Artboard Created with Sketch. Close Search Dialog
! Error Created with Sketch.

The Winter's Tale

William Shakespeare

Act 4 Scene 2

page Act 4 Scene 2 Page 1

Original Text

Modern Text

Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES.
Bohemia. The palace of POLIXENES


I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate:
’tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to
grant this.


I beg you, Camillo, stop being so persistent. It’s terrible to deny you anything, but it would be death to grant this.


It is sixteen years since I saw my country: though
5I have for the most part been aired abroad, I
desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent
king, my master, hath sent for me; to whose feeling
sorrows I might be some allay, or I o’erween to
think so, which is another spur to my departure.


It’s been sixteen years since I’ve seen my country. Although I’ve lived abroad so long, I want to be buried at home. Besides, my master, the king, regrets his actions and has sent for me. Perhaps I can ease his grief, if I’m not too presumptuous in thinking I might, and that makes my departure all the more urgent.


10As thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of
thy services by leaving me now: the need I have of
thee thine own goodness hath made; better not to
have had thee than thus to want thee: thou, having
made me businesses which none without thee can
15sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute
them thyself or take away with thee the very
services thou hast done; which if I have not enough
considered, as too much I cannot, to be more
thankful to thee shall be my study, and my profit
20therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal
country, Sicilia, prithee speak no more; whose very
naming punishes me with the remembrance of that
penitent, as thou callest him, and reconciled king,
my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen
25and children are even now to be afresh lamented.
Say to me, when sawest thou the Prince Florizel, my
son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not
being gracious, than they are in losing them when
they have approved their virtues.


If you love me, Camillo, don’t renounce the rest of your service to me by leaving me now. It’s your own excellence that makes me need you so much. It would have been better not to have known you at all than to miss you. Since you’ve managed matters here in a way that no one can do without you, you must either stay and see them through or take them with you. If I haven’t been thankful enough—and I can’t be too thankful—I’ll apply myself to it even more and find my profit in your great friendship. Please don’t speak of that deadly country, Sicilia, anymore. Its very name hurts by making me remember that remorseful—as you call him—and reconciled king, whose loss of his precious queen and children should be mourned anew even now. Tell me, when did you last see my son, Prince Florizel? Kings are just as unhappy when their children are not virtuous as when they lose them after they’ve proved their virtues.