Original Text

Modern Text

O for my sake do you with Fortune chide,
The guilty goddess of my harmful deeds,
That did not better for my life provide
Than public means which public manners breeds.
Thence comes it that my name receives a brand,
And almost thence my nature is subdued
To what it works in, like the dyer’s hand:
Pity me then, and wish I were renewed,
Whilst like a willing patient I will drink
Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection;
No bitterness that I will bitter think,
Nor double penance, to correct correction.
  Pity me then, dear friend, and I assure ye,
  Ev'n that your pity is enough to cure me.
I know you curse my bad luck for having no better way to make a living than in front of the


The speaker’s reference to his public profession is usually interpreted as referring to Shakespeare’s profession as an actor.

, which has had a bad effect on my morals and behavior. This is why I have a bad name, and coming into contact with the public so much has polluted my very nature, just like a cloth-dyer’s hand becomes stained with his dye. So take pity on me and hope that I can go back to being the way I would have been if I hadn’t been contaminated by the public; meanwhile, I’ll drink bitter medicines made of vinegar to cure myself of this infection. I won’t think that the medicine’s bitter no matter how bitter it is, nor will I protest at having to do double penance to try to undo the bad influence. So pity me, dear friend, and I assure you: Your pity alone is enough to cure me.

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