The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

FIRST LORD

The higher powers forbid!

FIRST LORD

The gods forbid!

PAULINA

I say she’s dead; I’ll swear’t. If word nor oath
Prevail not, go and see: if you can bring
Tincture or lustre in her lip, her eye,
225Heat outwardly or breath within, I’ll serve you
As I would do the gods. But, O thou tyrant!
Do not repent these things, for they are heavier
Than all thy woes can stir; therefore betake thee
To nothing but despair. A thousand knees
230Ten thousand years together, naked, fasting,
Upon a barren mountain and still winter
In storm perpetual, could not move the gods
To look that way thou wert.

PAULINA

I swear that she is dead. If my word and oath don’t convince you, go look. If you can bring any color or life to her lip or her eye, warm her body or cause her to breathe again, I’ll serve you as I would serve the gods. But, oh, you tyrant! Don’t try to repent now, because all your sorrow won’t change it. All you can do now is despair. If you had ten thousand years to spend naked, on your knees, fasting on a barren, wintry mountain in perpetual storms, the gods wouldn’t take pity on you.

LEONTES

Go on, go on
235Thou canst not speak too much; I have deserved
All tongues to talk their bitterest.

LEONTES

Go on, you can’t say too much. I’ve deserved all the bitterest words people can say.

FIRST LORD

Say no more:
Howe’er the business goes, you have made fault
I’ the boldness of your speech.

FIRST LORD

Don’t say any more. However it happened, you are wrong to speak so boldly.

PAULINA

240I am sorry for’t:
All faults I make, when I shall come to know them,
I do repent. Alas! I have show’d too much
The rashness of a woman: he is touch’d
To the noble heart. What’s gone and what’s past help
245Should be past grief: do not receive affliction
At my petition; I beseech you, rather
Let me be punish’d, that have minded you
Of what you should forget. Now, good my liege
Sir, royal sir, forgive a foolish woman:
250The love I bore your queen—lo, fool again!—
I’ll speak of her no more, nor of your children;
I’ll not remember you of my own lord,
Who is lost too: take your patience to you,
And I’ll say nothing.

PAULINA

I’m sorry for it. I always repent for my faults once I am aware of them. Alas! I have been too rash, and he feels it in his heart. What has happened and can’t be fixed should be past grieving over. Don’t let my words make you feel bad. I beg you, instead, to punish me for reminding you of what you should forget. Now, my good and royal sir, forgive a foolish woman. The love I had for your queen—ah, I’m behaving like a fool again!—I won’t speak about her anymore, or of your children, and I won’t remind you of my husband, who is gone, too. Be patient, and I’ll be quiet.