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    Not Peer Reviewed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]
    Nor night nor day no rest. It is but weakness
    To bear the matter thus, mere weakness. If
    The cause were not in being -- part o'th cause,
    She, th' adulteress; for the harlot-king
    Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
    905And level of my brain, plot-proof -- but she,
    I can hook to me. Say that she were gone,
    Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
    Might come to me again. Who's there?
    [Enter Servant]
    My lord?
    How does the boy?
    He took good rest tonight. 'Tis hoped
    His sickness is discharged.
    To see his nobleness
    Conceiving the dishonor of his mother!
    915He straight declined, drooped, took it deeply,
    Fastened, and fixed the shame on't in himself;
    Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,
    And downright languished. Leave me solely. Go,
    See how he fares.
    [Exit Servant.]
    Fie, fie, no thought of him.
    920The very thought of my revenges that way
    Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,
    And in his parties, his alliance. Let him be
    Until a time may serve. For present vengeance
    Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes
    925Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow.
    They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor
    Shall she within my power.
    Enter Paulina [with baby], Antigonus, Lords and Servants.
    You must not enter.
    Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me.
    Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,
    Than the Queen's life? A gracious innocent soul,
    More free than he is jealous.
    That's enough.
    Madam, he hath not slept tonight, commanded
    None should come at him.
    Not so hot, good sir.
    I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you
    That creep like shadows by him and do sigh
    940At each his needless heavings, such as you
    Nourish the cause of his awaking. I
    Do come with words as medicinal as true --
    Honest as either -- to purge him of that humor
    That presses him from sleep.
    [To Paulina, taking notice of voice] What noise there, ho?
    No noise, my Lord, but needful conference
    About some gossips for your Highness.
    Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,
    950I charged thee that she should not come about me.
    I knew she would.
    I told her so, my lord,
    On your displeasure's peril and on mine
    She should not visit you.
    What? Canst not rule her?
    From all dishonesty he can; in this --
    Unless he take the course that you have done,
    Commit me for committing honor -- trust it,
    He shall not rule me.
    La you now, you hear.
    When she will take the rein I let her run,
    But she'll not stumble.
    Good, my liege, I come,
    And I beseech you hear me, who professes
    965Myself your loyal servant, your physician,
    Your most obedient counselor yet that dares
    Less appear so in comforting your evils,
    Than such as most seem yours. I say, I come
    From your good queen.
    "Good" queen?
    Good queen, my Lord, good queen,
    I say "good queen",
    And would by combat make her good, so were I
    A man, the worst about you.
    Force her hence.
    Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes
    First hand me; on mine own accord, I'll off,
    But first I'll do my errand. The good queen --
    For she is good -- hath brought you forth a daughter.
    980Here 'tis. Commends it to your blessing.
    [Laying down the baby]
    A mankind witch? Hence with her, out o'door!
    A most intelligencing bawd.
    Not so!
    985I am as ignorant in that as you
    In so entitling me and no less honest
    Than you are mad, which is enough I'll warrant
    As this world goes to pass for honest.
    990Will you not push her out?
    [To Antigonus] Give her the bastard,
    Thou dotard! Thou art woman-tired, unroosted
    By thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard,
    Take't up, I say! Give't to thy crone.
    [To Antigonus] Forever
    995Unvenerable be thy hands, if thou
    Tak'st up the princess by that forced baseness
    Which he has put upon't.
    He dreads his wife.
    So I would you did; then 'twere past all doubt
    1000You'd call your children yours.
    A nest of traitors!
    I am none, by this good light.
    Nor I, nor any
    But one that's here, and that's himself. For he
    1005The sacred honor of himself, his queen's,
    His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander,
    Whose sting is sharper than the sword's and will not --
    For as the case now stands, it is a curse
    He cannot be compelled to't -- once remove
    1010The root of his opinion, which is rotten,
    As ever oak or stone was sound.
    A callet
    Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband
    And now baits me. This brat is none of mine.
    1015It is the issue of Polixenes.
    Hence with it, and together with the dam
    Commit them to the fire!
    It is yours,
    And might we lay th'old proverb to your charge,
    1020So like you 'tis the worse. Behold, my lords,
    Although the print be little, the whole matter
    And copy of the father -- eye, nose, lip,
    The trick of's frown, his forehead, nay, the valley,
    The pretty dimples of his chin, and cheek, his smiles
    1025The very mold and frame of hand, nail, finger.
    And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it
    So like to him that got it, if thou hast
    The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colors
    No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does,
    1030Her children not her husband's.
    A gross hag!
    [To Antigonus] And, lozel, thou art worthy to be hanged
    That wilt not stay her tongue.
    Hang all the husbands
    1035That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself
    Hardly one subject.
    Once more, take her hence!
    A most unworthy and unnatural lord
    Can do no more.
    I'll ha' thee burnt.
    I care not.
    It is an heretic that makes the fire,
    Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant.
    But this most cruel usage of your queen,
    1045Not able to produce more accusation
    Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savors
    Of tyranny and will ignoble make you,
    Yea, scandalous to the world.
    [To Antigonus] On your allegiance,
    1050Out of the chamber with her. Were I a tyrant,
    Where were her life? She durst not call me so
    If she did know me one. Away with her!
    [To Lords] I pray you do not push me; I'll be gone.
    Look to your babe, my Lord, 'tis yours. Jove send her
    1055A better guiding spirit. What needs these hands?
    You that are thus so tender o'er his follies
    Will never do him good, not one of you.
    So, so. Farewell, we are gone.
    Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.
    1060My child? Away with't! Even thou that hast
    A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence,
    And see it instantly consumed with fire.
    Even thou, and none but thou. Take it up straight;
    Within this hour bring me word 'tis done,
    1065And by good testimony, or I'll seize thy life
    With what thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse,
    And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so.
    The bastard-brains with these my proper hands
    Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire,
    1070For thou set'st on thy wife.
    I did not, sir.
    These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,
    Can clear me in't.
    We can, my royal liege.
    1075He is not guilty of her coming hither.
    You're liars all!
    Beseech your Highness, give us better credit.
    We have always truly served you and beseech
    So to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg
    1080As recompense of our dear services
    Past and to come that you do change this purpose,
    Which being so horrible, so bloody, must
    Lead on to some foul issue. We all kneel.
    I am a feather for each wind that blows.
    1085Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel
    And call me father? Better burn it now
    Then curse it then. But be it; let it live.
    It shall not neither. You sir, come you hither,
    You that have been so tenderly officious
    1090With Lady Margerie, your midwife there,
    To save this bastard's life, for 'tis a bastard,
    So sure as this beard's gray. What will you adventure
    To save this brat's life?
    Anything, my lord,
    1095That my ability may undergo
    And nobleness impose, at least thus much:
    I'll pawn the little blood which I have left
    To save the innocent. Anything possible.
    It shall be possible. Swear by this sword
    1100Thou wilt perform my bidding.
    [Places hand on hilt of sword] I will, my lord.
    Mark, and perform it, seest thou? For the fail
    Of any point in't shall not only be
    Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongued wife,
    1105Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,
    As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
    This female bastard hence, and that thou bear it
    To some remote and desert place, quite out
    Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it
    1110Without more mercy, to it own protection
    And favor of the climate. As by strange fortune
    It came to us, I do in justice charge thee
    On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture
    That thou commend it strangely to some place
    1115Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.
    I swear to do this, though a present death
    Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe,
    [Takes up baby]
    Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
    To be thy nurses. Wolves and bears, they say,
    1120Casting their savageness aside have done
    Like offices of pity-- [To Leontes] Sir, be prosperous
    In more than this deed does require -- [To baby] and blessing
    Against this cruelty fight on thy side,
    Poor thing, condemned to loss.
    Exit [with child]
    No, I'll not rear
    Another's issue.
    Enter a Servant.
    Please your Highness, posts
    From those you sent to th'oracle are come
    An hour since. Cleomines and Dion,
    1130Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,
    Hasting to th'court.
    So please you, sir, their speed
    Hath been beyond account.
    Twenty-three days
    1135They have been absent. 'Tis good speed, foretells
    The great Apollo suddenly will have
    The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords,
    Summon a session that we may arraign
    Our most disloyal lady, for as she hath
    1140Been publicly accused, so shall she have
    A just and open trial. While she lives,
    My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me,
    And think upon my bidding.