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  • Title: Love's Labor's Lost (Folio 1, 1623)
  • Editor: Timothy Billings

  • Copyright Timothy Billings. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Timothy Billings
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Love's Labor's Lost (Folio 1, 1623)


    Loues Labour's lost

    1 Actus primus.

    Enter Ferdinand King of Nauarre, Berowne, Longauill, and
    5LEt Fame, that all hunt after in their liues,
    Liue registred vpon our brazen Tombes,
    And then grace vs in the disgrace of death:
    when spight of cormorant deuouring Time,
    Th'endeuour of this present breath may buy:
    10That honour which shall bate his sythes keene edge,
    And make vs heyres of all eternitie.
    Therefore braue Conquerours, for so you are,
    That warre against your owne affections,
    And the huge Armie of the worlds desires.
    15Our late edict shall strongly stand in force,
    Nauar shall be the wonder of the world.
    Our Court shall be a little Achademe,
    Still and contemplatiue in liuing Art.
    You three, Berowne, Dumaine, and Longauill,
    20Haue sworne for three yeeres terme, to liue with me:
    My fellow Schollers, and to keepe those statutes
    That are recorded in this scedule heere.
    Your oathes are past, and now subscribe your names:
    That his owne hand may strike his honour downe,
    25That violates the smallest branch heerein:
    If you are arm'd to doe, as sworne to do,
    Subscribe to your deepe oathes, and keepe it to.
    Longauill. I am resolu'd, 'tis but a three yeeres fast:
    The minde shall banquet, though the body pine,
    30Fat paunches haue leane pates: and dainty bits,
    Make rich the ribs, but bankerout the wits.
    Dumane. My louing Lord, Dumane is mortified,
    The grosser manner of these worlds delights,
    He throwes vpon the grosse worlds baser slaues:
    35To loue, to wealth, to pompe, I pine and die,
    With all these liuing in Philosophie.
    Berowne. I can but say their protestation ouer,
    So much, deare Liege, I haue already sworne,
    That is, to liue and study heere three yeeres.
    40But there are other strict obseruances:
    As not to see a woman in that terme,
    Which I hope well is not enrolled there.
    And one day in a weeke to touch no foode:
    And but one meale on euery day beside:
    45The which I hope is not enrolled there.
    And then to sleepe but three houres in the night,
    And not be seene to winke of all the day.
    When I was wont to thinke no harme all night,
    And make a darke night too of halfe the day:

    50Which I hope well is not enrolled there.
    O, these are barren taskes, too hard to keepe,
    Not to see Ladies, study, fast, not sleepe.
    Ferd. Your oath is past, to passe away from these.
    Berow. Let me say no my Liedge, and if you please,
    55I onely swore to study with your grace,
    And stay heere in your Court for three yeeres space.
    Longa. You swore to that Berowne, and to the rest.
    Berow. By yea and nay sir, than I swore in iest.
    What is the end of study, let me know?
    60Fer. Why that to know which else wee should not
    Ber. Things hid & bard (you meane) frõ cõmon sense.
    Ferd. I, that is studies god-like recompence.
    Bero. Come on then, I will sweare to studie so,
    65To know the thing I am forbid to know:
    As thus, to study where I well may dine,
    When I to fast expressely am forbid.
    Or studie where to meet some Mistresse fine,
    When Mistresses from common sense are hid.
    70Or hauing sworne too hard a keeping oath,
    Studie to breake it, and not breake my troth.
    If studies gaine be thus, and this be so,
    Studie knowes that which yet it doth not know,
    Sweare me to this, and I will nere say no.
    75Ferd. These be the stops that hinder studie quite,
    And traine our intellects to vaine delight.
    Ber. Why? all delights are vaine, and that most vaine
    Which with paine purchas'd, doth inherit paine,
    As painefully to poare vpon a Booke,
    80To seeke the light of truth, while truth the while
    Doth falsely blinde the eye-sight of his looke:
    Light seeeking light, doth light of light beguile:
    So ere you finde where light in darkenesse lies,
    Your light growes darke by losing of your eyes.
    85Studie me how to please the eye indeede,
    By fixing it vpon a fairer eye,
    Who dazling so, that eye shall be his heed,
    And giue him light that it was blinded by.
    Studie is like the heauens glorious Sunne,
    90That will not be deepe search'd with sawcy lookes:
    Small haue continuall plodders euer wonne,
    Saue base authoritie from others Bookes.
    These earthly Godfathers of heauens lights,
    That giue a name to euery fixed Starre,
    95Haue no more profit of their shining nights,
    Then those that walke and wot not what they are.
    Too much to know, is to know nought but fame:
    And euery Godfather can giue a name.
    Fer. How well hee's read, to reason against reading.