The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 4

page Act 4 Scene 4 Page 2

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FLORIZEL

Apprehend
Nothing but jollity. The gods themselves,
30Humbling their deities to love, have taken
The shapes of beasts upon them: Jupiter
Became a bull, and bellow’d; the green Neptune
A ram, and bleated; and the fire-robed god,
Golden Apollo, a poor humble swain,
35As I seem now. Their transformations
Were never for a piece of beauty rarer,
Nor in a way so chaste, since my desires
Run not before mine honour, nor my lusts
Burn hotter than my faith.

FLORIZEL

Imagine only happiness. The gods themselves have taken on the form of beasts when they’re in love. Jupiter became a bull and bellowed; Neptune became a ram and bleated. And the god of the sun, golden Apollo, became a humble shepherd just as I appear today. But their transformations were never for someone so beautiful, and neither were their loves as chaste as mine, because my desires are secondary to my honor, and my faith burns hotter than my lusts.

PERDITA

40O, but, sir,
Your resolution cannot hold, when ’tis
Opposed, as it must be, by the power of the king:
One of these two must be necessities,
Which then will speak, that you must
45change this purpose,
Or I my life.

PERDITA

But sir, your feelings toward me might falter when they are opposed, as they must be, by the power of the king. Then one of the two must happen: either you will change your feelings or I will lose my life.

FLORIZEL

Thou dearest Perdita,
With these forced thoughts, I prithee, darken not
The mirth o’ the feast. Or I’ll be thine, my fair,
50Or not my father’s. For I cannot be
Mine own, nor any thing to any, if
I be not thine. To this I am most constant,
Though destiny say no. Be merry, gentle;
Strangle such thoughts as these with any thing
55That you behold the while. Your guests are coming:
Lift up your countenance, as it were the day
Of celebration of that nuptial which
We two have sworn shall come.

FLORIZEL

Dearest Perdita, don’t let these farfetched thoughts dampen the high-spirits of the feast. I’ll be yours, my fair love, and not my father’s. I can’t be myself, or anything to anyone, if I’m not yours. My feelings won’t change, even if destiny says we are not to be together. Be happy, dearest. Get rid of these thoughts by busying yourself with something else. Your guests are coming. Look happy, as if it were the day we’re getting married, as we’ve sworn we will.