Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Twelfth Night (Modern)
  • Editors: David Carnegie, Mark Houlahan
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-372-4

    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
    Editors: David Carnegie, Mark Houlahan
    Peer Reviewed

    Twelfth Night (Modern)

    [Music.] Enter Orsino Duke of Illyria, Curio, and other Lords.
    If music be the food of love, play on,
    Give me excess of it, that surfeiting,
    The appetite may sicken, and so die.
    [To the Musicians] That strain again! It had a dying fall;
    Oh, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound
    10That breathes upon a bank of violets,
    Stealing, and giving odor. [To the Musicians] Enough, no more.
    'Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
    O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou,
    That notwithstanding thy capacity
    15Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
    Of what validity and pitch soe'er,
    But falls into abatement and low price
    Even in a minute. So full of shapes is fancy,
    That it alone is high fantastical.
    Will you go hunt, my Lord?
    What, Curio?
    The hart.
    Why so I do, the noblest that I have.
    O when mine eyes did see Olivia first,
    25Methought she purged the air of pestilence;
    That instant was I turned into a hart,
    And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,
    E'er since pursue me.
    Enter Valentine.
    How now, what news from her?
    So please my lord, I might not be admitted,
    But from her handmaid do return this answer:
    The element itself, till seven years' heat,
    Shall not behold her face at ample view;
    But like a cloistress she will veilèd walk,
    35And water once a day her chamber round
    With eye-offending brine--all this to season
    A brother's dead love, which she would keep fresh
    And lasting in her sad remembrance.
    O she that hath a heart of that fine frame
    40To pay this debt of love but to a brother,
    How will she love, when the rich golden shaft
    Hath killed the flock of all affections else
    That live in her--when liver, brain, and heart,
    These sovereign thrones, are all supplied, and filled
    45Her sweet perfections, with one self king!
    Away before me, to sweet beds of flowers;
    Love-thoughts lie rich, when canopied with bowers.