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The Merchant of Venice

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

    Therefore the poet
Did feign that Orpheus drew trees, stones, and floods
Since naught so stockish, hard, and full of rage,
80But music for the time doth change his nature.
The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
85And his affections dark as Erebus.
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
trees, stones, and rivers come to him by playing music. There’s nothing in the world that can resist music. The man who can’t be moved by the harmonious melodies is fit only for treason, violence, and pillage. His soul is as dull as night and dark as the underworld. Nobody like that should be trusted. Pay attention to the music.
Enter PORTIA and NERISSA
PORTIA and NERISSA enter.
PORTIA
That light we see is burning in my hall.
How far that little candle throws his beams!
So shines a good deed in a naughty world.
PORTIA
That light we see is coming from my hall. Look how far that little candle sends its light! That’s the way a good deed shines in a naughty world.
NERISSA
90When the moon shone we did not see the candle.
NERISSA
While the moon was shining we didn’t even notice the candle.
PORTIA
So doth the greater glory dim the less.
A substitute shines brightly as a king
Until a king be by, and then his state
Empties itself, as doth an inland brook
95Into the main of waters. Music, hark.
PORTIA
Well, brighter lights always dim the smaller ones. A governor shines as brightly as a king until a king is near by, and the governor suddenly looks like a nobody. Music, listen!
NERISSA
It is your music, madam, of the house.
NERISSA
It’s your music, madam, from your house.
PORTIA
Nothing is good, I see, without respect.
Methinks it sounds much sweeter than by day.
PORTIA
Now I see that you can’t call anything good except in right context. I think that music sounds much better at night than it does during the day.
NERISSA
Silence bestows that virtue on it, madam.
NERISSA
The night’s silence makes it sound better.
PORTIA
100The crow doth sing as sweetly as the lark
When neither is attended, and I think
The nightingale, if she should sing by day
When every goose is cackling, would be thought
No better a musician than the wren.
105How many things by season seasoned are
To their right praise and true perfection!
Peace! How the moon sleeps with Endymion
And would not be awaked.
PORTIA
The crow sings as well as the lark when no one’s listening. If the nightingale sang during the day, when every goose is honking, nobody would think it sang any better than a wren. How many things in life seem good to us because of when they happen! Quiet now! Look how the moon seems to be sleeping with its lover and can’t be awoken!