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The Two Gentlemen of Verona

William Shakespeare

  Act 3 Scene 1

page Act 3 Scene 1 Page 7

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Exit DUKE
The DUKE exits.

VALENTINE

And why not death rather than living torment?
To die is to be banished from myself,
And Sylvia is myself. Banished from her
Is self from self—a deadly banishment!
175What light is light, if Sylvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Sylvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection.
Except I be by Sylvia in the night,
180There is no music in the nightingale;
Unless I look on Sylvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon.
She is my essence, and I leave to be
If I be not by her fair influence
185Fostered, illumined, cherished, kept alive.
I fly not death, to fly his deadly doom;
Tarry I here, I but attend on death,
But, fly I hence, I fly away from life.

VALENTINE

Why not death instead of being tortured alive? To die is to be banished from myself, and Sylvia is my very being. Being banished from her is like being banished from myself—a deadly banishment! What good is light if I can’t see Sylvia? What joy is joy if Sylvia isn’t nearby? Unless I can be happy to think she is near and live on the mere thought of her perfection. Unless I can be near Sylvia in the night, there is no music in the nightingale’s singing. Unless I can look on Sylvia in the day, the day doesn’t even exist. She is my essence, and I’ll cease to exist if I’m not cared for, shined upon, valued, and kept alive by her gentle power. I don’t run from death if I run from the duke’s deadly threats. If I stay here, I am just waiting for death, but if I flee this place, then I flee from life itself.
Enter PROTEUS and LANCE
PROTEUS and LANCE enter.

PROTEUS

Run, boy, run, run, and seek him out.

PROTEUS

Run, boy, run, run, and find him.

LANCE

190So-ho, so-ho!

LANCE

I found him! I found him!

PROTEUS

What seest thou?

PROTEUS

What do you see?

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