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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Antigonus carrying baby, followed by a mariner]
    Thou art perfect, then, our ship hath touched upon
    1440The deserts of Bohemia?
    Ay, my lord, and fear
    We have landed in ill time: the skies look grimly
    And threaten present blusters. In my conscience
    The heavens with that we have in hand are angry
    1445And frown upon's.
    Their sacred wills be done. Go, get aboard,
    Look to thy bark. I'll not be long before
    I call upon thee.
    Make your best haste, and go not
    1450Too far i'th'land. 'Tis like to be loud weather.
    Besides, this place is famous for the creatures
    Of prey that keep upon't.
    Go thou away,
    I'll follow instantly.
    I am glad at heart
    To be so rid o'th business.
    Come, poor babe.
    I have heard -- but not believed -- the spirits o'th'dead
    May walk again. If such thing be, thy mother
    1460Appeared to me last night, for never was dream
    So like a waking. To me comes a creature,
    Sometimes her head on one side, some another.
    I never saw a vessel of like sorrow,
    So filled and so becoming; in pure white robes
    1465Like very sanctity she did approach
    My cabin where I lay, thrice bowed before me,
    And, gasping to begin some speech, her eyes
    Became two spouts; the fury spent, anon
    Did this break from her: "Good Antigonus,
    1470Since Fate -- against thy better disposition --
    Hath made thy person for the thrower-out
    Of my poor babe according to thine oath,
    Places remote enough are in Bohemia.
    There weep, and leave it crying; and for the babe
    1475Is counted lost forever, Perdita
    I prithee call't. For this ungentle business
    Put on thee by my lord, thou never shalt see
    Thy wife Paulina more!" And so, with shrieks
    She melted into air. Affrighted much,
    1480I did in time collect myself and thought
    This was so and no slumber. Dreams are toys,
    Yet for this once, yea superstitiously,
    I will be squared by this. I do believe
    Hermione hath suffered death, and that
    1485Apollo would, this being indeed the issue
    Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid,
    Either for life or death, upon the earth
    Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well!
    [Places the baby and a scroll upon the ground]
    There lie, and there thy character; there these,
    [He lays down a bundle]
    1490Which may, if Fortune please, both breed thee, pretty,
    And still rest thine.
    The storm begins, poor wretch,
    That for thy mother's fault art thus exposed
    To loss and what may follow. Weep I cannot,
    But my heart bleeds, and most accursed am I
    1495To be by oath enjoined to this. Farewell.
    The day frowns more and more. Thou'rt like to have
    A lullaby too rough. I never saw
    The heavens so dim by day.
    [The sound of a storm, with horns and dogs barking]
    A savage clamor!
    Well may I get aboard! This is the chase.
    1500I am gone forever!
    Exit pursued by a bear.
    [Enter Old Shepherd]
    I would there were no age between ten and three and twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest, for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, 1505fighting -- hark you now! Would any but these boiled-brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my best sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find then the master. If anywhere I have them, 'tis by the seaside, 1510browsing of ivy. Good luck, an't be thy will! What have we here? [Seeing the baby] Mercy on's, a bairn? A very pretty bairn! A boy or a child I wonder? A pretty one, a very pretty one, sure some scape. Though I am not bookish, yet I can read waiting-gentlewoman in the scape. This has 1515been some stair-work, some trunk-work, some behind-door work. They were warmer that got this than the poor thing is here. I'll take it up for pity, yet I'll tarry till my son come. He hallooed but even now. Whoa-ho-hoa!
    1520Enter Clown
    Hilloa, loa!
    What? Art so near? If thou'lt see a thing to talk on when thou art dead and rotten, come hither. What ailst thou, man?
    I have seen two such sights by sea and by land, but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is now the sky; betwixt the firmament and it you cannot thrust a bodkin's point.
    Why, boy, how is it?
    I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the shore, but that's not to the point. Oh, the most piteous cry of the poor souls, sometimes to see 'em, and not to see 'em. Now the ship boring the moon with her main mast, and anon swallowed 1535with yeast and froth, as you'd thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land-service, to see how the bear tore out his shoulderbone, how he cried to me for help, and said his name was Antigonus, a nobleman. But to make an end of the ship, to see how the sea 1540flap-dragoned it. But first, how the poor souls roared and the sea mocked them, and how the poor gentleman roared and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than the sea or weather.
    Name of mercy, when was this, boy?
    Now, now. I have not winked since I saw these sights. The men are not yet cold under water, nor the bear half dined on the gentleman; he's at it now.
    Would I had been by to have helped the old man.
    I would you had been by the ship side, to have helped her. There your charity would have lacked footing.
    Heavy matters, heavy matters. But look thee here, boy. Now bless thyself. Thou meet'st with things dying, I with things newborn. Here's a sight for thee! 1555Look thee, a bearing-cloth for a squire's child. Look thee here. Take up, take up, boy. Open't! So, let's see, it was told me I should be rich by the fairies. This is some changeling. Open't! What's within, boy?
    [Opens box] You're a made old man. If the sins of your 1560youth are forgiven you, you're well to live. Gold, all gold.
    This is fairy gold boy, and 'twill prove so. Up with't, keep it close. Home, home, the next way. We are lucky, boy, and to be so still requires nothing but 1565secrecy. Let my sheep go. Come, good boy, the next way home.
    Go you the next way with your findings. I'll go see if the bear be gone from the gentleman and how much he hath eaten. They are never curst but when they 1570are hungry. If there be any of him left, I'll bury it.
    That's a good deed. If thou mayst discern by that which is left of him what he is, fetch me to th'sight of him.
    'Marry, will I, and you shall help to put him 1575i'th' ground.
    'Tis a lucky day, boy, and we'll do good deeds on't.