The Winter's Tale

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

So stands this squire
Officed with me: we two will walk, my lord,
And leave you to your graver steps. Hermione,
How thou lovest us, show in our brother’s welcome;
210Let what is dear in Sicily be cheap:
Next to thyself and my young rover, he’s
Apparent to my heart.
This young squire here does the same for me. He and I will walk along, my lord, and leave you to your slower steps. Hermione, show how much you love us in how you entertain our brother. Give him whatever he wants, no matter how expensive. After you and my young son, he’s dearest to me.
If you would seek us,
We are yours i’ the garden: shall’s attend you there?
If you are looking for us, we’ll be in the garden. Should we wait for you there?
215To your own bents dispose you: you’ll be found,
Be you beneath the sky.
I am angling now,
Though you perceive me not how I give line.
220Go to, go to!
How she holds up the neb, the bill to him!
And arms her with the boldness of a wife
To her allowing husband!
Do whatever pleases you. I’ll find you, if you are anywhere under the sky.
I’m fishing now, though no one sees how I set the line. Go on! Look how she holds up her nose and mouth to him, as if to be kissed. She acts with the boldness of a wife toward her husband!
Exeunt POLIXENES, HERMIONE, and Attendants
POLIXENES, HERMIONE, and attendants exit.
Gone already!
225Inch-thick, knee-deep, o’er head and
ears a fork’d one!
Go, play, boy, play: thy mother plays, and I
Play too, but so disgraced a part, whose issue
Will hiss me to my grave: contempt and clamour
230Will be my knell. Go, play, boy, play.
There have been,
Or I am much deceived, cuckolds ere now;
And many a man there is, even at this present,
Now while I speak this, holds his wife by the arm,
235That little thinks she has been sluiced in’s absence
And his pond fish’d by his next neighbour, by
Sir Smile, his neighbour: nay, there’s comfort in’t
Whiles other men have gates and those gates open’d,
As mine, against their will. Should all despair
240That have revolted wives, the tenth of mankind
Would hang themselves. Physic for’t there is none;
It is a bawdy planet, that will strike
Where ’tis predominant; and ’tis powerful, think it,
From east, west, north and south: be it concluded,
245No barricado for a belly; know’t;
It will let in and out the enemy
With bag and baggage: many thousand on’s
Have the disease, and feel’t not. How now, boy!
Gone already! A little here, knee deep there, then grow horns over my head and behind my ears! Go, boy, play. Your mother plays around, and I play a role, though my part is one of a disgrace, with the result that I’ll be hissed on my way to the grave, with contempt as my funeral bells. Go play, boy, play. Unless I’m mistaken, there have been cuckolds before. Even now, as I speak, there is many a man who may hold his wife by the arm without suspecting that she has been unfaithful in his absence, and his neighbor, call him Sir Smile, has been with the woman that belongs to him. There’s comfort in the fact that other men have had wives and those wives have been unfaithful, as mine has, against their will. If everyone whose wife strayed were to despair, a tenth of mankind would hang themselves. There’s no remedy for it, since it is a world full of lust, from east to west and north and south. There’s no barricade you can build around the womb, and one’s enemy will go in and out as he pleases. Thousands of us have the disease and don’t know it. What now, boy?

More Help

From the SparkNotes Blog