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The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale Translation Act 2, Scene 3

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Enter LEONTES, ANTIGONUS, lords, and servants

LEONTES

Nor night nor day no rest: it is but weakness To bear the matter thus; mere weakness. If The cause were not in being,—part o' the cause, She the adulteress; for the harlot king Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she I can hook to me: say that she were gone, Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest Might come to me again. Who's there?

LEONTES

Night and day I get no rest. I'm handling this the way I am because I'm weak, just weak. If only the problem weren't her as a person—I can't isolate the problem or cut it out, because it's her; she's unfaithful. Polixenes is beyond my reach, out of sight and out of mind, irrelevant. But Hermione is here and within my power. If she died, say, in a fire, I might be able to sleep at night. Who's there?

FIRST SERVANT

My lord?

FIRST SERVANT

Yes, sir?

LEONTES

How does the boy?

LEONTES

How's Mamillius doing?

FIRST SERVANT

He took good rest to-night;'Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.

FIRST SERVANT

He slept well tonight. We're hoping he's gotten through his illness.

LEONTES

To see his nobleness! Conceiving the dishonour of his mother, He straight declined, droop'd, took it deeply, Fasten'd and fix'd the shame on't in himself, Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep, And downright languish'd. Leave me solely: go, See how he fares. [Exit Servant] Fie, fie! no thought of him: The thought of my revenges that way Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty, And in his parties, his alliance; let him be Until a time may serve: for present vengeance, Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow: They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor Shall she within my power.

LEONTES

It's hard to see him like this! He got sick when he realized his mother is disgraced. He took it hard, as if her shame were his own personal burden. He stopped smiling, eating, and sleeping and then became bedridden. Leave me alone; go see how he's doing. [The SERVANT leaves]

[To himself] Shame on you! Don't think about Polixenes—you can't take revenge on him now without putting yourself in danger. He's too powerful; he has too many friends and allies. Leave him alone until the right moment. Right now, just take your revenge on Hermione. Camillo and Polixenes are laughing at me; my suffering is a huge joke to them. They wouldn't be laughing if I could get to them—and she definitely won't, since she's within my power.

Enter PAULINA, with a child

FIRST LORD

You must not enter.

FIRST LORD

You can't come in here.

PAULINA

Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me:Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,Than the queen's life? a gracious innocent soul,More free than he is jealous.

PAULINA

No, listen, men, follow my lead. Do you care more about what this crazy, tyrant king thinks of you than you do about the queen's life? She's incredibly gracious and innocent, and he's just jealous.

ANTIGONUS

That's enough.

ANTIGONUS

That's enough.

SECOND SERVANT

Madam, he hath not slept tonight; commandedNone should come at him.

SECOND SERVANT

Ma'am, he hasn't slept tonight, and he demanded that no one be allowed into his room.

PAULINA

Not so hot, good sir: I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you, That creep like shadows by him and do sigh At each his needless heavings, such as you Nourish the cause of his awaking: I Do come with words as medicinal as true, Honest as either, to purge him of that humour That presses him from sleep.

PAULINA

Not so fast, sir; I came to help him get to sleep. It's people like you, yes-men who encourage his delusional fantasies, that are keeping him awake. I came to tell him something so true that it'll work like medicine—my honesty will cure the disease that keeps him from sleeping.

LEONTES

What noise there, ho?

LEONTES

Hey, what's that noise?

PAULINA

No noise, my lord; but needful conferenceAbout some gossips for your highness.

PAULINA

It's not just noise, sir, it's an important discussion about godparents for you.

LEONTES

How!Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,I charged thee that she should not come about me:I knew she would.

LEONTES

What? Get this ridiculous woman out of here. 

[To ANTIGONUS] Antigonus, I told you not to let her get to me. I knew she would.

ANTIGONUS

I told her so, my lord,On your displeasure's peril and on mine,She should not visit you.

ANTIGONUS

Sir, I told her not to come near you, and explained that you (and I) would both be angry with her if she did.

LEONTES

What, canst not rule her?

LEONTES

Oh, so you're not the boss of her?

PAULINA

From all dishonesty he can: in this,Unless he take the course that you have done,Commit me for committing honour, trust it,He shall not rule me.

PAULINA

He can tell me not to do something that's wrong, but right now I'm doing the right thing. Unless he follows your example and locks me up for doing good, he can't be the boss of me.

ANTIGONUS

La you now, you hear:When she will take the rein I let her run;But she'll not stumble.

ANTIGONUS

Ha, listen to that! She's like a galloping horse—once she gets it into her head, I have to let her go.

PAULINA

Good my liege, I come; And, I beseech you, hear me, who profess Myself your loyal servant, your physician, Your most obedient counsellor, yet that dare Less appear so in comforting your evils, Than such as most seem yours: I say, I come From your good queen.

PAULINA

Sir, I came to ask you to listen to me as your loyal servant, your doctor, your obedient advisor. I came because I'm bold enough (unlike your other servants, doctors, and advisors) to call you out on your evil actions. I come on behalf of your good queen.

LEONTES

Good queen!

LEONTES

"Good" queen?

PAULINA

Good queen, my lord,Good queen; I say good queen;And would by combat make her good, so were IA man, the worst about you.

PAULINA

Good queen, sir, good queen. I repeat: good queen. If I were a man, I would fight to the death to prove she's good, unlike you.

LEONTES

Force her hence.

LEONTES

Get her out of here!

PAULINA

Let him that makes but trifles of his eyesFirst hand me: on mine own accord I'll off;But first I'll do my errand. The good queen,For she is good, hath brought you forth a daughter;Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing.

PAULINA

If you want your eyes scratched out, then come at me. I'll leave on my own, but first I have to do what I came for. The good queen (because she is good) has given birth to your daughter. Here she is, now give her your blessing.

Laying down the child

LEONTES

Out!A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o' door:A most intelligencing bawd!

LEONTES

Get out! You manly witch! Take her away, out the door! That damn busybody!

PAULINA

Not so:I am as ignorant in that as youIn so entitling me, and no less honestThan you are mad; which is enough, I'll warrant,As this world goes, to pass for honest.

PAULINA

Nah, none of those names suits me at all. I'm as honest as you are crazy and, all things considered, that's honest enough for anyone.

LEONTES

Traitors!Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard.Thou dotard! thou art woman-tired, unroostedBy thy dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard;Take't up, I say; give't to thy crone.

LEONTES

[To the gentlemen] Traitors! Why aren't you forcing her out? Give her the bastard.

[To ANTIGONUS] You old fart! Your wife is the boss of you, you're completely whipped! Pick up the bastard. I said pick it up! Give it to your hag of a wife.

PAULINA

For everUnvenerable be thy hands, if thouTakest up the princess by that forced basenessWhich he has put upon't!

PAULINA

If you so much as touch the princess in response to his disgusting words, your hands will be cursed forever.

LEONTES

He dreads his wife.

LEONTES

[To the gentlemen, referring to ANTIGONUS] Look, he's afraid of his wife!

PAULINA

So I would you did; then 'twere past all doubtYou'ld call your children yours.

PAULINA

I wish you feared your wife, too. Then you'd know your children are yours beyond all reasonable doubt.

LEONTES

A nest of traitors!

LEONTES

This place is full of traitors!

ANTIGONUS

I am none, by this good light.

ANTIGONUS

I'm no traitor, sir, I swear.

PAULINA

Nor I, nor any But one that's here, and that's himself, for he The sacred honour of himself, his queen's, His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander, Whose sting is sharper than the sword's; and will not— For, as the case now stands, it is a curse He cannot be compell'd to't—once remove The root of his opinion, which is rotten As ever oak or stone was sound.

PAULINA

Neither am I, and neither is anyone here except for you, Leontes. You're a traitor to yourself, your honor, your queen, your son and heir, and your newborn baby. You've betrayed them all to gossip and rumor, causing a kind of pain that's worse than the physical. At this time, we can't convince him to stop unless we remove the root of the issue: the completely false idea that's rotted his brain.

LEONTES

A callat Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband And now baits me! This brat is none of mine; It is the issue of Polixenes: Hence with it, and together with the dam Commit them to the fire!

LEONTES

Here's a slut who doesn't know when to shut up, who just beat her husband and is now trying to trick me! This brat is not mine, it's Polixenes's. Get it out of here, and throw it and the bitch into the fire!

PAULINA

It is yours; And, might we lay the old proverb to your charge, So like you, 'tis the worse. Behold, my lords, Although the print be little, the whole matter And copy of the father, eye, nose, lip, The trick of's frown, his forehead, nay, the valley, The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek, His smiles, The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger: And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it So like to him that got it, if thou hast The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colours No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does, Her children not her husband's!

PAULINA

She is yours and, as the saying goes, she's like you to a fault. 

[To the gentlemen] Behold, gentlemen. Though she might be a smaller version, she's an exact copy of her father: eyes, nose, mouth, his usual frown, his forehead, the cheek and chin dimples, his smile, the exact shape of his hand, fingers, and nails. Hermione's given birth to her husband's mini-me, and I guarantee you she has no doubt that her children are Leontes's!

LEONTES

A gross hagAnd, lozel, thou art worthy to be hang'd,That wilt not stay her tongue.

LEONTES

You are a disgusting hag.

[To ANTIGONUS] And you're a worthless bum who should be hanged for not shutting her up.

ANTIGONUS

Hang all the husbandsThat cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourselfHardly one subject.

ANTIGONUS

If you hang all the husbands who can't keep their wives quiet, you won't have any subjects left.

LEONTES

Once more, take her hence.

LEONTES

For the last time, get her out of here!

PAULINA

A most unworthy and unnatural lordCan do no more.

PAULINA

A king as despicable and unfit to rule as you can't do much more.

LEONTES

I'll ha' thee burnt.

LEONTES

I'll have you burned to death.

PAULINA

I care not: It is an heretic that makes the fire, Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant; But this most cruel usage of your queen, Not able to produce more accusation Than your own weak-hinged fancy, something savours Of tyranny and will ignoble make you, Yea, scandalous to the world.

PAULINA

I don't care. In that case, the heretic would be the one making the fire, not the one burning in it! I'll stop short of calling you a tyrant, but this cruel treatment of your queen on the basis of nothing more than your unsupported fantasy definitely tastes like tyranny. The world will see you as horrible and scandalous from here on out.

LEONTES

On your allegiance,Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,Where were her life? she durst not call me so,If she did know me one. Away with her!

LEONTES

[To the gentlemen] If you're loyal to me, you better get her out of this room! If I were a tyrant, she would be dead by now. She wouldn't dare to call me that if she actually thought I were one. Take her away!

PAULINA

I pray you, do not push me; I'll be gone. Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours: Jove send her A better guiding spirit! What needs these hands? You, that are thus so tender o'er his follies, Will never do him good, not one of you. So, so: farewell; we are gone.

PAULINA

[To the gentlemen] Please, don't push me, I'll leave. 

[To LEONTES] Sir, take care of you child—since she is yours. May God send her a guardian angel!

[To the gentlemen] Get your hands off me! All of you that are coddling his idiotic behavior: you won't do him any good, not one of you.

[To LEONTES] Well then, goodbye—we're through.

Exit

LEONTES

Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this. My child? away with't! Even thou, that hast A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence And see it instantly consumed with fire; Even thou and none but thou. Take it up straight: Within this hour bring me word 'tis done, And by good testimony, or I'll seize thy life, With what thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so; The bastard brains with these my proper hands Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire; For thou set'st on thy wife.

LEONTES

You traitor, you told your wife to do this. My child? Get it out of here! Since you seem to care so much about it: take it away and watch it burn. I want it to be you and no one else. Do it immediately, and come back within an hour to confirm you've done it. If you're not honest with me about it, I'll execute you and your entire family. If you refuse, you'll have my anger to deal with, plus I'll dash its bastard brains out with my own two hands. Go! Take it to the fire as punishment for what you've made your wife do.

ANTIGONUS

I did not, sir:These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,Can clear me in't.

ANTIGONUS

Sir, I didn't do anything. These gentlemen are my friends and can vouch for me.

LORDS

We can: my royal liege,He is not guilty of her coming hither.

LORDS

We can, your majesty. It's not his fault that she came here.

LEONTES

You're liars all.

LEONTES

You're all liars.

FIRST LORD

Beseech your highness, give us better credit: We have always truly served you, and beseech you So to esteem of us, and on our knees we beg, As recompense of our dear services Past and to come, that you do change this purpose, Which being so horrible, so bloody, must Lead on to some foul issue: we all kneel.

FIRST LORD

Please, your highness, give us more credit than that. We've always served you faithfully. We're begging you on our knees: in recognition of our past and future service to you, listen to us and stop what you're doing right now. It's too horrible, too bloody—and it's going to end badly. Watch us kneel. [All the gentlemen kneel to LEONTES]

LEONTES

I am a feather for each wind that blows: Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel And call me father? better burn it now Than curse it then. But be it; let it live. It shall not neither. You, sir, come you hither; You that have been so tenderly officious With Lady Margery, your midwife there, To save this bastard's life,—for 'tis a bastard, So sure as this beard's grey, —what will you adventure To save this brat's life?

LEONTES

You think my mind will be changed that easily, like a feather carried on the wind? Do you expect me to wait around until this bastard can kneel and call me "father?" It's better to burn it now than to deal with it then. But fine, let it live. I'll neither burn it nor keep it.

[To ANTIGONUS] You! You've been in cahoots with the Wicked Witch, your wife, to save this bastard's life (and it is a bastard, as sure as my beard is gray). What are you willing to do to save this brat's life?

ANTIGONUS

Any thing, my lord,That my ability may undergoAnd nobleness impose: at least thus much:I'll pawn the little blood which I have leftTo save the innocent: any thing possible.

ANTIGONUS

Anything, sir, that I'm capable of doing. I'll lay down my life to save the innocent. I'll do anything that's possible.

LEONTES

It shall be possible. Swear by this swordThou wilt perform my bidding.

LEONTES

Oh, it will be possible. Swear by my sword that you'll do what I say.

ANTIGONUS

I will, my lord.

ANTIGONUS

I will, sir.

LEONTES

Mark and perform it, see'st thou! for the fail Of any point in't shall not only be Death to thyself but to thy lewd-tongued wife, Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee, As thou art liege-man to us, that thou carry This female bastard hence and that thou bear it To some remote and desert place quite out Of our dominions, and that there thou leave it, Without more mercy, to its own protection And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune It came to us, I do in justice charge thee, On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture, That thou commend it strangely to some place Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.

LEONTES

Listen closely and do exactly what I tell you. If you fail at any point, it means death for not only you, but for your horrible wife (who, at least for now, I forgive). I command you as my subject to carry this bastard to some deserted place far away from this country. Leave it there, to the mercy of the elements. It appeared in my life by a stroke of bad luck. Therefore, I command that you, on pain of damnation and death, leave it up to luck whether it lives or dies. Now pick it up.

ANTIGONUS

I swear to do this, though a present death Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe: Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say Casting their savageness aside have done Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous In more than this deed does require! And blessing Against this cruelty fight on thy side, Poor thing, condemn'd to loss!

ANTIGONUS

I'll swear to do this, though it would have been more merciful to just kill it. 

[To the baby] Come on, poor baby. May a guardian angel protect you from vicious animals. They say that wolves and bears sometimes take pity on human babies on nurse them, too.

[To LEONTES] Sir, good luck to you. 

[To the baby] I hope you're protected from everything horrible, you poor thing, even though you're condemned to be lost.

Exit with the child

LEONTES

No, I'll not rearAnother's issue.

LEONTES

Nope, I won't raise someone else's kid.

Enter a Servant

SERVANT

Please your highness, postsFrom those you sent to the oracle are comeAn hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,Hasting to the court.

SERVANT

Your highness? We just got news that the messengers you sent to Delphos are almost back. Cleomenes and Dion just got to the shore and are on their way to court.

FIRST LORD

So please you, sir, their speedHath been beyond account.

FIRST lord

Sir, they've been much speedier than expected.

LEONTES

Twenty-three days They have been absent: 'tis good speed; foretells The great Apollo suddenly will have The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords; Summon a session, that we may arraign Our most disloyal lady, for, as she hath Been publicly accused, so shall she have A just and open trial. While she lives My heart will be a burthen to me. Leave me, And think upon my bidding.

LEONTES

They've been gone for twenty-three days; they've made good time. That bodes well for the truth Apollo will give us soon.

[To the remaining gentlemen] Men, get ready for a special meeting so that we can have a trial for Hermione. Since I've accused her publicly, she should have a just and open trial. As long as she lives, it'll weigh on my heart. Now leave me alone, and go carry out my orders.

Exeunt

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Bailey sincox
About the Translator: Bailey Sincox

Bailey Sincox is a PhD student in English at Harvard University, where she researches the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Her teaching experience includes accessible online courses with edX on Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice. She holds a Master's from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor's from Duke University.