The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

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POLIXENES
We were, fair queen,
Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
80And to be boy eternal.
POLIXENES
We were, fair queen, two young boys who thought that tomorrow would be just like today, and that we would be boys forever.
HERMIONE
Was not my lord
The verier wag o’ the two?
HERMIONE
Was my husband the bigger prankster of you two?
POLIXENES
We were as twinn’d lambs that did frisk i’ the sun,
And bleat the one at the other: what we changed
85Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream’d
That any did. Had we pursued that life,
And our weak spirits ne’er been higher rear’d
With stronger blood, we should have answer’d heaven
90Boldly ‘not guilty;’ the imposition clear’d
Hereditary ours.
POLIXENES
We were like two lambs that played in the sun and bleated at one another. We were wholly innocent. We didn’t know what it was to do harm, or even that anyone did. Had we continued this way, and had our weak spirits never given way to stronger passions, we could have said upon reaching Heaven that we were “not guilty,” and we would have been cleared even of

original sin

The doctrine that all people are born tainted by sin because the first humans, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God.

original sin
.
HERMIONE
By this we gather
You have tripp’d since.
HERMIONE
I take it that you have not been so innocent since?
POLIXENES
O my most sacred lady!
95Temptations have since then been born to’s; for
In those unfledged days was my wife a girl;
Your precious self had then not cross’d the eyes
Of my young play-fellow.
POLIXENES
Most sacred lady! We’ve had our temptations since then. In those youthful days my wife was just a girl, and my playfellow had not yet seen you.
HERMIONE
Grace to boot!
100Of this make no conclusion, lest you say
Your queen and I are devils: yet go on;
The offences we have made you do we’ll answer,
If you first sinn’d with us and that with us
You did continue fault and that you slipp’d not
105With any but with us.
HERMIONE
Heaven help me! Don’t pursue that train of thought, or you’ll go on to say that your wife and I are devils. Still, keep going. We’ll take responsibility for whatever sins we’ve made you commit, as long as those sins were committed first with us, only with us, and you’ve never sinned with any other.

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