Paulina.
    Will you swear
    Never to marry but by my free leave?
    Leontes Never, Paulina, so be blessed my spirit.
    Paulina Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.
    You tempt him over-much.
    Unless another
    As like Hermione as is her picture,
    Affront his eye --
    Good madam, I have done.
    Paulina Yet if my lord will marry -- if you will, sir,
    2820No remedy but you will -- give me the office
    To choose you a queen. She shall not be so young
    As was your former, but she shall be such
    As, walked your first queen's ghost, it should take joy
    To see her in your arms.
    My true Paulina,
    We shall not marry till thou bidd'st us.
    Shall be when your first queen's again in breath.
    Never till then.
    Enter a [Gentleman].
    1 Gentleman One that gives out himself Prince Florizel,
    Son of Polixenes, with his princess -- she
    The fairest I have yet beheld -- desires access
    To your high presence.
    What with him? He comes not
    Like to his father's greatness. His approach,
    So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us
    'Tis not a visitation framed, but forced
    By need and accident. What train?
    28401 Gentleman
    But few,
    And those but mean.
    His princess, say you, with him?
    1 Gentleman Ay, the most peerless piece of earth, I think,
    That ere the sun shone bright on.
    O Hermione,
    As every present time doth boast itself
    Above a better, gone, so must thy grave
    Give way to what's seen now. [To the Servant] Sir, you yourself
    Have said and writ so, but your writing now
    2850Is colder than that theme: she had not been,
    Nor was not to be equaled; thus your verse
    Flowed with her beauty once. 'Tis shrewdly ebbed
    To say you have seen a better.
    1 Gentleman
    Pardon, madam,
    2855The one I have almost forgot -- your pardon;
    The other, when she has obtained your eye,
    Will have your tongue too. This is a creature,
    Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal
    Of all professors else, make proselytes
    2860Of who she but bid follow.
    How? Not women!
    1 Gentleman Women will love her that she is a woman
    More worth than any man; men, that she is
    The rarest of all women.
    Go, Cleomines,
    Yourself, assisted with your honored friends,
    Bring them to our embracement. Still 'tis strange
    He thus should steal upon us.
    [Exeunt Cleomines with others]
    Had our prince,
    2870Jewel of children, seen this hour, he had paired
    Well with this lord. There was not full a month
    Between their births.
    Prithee no more; cease! thou know'st
    He dies to me again when talked of. Sure
    2875When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches
    Will bring me to consider that which may
    Unfurnish me of reason. They are come.
    Enter Florizel, Perdita, Cleomines, and others.
    Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince,
    2880For she did print your royal father off,
    Conceiving you. Were I but twenty-one,
    Your father's image is so hit in you,
    His very air, that I should call you brother,
    As I did him, and speak of something wildly
    2885By us performed before. Most dearly welcome,
    And your fair princess -- goddess! Oh, alas!
    I lost a couple that 'twixt heaven and earth
    Might thus have stood, begetting wonder, as
    You, gracious couple, do; and then I lost --
    2890All mine own folly -- the society,
    Amity too of your brave father, whom,
    Though bearing misery, I desire my life
    Once more to look on him.
    By his command
    2895Have I here touched Sicilia, and from him
    Give you all greetings that a king at friend
    Can send his brother; and but infirmity,
    Which waits upon worn times hath something seized
    His wished ability, he had himself
    2900The lands and waters 'twixt your throne and his
    Measured to look upon you, whom he loves --
    He bade me say so -- more than all the scepters,
    And those that bear them, living.
    O my brother!
    2905Good gentleman, the wrongs I have done thee stir
    Afresh within me, and these thy offices,
    So rarely kind, are as interpreters
    Of my behind-hand slackness. Welcome hither,
    As is the spring to th' earth. And hath he too
    2910Exposed this paragon to th' fearful usage
    At least ungentle, of the dreadful Neptune,
    To greet a man not worth her pains, much less
    Th' adventure of her person?
    Good my Lord,
    2915She came from Libya.
    Where the warlike Smalus,
    That noble honored lord, is feared and loved?
    Florizel Most royal sir, from thence; from him whose daughter
    2920His tears proclaimed his, parting with her. Thence,
    A prosperous south-wind friendly, we have crossed
    To execute the charge my father gave me
    For visiting your Highness. My best train
    I have from your Sicilian shores dismissed,
    2925Who for Bohemia bend to signify
    Not only my success in Libya, sir,
    But my arrival and my wife's in safety
    Here where we are.
    The blessèd gods
    2930Purge all infection from our air whilst you
    Do climate here! You have a holy father,
    A graceful gentleman, against whose person,
    So sacred as it is, I have done sin,
    For which the heavens, taking angry note,
    2935Have left me issueless. And your father's blessed,
    As he from heaven merits it, with you,
    Worthy his goodness. What might I have been
    Might I a son and daughter now have looked on,
    Such goodly things as you?
    Enter a Lord
    Most noble sir,
    That which I shall report will bear no credit
    Were not the proof so nigh. Please you, great sir,
    Bohemia greets you from himself by me,
    2945Desires you to attach his son, who has
    His dignity and duty both cast off,
    Fled from his father, from his hopes, and with
    A shepherd's daughter.
    Where's Bohemia? Speak!
    2950Lord Here, in your city I now came from him.
    I speak amazedly, and it becomes
    My marvel and my message. To your court
    Whiles he was hastening -- in the chase, it seems,
    Of this fair couple -- meets he on the way
    2955The father of this seeming lady and
    Her brother, having both their country quitted
    With this young prince.
    Camillo has betrayed me,
    Whose honor and whose honesty till now
    2960Endured all weathers.
    Lay't so to his charge.
    He's with the king your father.
    Who? Camillo?
    Lord Camillo, sir. I spake with him, who now
    2965Has these poor men in question. Never saw I
    Wretches so quake. They kneel, they kiss the earth,
    Forswear themselves as often as they speak.
    Bohemia stops his ears and threatens them
    With diverse deaths in death.
    O my poor father!
    The heaven sets spies upon us, will not have
    Our contract celebrated.
    You are married?
    Florizel We are not, sir, nor are we like to be.
    2975The stars, I see, will kiss the valleys first;
    The odds for high and low's alike.
    My lord,
    Is this the daughter of a king?
    She is,
    2980When once she is my wife.
    Leontes That "once", I see, by your good father's speed
    Will come-on very slowly. I am sorry,
    Most sorry, you have broken from his liking,
    Where you were tied in duty, and as sorry
    2985Your choice is not so rich in worth as beauty,
    That you might well enjoy her.
    Dear, look up,
    Though Fortune, visible an enemy,
    Should chase us with my father, power no jot
    2990Hath she to change our loves. Beseech you, sir,
    Remember since you owed no more to time
    Than I do now. With thought of such affections,
    Step forth mine advocate. At your request,
    My father will grant precious things as trifles.
    2995Leontes Would he do so, I'd beg your precious mistress,
    Which he counts but a trifle.
    Sir, my liege,
    Your eye hath too much youth in't. Not a month
    'Fore your queen died, she was more worth such gazes
    3000Than what you look on now.
    I thought of her,
    Even in these looks I made. [To Florizel] But your petition
    Is yet unanswered. I will to your father.
    Your honor not o'erthrown by your desires,
    3005I am friend to them and you; upon which errand
    I now go toward him. Therefore follow me,
    And mark what way I make. Come, good my lord.