Richard III

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 9

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RICHARD

I would they were, that I might die at once,
For now they kill me with a living death.
Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears,
Shamed their aspect with store of childish drops.
160These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear—
No, when my father York and Edward wept
To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made
When black-faced Clifford shook his sword at him;
Nor when thy warlike father, like a child,
165Told the sad story of my father’s death
And twenty times made pause to sob and weep,
That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks
Like trees bedashed with rain—in that sad time,
My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear;
170And what these sorrows could not thence exhale
Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping.
I never sued to friend, nor enemy;
My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word.
But now thy beauty is proposed my fee,
175My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.

RICHARD

I wish they were, so that I could die right now, because, at this point, I live a living death. Your eyes have made me cry, shamefully, like a child. I never cried before this. I didn’t cry when my father, York, and my brother Edward both wept at the death of my brother Rutland, whom Clifford slaughtered. And when your warrior-father recounted the sad story of my father’s death, pausing to sob twenty times in the course of the story so that all the bystanders ended up dripping tears like trees in a rainstorm—even then, I refused to cry. But your beauty has made me cry until I couldn’t see. I never tried to win over a friend or enemy with sweet words. I’m too proud for that. But if your beauty is the reward for sweet talk, I’ll talk.
She looks scornfully at him
ANNE looks at him with disgust.
Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it were made
For kissing, lady, not for such contempt.
If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive,
Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword,
180Which if thou please to hide in this true breast
And let the soul forth that adoreth thee,
I lay it naked to the deadly stroke
And humbly beg the death upon my knee.
Don’t curl your lips in scorn. They were made for kissing, not for contempt. If your vengeful heart can’t forgive me, here—take my sword and bury it in my heart so that my soul, which adores you, can be free. I open myself to being stabbed. In fact, I beg for death on my knees.
He kneels and lays his breast open; she offers at it with his sword
He opens his shirt to expose his chest, and she points the sword toward it.
Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry—
185But ’twas thy beauty that provokèd me.
Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabbed young Edward—
But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.
No, don’t pause, because I did kill King Henry, though it was your beauty that made me do it. Go ahead. And it was me who stabbed young Edward, though it was your heavenly face that set me to work.