The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

The Shepherd’s cottage.
The Shepherd’s cottage.
These your unusual weeds to each part of you
Do give a life: no shepherdess, but Flora
Peering in April’s front. This your sheep-shearing
Is as a meeting of the petty gods,
5And you the queen on’t.
Your festival clothes give you a new look. No longer a shepherdess, but the goddess of flowers appearing at the beginning of April. Your sheep-shearing is like a meeting of minor gods, and you are the queen of them.
Sir, my gracious lord,
To chide at your extremes it not becomes me:
O, pardon, that I name them! Your high self,
The gracious mark o’ the land, you have obscured
10With a swain’s wearing, and me, poor lowly maid,
Most goddess-like prank’d up: but that our feasts
In every mess have folly and the feeders
Digest it with a custom, I should blush
To see you so attired, swoon, I think,
15To show myself a glass.
My gracious lord, it doesn’t suit me to rebuke you for exaggerations. Oh, pardon me for naming them! You, the one whose charms make him admired by the public, have hidden yourself in rustic clothing, while I, just a poor lowly girl, am made up like a goddess. If there weren’t foolishness at every table during our feasts, and if people weren’t accustomed to such foolishness by now, I’d feel embarrassed to see you dressed like that and would faint to see myself in the mirror.
I bless the time
When my good falcon made her flight across
Thy father’s ground.
I bless the day when my hunting bird flew across your father’s land.
Now Jove afford you cause!
20To me the difference forges dread; your greatness
Hath not been used to fear. Even now I tremble
To think your father, by some accident,
Should pass this way as you did: O, the Fates!
How would he look, to see his work so noble
25Vilely bound up? What would he say? Or how
Should I, in these my borrow’d flaunts, behold
The sternness of his presence?
Now may Jove give you reason to be glad! For me the difference in rank between us fills me with dread, though you in your greatness aren’t used to fear. Even now I tremble to think that your father might by some accident pass this way, like you did. Oh, the Fates! How would he look when he discovered that his noble son was so humbly dressed! What would he say? How should I, in this borrowed finery, look upon his stern presence?