The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

PORTIA

Thus hath the candle singed the moth.
80O these deliberate fools! When they do choose,
They have the wisdom by their wit to lose.

PORTIA

These men are like moths, drawn to these boxes as if they were flames. This is how the candle burned the moth. Oh, these fools! When they choose, they only know how to lose.

NERISSA

The ancient saying is no heresy.
Hanging and wiving goes by destiny.

NERISSA

You know what they say. Destiny chooses when you’ll die and who you’ll marry.

PORTIA

Come, draw the curtain, Nerissa.

PORTIA

Come on, close the curtain, Nerissa.
Enter MESSENGER
A MESSENGER enters.

messenger

85Where is my lady?

MESSENGER

Where’s lady Portia?

PORTIA

    Here. What would my lord?

PORTIA

Here. How can I help you, sir?

MESSENGER

Madam, there is alighted at your gate
A young Venetian, one that comes before
To signify th' approaching of his lord,
From whom he bringeth sensible regreets,
90To wit—besides commends and courteous breath—
Gifts of rich value. Yet I have not seen
So likely an ambassador of love.
A day in April never came so sweet
To show how costly summer was at hand,
95As this forespurrer comes before his lord.

MESSENGER

Madam, a young Venetian man has arrived to tell us his master is about to arrive. This lord has sent gifts. Besides his nice polite greetings, his gifts are expensive. I haven’t seen such a promising candidate for your love. This servant has arrived before his master the way a sweet spring day hints about a lush summer. But there’s never been an April day as promising as this.

PORTIA

No more, I pray thee. I am half afeard
Thou wilt say anon he is some kin to thee,
Thou spend’st such high-day wit in praising him.—
Come, come, Nerissa, for I long to see
100Quick Cupid’s post that comes so mannerly.

PORTIA

Please don’t tell me any more. I’m almost afraid you’re going to tell me he’s a relative of yours, because you’re going so crazy praising him. Come on, Nerissa, I want to go see this man who’s come so courteously.

NERISSA

Bassanio, Lord Love, if thy will it be!

NERISSA

I hope it’s Bassanio coming to win Portia!
Exeunt
They exit.