The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

  Act 4 Scene 4

page Act 4 Scene 4 Page 5

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POLIXENES

105Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean: so, over that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
110A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race: this is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature.

POLIXENES

Perhaps that’s true. But any technique used to improve nature is itself made by nature, so any form of artifice that adds to nature is really a natural artifice. You see, sweet maid, we marry a more noble stem to a wild stem, so that a lesser plant produces one that is superior. This is an art that improves nature, or rather changes it, but the art itself is natural.

PERDITA

115So it is.

PERDITA

So it is.

POLIXENES

Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.

POLIXENES

Then fill your garden with gillyflowers, and don’t call them bastards.

PERDITA

I’ll not put
The dibble in earth to set one slip of them;
120No more than were I painted I would wish
This youth should say ’twere well and only therefore
Desire to breed by me. Here’s flowers for you;
Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun
125And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age. You’re very welcome.

PERDITA

I won’t put a shovel in the dirt to plant a single one of them, just as I wouldn’t want this youth here to think I’m attractive and want to sleep with me only because I’m wearing makeup. Here are flowers for you: lavender, mint, savory, marjoram, and the marigold, which sets with the sun and rises with it filled with dew. These are flowers that bloom in the middle of summer, and I think they should be given to men of middle age. You’re very welcome here.
(She gives them flowers.)