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  Act 1 Scene 3

page Act 1 Scene 3 Page 7

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Norfolk, for thee remains a heavier doom,
Which I with some unwillingness pronounce:
150The sly slow hours shall not determinate
The dateless limit of thy dear exile;
The hopeless word of ‘never to return’
Breathe I against thee, upon pain of life.


Norfolk, I reluctantly must give you a harsher sentence. Your absence won’t be marked by a certain number of hours. I must banish you for life.


A heavy sentence, my most sovereign liege,
155And all unlook’d for from your highness’ mouth:
A dearer merit, not so deep a maim
As to be cast forth in the common air,
Have I deserved at your highness’ hands.
The language I have learn’d these forty years,
160My native English, now I must forego:
And now my tongue’s use is to me no more
Than an unstringed viol or a harp,
Or like a cunning instrument cased up,
Or, being open, put into his hands
165That knows no touch to tune the harmony:
Within my mouth you have engaol’d my tongue,
Doubly portcullis’d with my teeth and lips;
And dull unfeeling barren ignorance
Is made my gaoler to attend on me.
170I am too old to fawn upon a nurse,
Too far in years to be a pupil now:
What is thy sentence then but speechless death,
Which robs my tongue from breathing native breath?


It’s a heavy sentence, my lord, and I didn’t expect to hear you say that. I deserved to be rewarded, not punished so harshly with exile. I’ll have to abandon my native English language, which I’ve spoken for forty years. My tongue will be of as little use as a broken violin. You’ve imprisoned it, and ignorance will be my jailer. I’m too old to learn anything new. You’ve sentenced me to die in silence.

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