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The Taming of the Shrew

The Taming of the Shrew Translation Induction, Scene 2

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Enter aloft SLY, the drunkard, with Attendants, some with apparel, others with basin and ewer and other appurtenances, and LORD dressed as an attendant.

SLY

For God’s sake, a pot of small ale.

SLY

For God's sake, someone bring me a mug of cheap beer.

FIRST SERVANT

Will ’t please your Lordship drink a cup of sack?

FIRST SERVANT

Would your Lordship like to drink a cup of Spanish wine?

SECOND SERVANT

Will ’t please your Honor taste of these conserves?

SECOND SERVANT

Would your Honor like to try this dried fruit?

THIRD SERVANT

What raiment will your Honor wear today?

THIRD SERVANT

What outfit will your Honor wear today?

SLY

I am Christophero Sly. Call not me “Honor” nor “Lordship.” I ne'er drank sack in my life. An if you give me any conserves, give me conserves of beef. Ne'er ask me what raiment I’ll wear, for I have no more doublets than backs, no more stockings than legs, nor nomore shoes than feet, nay sometime more feet than shoes, or such shoes as my toes look through the over-leather.

SLY

I am Christopher Sly. Don't call me your "Honor" or your "Lordship." I've never drunk Spanish wine in my life. And if you give me anything "preserved," give me some salted beef. Don't bother asking what "outfit" I'll wear, for I have no more jackets than I do backs, no more stockings than I have legs, and no more shoes than I have feet. Sometimes I even have more feet than shoes, unless the ones where my toes stick out count as shoes.

LORD

Heaven cease this idle humor in your Honor! Oh, that a mighty man of such descent, Of such possessions and so high esteem, Should be infusèd with so foul a spirit!

LORD

May God end this foolish fantasy in your Honor's mind! Alas, that a mighty man of such noble birth, with so much wealth and such a good reputation, should be infected with such a terrible illness!

SLY

What, would you make me mad? Am not I Christopher Sly, old Sly’s son of Burton Heath, by birth a peddler, by education a cardmaker, by transmutation a bearherd, and now by present profession a tinker? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat alewife of Wincot, if she know me not! If she say I am not fourteen pence on the score for sheer ale, score me up for the lying’st knave in Christendom. What!I am not bestraught! Here’s—

SLY

What, are you trying to make me go crazy? Aren't I Christopher Sly, son of old Sly from Barton-on-the-Heath, a peddler by birth, trained to be a cardmaker, who then became a bear keeper, and now a pot-mender? Ask Marian Hacket, the fat innkeeper in Wincot, if she knows me! If she doesn't tell you about the tab I've run up—fourteen pence on beer alone—then you can call me the biggest liar in God's kingdom. What! I'm not crazy! Here's—

THIRD SERVANT

O, this it is that makes your lady mourn!

THIRD SERVANT

Oh, it's this that makes your wife mourn!

SECOND SERVANT

O, this is it that makes your servants droop!

SECOND SERVANT

Oh, it's this that makes your servants hang their heads in sorrow!

LORD

Hence comes it that your kindred shuns your house, As beaten hence by your strange lunacy. O noble lord, bethink thee of thy birth, Call home thy ancient thoughts from banishment, And banish hence these abject lowly dreams. Look how thy servants do attend on thee, Each in his office ready at thy beck. Wilt thou have music? Hark! Apollo plays,

LORD

And this is why your relatives avoid your house, as if beaten away by your strange insanity. Oh noble lord, remember your lineage, call back the thoughts of your former state of mind, and banish these worthless, lowly fantasies. Look how your servants attend to you, each one ready to obey your every request. Do you want music? Listen! Apollo, god of music, plays for you.

Music

And twenty cagèd nightingales do sing: Or wilt thou sleep? We’ll have thee to a couch Softer and sweeter than the lustful bed On purpose trimmed up for Semiramis. Say thou wilt walk, we will bestrew the ground. Or wilt thou ride? Thy horses shall be trapped, Their harness studded all with gold and pearl. Dost thou love hawking? Thou hast hawks will soar Above the morning lark. Or wilt thou hunt? Thy hounds shall make the welkin answer them And fetch shrill echoes from the hollow earth.

And twenty caged nightingales sing along. Or do you want to sleep? We'll bring you to a couch that's softer and more fragrant than the lustful bed of Semiramis. Say you want to walk, and we'll strew the ground with flowers. Or do you want to ride? Your horses will be made ready, their harnesses studded with gold and pearls. Do you like hawking? You have hawks that can soar higher than the morning lark. Or do you want to hunt? Your hounds will make the heavens and earth echo with their barks.

FIRST SERVANT

Say thou wilt course. Thy greyhounds are as swiftAs breathed stags, ay, fleeter than the roe.

FIRST SERVANT

Say you want to hunt rabbits. Your greyhounds are as swift as healthy stags, yes, and quicker than young deer.

SECOND SERVANT

Dost thou love pictures? We will fetch thee straight Adonis painted by a running brook And Cytherea all in sedges hid, Which seem to move and wanton with her breath, Even as the waving sedges play with wind.

SECOND SERVANT

Do you like pictures? We'll instantly fetch you one of Adonis next to a running brook, with Venus hidden in the rushes and spying on him. The rushes seem to move seductively with her sighs, just like real grass swaying in the wind.

LORD

We’ll show thee Io as she was a maidAnd how she was beguileèd and surprised,As lively painted as the deed was done.

LORD

We'll show you one of Io as a maid, just as Jupiter tricks and surprises her. The painting seems alive, it's so realistic.

THIRD SERVANT

Or Daphne roaming through a thorny wood, Scratching her legs that one shall swear she bleeds, And at that sight shall sad Apollo weep, So workmanly the blood and tears are drawn.

THIRD SERVANT

Or one of Daphne running through a thorny wood, her legs scratched up and Apollo weeping at that sad sight. The blood and tears are drawn so well you'll swear that they're real.

LORD

Thou art a lord, and nothing but a lord. Thou hast a lady far more beautifulThan any woman in this waning age.

LORD

You are a lord, and nothing less than a lord. You have a wife who is far more beautiful than any other woman in this declining age.

FIRST SERVANT

And till the tears that she hath shed for theeLike envious floods o'errun her lovely face,She was the fairest creature in the world— And yet she is inferior to none.

FIRST SERVANT

Before the tears began running all down her face over you, she was the fairest creature in the world—and still she has no equal.

SLY

Am I a lord, and have I such a lady? Or do I dream? Or have I dreamed till now? I do not sleep: I see, I hear, I speak. I smell sweet savors and I feel soft things. Upon my life, I am a lord indeed And not a tinker, nor Christopher Sly. Well, bring our lady hither to our sight, And once again, a pot o' the smallest ale.

SLY

Am I a lord? Do I have such a lady? Or am I dreaming? Or have I been dreaming until now? I'm not asleep: I can see, and hear, and speak. I can smell sweet aromas and feel soft things. I swear, I must be a lord indeed! I'm not a tinker, and I'm not Christopher Sly. Well, bring my lady here before me, and I'll ask again, bring me a mug of the cheapest beer.

SECOND SERVANT

Will ’t please your Mightiness to wash your hands? O, how we joy to see your wit restored! O, that once more you knew but what you are! These fifteen years you have been in a dream Or, when you waked, so waked as if you slept.

SECOND SERVANT

Would your greatness like to wash your hands? Oh, how overjoyed we are to see your sanity restored! Oh, if only you could better remember who you are! These past fifteen years you've been living in a dream. Even when you were awake, it was as if you slept.

SLY

These fifteen years! By my fay, a goodly nap. But did I never speak of all that time?

SLY

Fifteen years! By God, that's quite a nap. But did I not speak that entire time?

FIRST SERVANT

O, yes, my lord, but very idle words. For though you lay here in this goodly chamber, Yet would you say ye were beaten out of door; And rail upon the hostess of the house, And say you would present her at the leet, Because she brought stone jugs and no sealed quarts. Sometimes you would call out for Cicely Hacket.

FIRST SERVANT

Oh yes, my lord, but only complete nonsense. Even though you were lying here in this nice room, you would talk as if you'd been thrown out of a tavern, and you'd curse at the tavern's hostess, and swear you would take her to court for cheating you out of liquor. Sometimes you would call out for Cicely Hacket.

SLY

Ay, the woman’s maid of the house.

SLY

Yes, the hostess's maid.

THIRD SERVANT

Why, sir, you know no house nor no such maid, Nor no such men as you have reckoned up, As Stephen Sly and old John Naps of Greece, And Peter Turph and Henry Pimpernell, And twenty more such names and men as these, Which never were, nor no man ever saw.

THIRD SERVANT

But sir, you don't know any such house or any such maid, or any of the men you dreamed up, like Stephen Sly and Old John Naps of Greet, and Peter Turph and Henry Pimpernell, and twenty more names like this—men who never existed.

SLY

Now Lord be thanked for my good amends!

SLY

Thank the Lord for my recovery!

ALL

Amen.

ALL

Amen.

SLY

I thank thee. Thou shalt not lose by it.

SLY

Thank you all. You won't regret my return.

Enter the PAGE as a lady, with attendants

PAGE

How fares my noble lord?

PAGE

How is my noble lord doing?

SLY

Marry, I fare well,For here is cheer enough. Where is my wife?

SLY

Well, I'm doing well. Everything's quite nice around here. Where is my wife?

PAGE

Here, noble lord. What is thy will with her?

PAGE

Here, noble lord. What do you wish of her?

SLY

Are you my wife and will not call me “husband”?My men should call me “lord.” I am your goodman.

SLY

You say you're my wife, but you won't call me your husband? My men should call me "lord," not you. I am your husband, your fellow.

PAGE

My husband and my lord, my lord and husband,I am your wife in all obedience.

PAGE

You are my husband and my lord, my lord and my husband, and I am your obedient wife.

SLY

I know it well.—What must I call her?

SLY

I know it now.—

[To the LORD] What should I call her?

LORD

“Madam.”

LORD

"Madam."

SLY

“Alice Madam,” or “Joan Madam”?

SLY

"Madam Alice," or "Madam Joan?" What's her first name?

LORD

“Madam,” and nothing else. So lords call ladies.

LORD

Just "madam," and nothing else. That's what lords call their ladies.

SLY

Madam wife, they say that I have dreamedAnd slept above some fifteen year or more.

SLY

Madam wife, they say that I've been dreaming or asleep for fifteen years or more.

PAGE

Ay, and the time seems thirty unto me,Being all this time abandoned from your bed.

PAGE

Yes, and it seemed like thirty years to me, as I've been banished from your bed this whole time.

SLY

'Tis much.—Servants, leave me and her alone.Madam, undress you and come now to bed.

SLY

That's a lot.—Servants, leave me and her alone.—Madam, undress and come to bed.

PAGE

Thrice noble lord, let me entreat of you To pardon me yet for a night or two, Or if not so, until the sun be set. For your physicians have expressly charged, In peril to incur your former malady, That I should yet absent me from your bed. I hope this reason stands for my excuse.

PAGE

Noble lord, I ask you to pardon me for another night or two, or at least wait until nightfall. Your doctors have expressly ordered me not to sleep with you, as otherwise you might be in danger of a relapse of your illness. I hope this reason will stand as my excuse.

SLY

Ay, it stands so that I may hardly tarry so long. But Iwould be loath to fall into my dreams again. I will therefore tarry in despite of the flesh and the blood.

SLY

Well, something's standing up and making it so I can hardly wait that long. But I would hate to fall back into my dreams. I'll wait, despite my flesh and blood.

Enter a MESSENGER

MESSENGER

Your Honor’s players, hearing your amendment, Are come to play a pleasant comedy, For so your doctors hold it very meet, Seeing too much sadness hath congealed your blood, And melancholy is the nurse of frenzy. Therefore they thought it good you hear a play And frame your mind to mirth and merriment, Which bars a thousand harms and lengthens life.

MESSENGER

Your Honor's actors heard about your recovery and have come to perform a pleasant comedy for you. Your doctors approve of this, as too much sadness has made your blood congeal, and melancholy can lead to more insanity. So they think it would be good for you to watch a play and direct your thoughts toward laughter and joy—both of which can prevent a thousand illnesses and lengthen your life.

SLY

Marry, I will. Let them play it. Is not a comonty aChristmas gambold or a tumbling-trick?

SLY

Well, I will then. Let them perform it. But what's a "comonty?" Isn't it a Christmas dance, or some acrobatic trick?

PAGE

No, my good lord, it is more pleasing stuff.

PAGE

No, my good lord, it is more pleasing stuff than that.

SLY

What, household stuff?

SLY

What, stuff from a house?

PAGE

It is a kind of history.

PAGE

It's a kind of story.

SLY

Well, we’ll see ’t. Come, madam wife, sit by my side and let the world slip. We shall ne'er be younger.

SLY

Well, let's watch it. Come, madam wife, sit by my side. Forget about the world. We aren't getting any younger.

They sit

The taming of the shrew
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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.