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The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale Translation Act 3, Scene 3

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Enter ANTIGONUS with a Child, and a MARINER

ANTIGONUS

Thou art perfect then, our ship hath touch'd uponThe deserts of Bohemia?

ANTIGONUS

So you're sure we've arrived in Bohemia?

MARINER

Ay, my lord: and fear We have landed in ill time: the skies look grimly And threaten present blusters. In my conscience, The heavens with that we have in hand are angry And frown upon's.

MARINER (SAILoR)

Yes, sir, and I'm afraid we've arrived at a bad time. The skies look dark, which means it's about to storm. In my opinion, the gods are angry at us and are punishing us.

ANTIGONUS

Their sacred wills be done! Go, get aboard;Look to thy bark: I'll not be long beforeI call upon thee.

ANTIGONUS

May the gods' will be done! Get back on board the boat; I'll be back in a minute.

MARINER

Make your best haste, and go notToo far i' the land: 'tis like to be loud weather;Besides, this place is famous for the creaturesOf prey that keep upon't.

mariner (SAILOR)

Hurry as fast as you can, and don't go too far inland—this storm looks bad. Besides, this place is famous for its man-eating animals.

ANTIGONUS

Go thou away:I'll follow instantly.

ANTIGONUS

Go on; I'll be right behind you.

MARINER

I am glad at heartTo be so rid o' the business.

mariner (SAILOR)

I'll be glad to get this over with.

Exit

ANTIGONUS

Come, poor babe: I have heard, but not believed, the spirits o' the dead May walk again: i f such thing be, thy mother Appear'd to me last night, for ne'er was dream So like a waking. To me comes a creature, Sometimes her head on one side, some another; I never saw a vessel of like sorrow, So fill'd and so becoming: in pure white robes, Like very sanctity, she did approach My cabin where I lay; thrice bow'd before me, And gasping to begin some speech, her eyes Became two spouts: the fury spent, anon Did this break-from her: 'Good Antigonus, Since fate, against thy better disposition, Hath made thy person for the thrower-out Of my poor babe, according to thine oath, Places remote enough are in Bohemia, There weep and leave it crying; and, for the babe Is counted lost for ever, Perdita, I prithee, call't. For this ungentle business Put on thee by my lord, thou ne'er shalt see Thy wife Paulina more.' And so, with shrieks She melted into air. Affrighted much, I did in time collect myself and thought This was so and no slumber. Dreams are toys: Yet for this once, yea, superstitiously, I will be squared by this. I do believe Hermione hath suffer'd death, and that Apollo would, this being indeed the issue Of King Polixenes, it should here be laid, Either for life or death, upon the earth Of its right father. Blossom, speed thee well! There lie, and there thy character: there these; Which may, if fortune please, both breed thee, pretty, And still rest thine. The storm begins; poor wretch, That for thy mother's fault art thus exposed To loss and what may follow! Weep I cannot, But my heart bleeds; and most accursed am I To be by oath enjoin'd to this. Farewell! The day frowns more and more: thou'rt like to have A lullaby too rough: I never saw The heavens so dim by day. A savage clamour! Well may I get aboard! This is the chase: I am gone for ever.

ANTIGONUS

Come here, poor baby. I've heard (but haven't believed) stories about spirits of the dead walking the earth. If these things do happen, then your mother appeared to me last night in a dream that was so real, it felt like I was awake. Something walked toward me, moving its head from side to side. I've never seen anything so sad and so completely beautiful. In pure white robes, like a goddess, she walked toward the place where I was sleeping. She bowed three times, gasping as she tried to speak. Crying with rage, she finally burst out, "Antigonus, you have the bad luck to be disposing of my baby far away in Bohemia. Shed a tear as you leave her there. Since she's lost forever, you should call her 'Perdita.' And for what my husband has made you do, you'll never see your wife, Paulina, again." Then, shrieking, she disappeared into thin air. Terrified, it took me a while to collect myself, and I wasn't sure if it was a dream or not. Usually I don't put much stock in dreams, but this one I'd swear by superstitiously. I believe that Hermione died, and that Apollo wants this baby (who must be King Polixenes's daughter) to be laid here on its father's land, to either live or die.

[He places the baby on the ground in a basket with a letter and some jewels]
  Good luck! There you are, and there's the story of your identity. If you make it, these things might help you. The storm is beginning! Poor brat, you're out in the elements thanks to your mother's mistake, and who knows what will happen! I can't cry, but my heart is bleeding and I'm damned for getting tangled up in this. Goodbye! It's getting darker and darker. I'm afraid the lullaby you're about to get will be a little on the rough side; I've never seen the sky so black in the daytime. The thunder, the lightning! I need to get aboard the ship!


[Walking away, he sees a bear running toward him]
 Well, this is it: I'm gone forever.

Exit, pursued by a bear

Enter a Shepherd

SHEPHERD

I would there were no age between sixteen and three-and-twenty, or that youth would sleep out the rest; for there is nothing in the between but getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting— Hark you now! Would any but these boiled brains of nineteen and two-and-twenty hunt this weather? They have scared away two of my best sheep, which I fear the wolf will sooner find than the master: if any where I have them, 'tis by the seaside, browsing of ivy. Good luck, an't be thy will what have we here! Mercy on 's, a barne a very pretty barne! A boy or a child, I wonder? A pretty one; a very pretty one: sure, some 'scape: though I am not bookish, yet I can read waiting-gentlewoman in the 'scape. This has been some stair-work, some trunk-work, some behind-door-work: they were warmer that got this than the poor thing is here. I'll take it up for pity: yet I'll tarry till my son come; he hallooed but even now. Whoa, ho, hoa!

SHEPHERD

I wish we could go straight from sixteen to twenty-three, or that we could put our lives on pause in between those ages. Ya don't get up to much at that age except knocking girls up, embarrassing your old folks, stealing, fighting—[Seeing the basket on the ground] Well, whadaya know! Only no-good youngsters would be out in this weather! They've scared away two of my best sheep, and I'll be darned if the wolves don't find them before I do. If they're anywhere to be found, it's down by the sea, grazing on some weeds . . . [He looks into the basket] Lord have mercy, it's a baby, a very pretty little baby! Is it a boy or a girl, I wonder? Ah, it's a pretty one, you're a very pretty one, aren't you, with a pretty face. I may not be all that smart, but I can tell from your face your mama's a high-class lady. This has been some back-room, behind-closed-doors, under-the-covers business, huh, by two people who were hotter and heavier than you are now! You poor thing, come here. [He picks up the basket] I'll hold on 'til my son comes; I thought I heard him just now—Hey there!

Enter Clown

CLOWN

Hilloa, loa!

clown (SHEPHERD's son)

Howdy-hey!

SHEPHERD

What, art so near? If thou'lt see a thing to talkon when thou art dead and rotten, come hither. Whatailest thou, man?

SHEPHERD

What're you doing up here? If you wanna see the darnedest thing you ever did see, get yourself over here! What's the matter with you, boy?

CLOWN

I have seen two such sights, by sea and by land!but I am not to say it is a sea, for it is now thesky: betwixt the firmament and it you cannot thrusta bodkin's point.

clown (shepherd's son)

I've seen two unbelievable things, one in the sea and one on land! But now I don't know what's the sea and what's the sky; everything's all mixed up in this storm.

SHEPHERD

Why, boy, how is it?

SHEPHERD

What in the world do you mean, boy?

CLOWN

I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the shore! but that's not the point. O, the most piteous cry of the poor souls! sometimes to see 'em, and not to see 'em; now the ship boring the moon with her main-mast, and anon swallowed with yest and froth, as you'ld thrust a cork into a hogshead. And then for the land-service, to see how the bear tore out his shoulder-bone; how he cried to me for help and said his name was Antigonus, a nobleman. But to make an end of the ship, to see how the sea flap-dragoned it: but, first, how the poor souls roared, and the sea mocked them; and how the poor gentleman roared and the bear mocked him, both roaring louder than the sea or weather.

clown (shepherd's son)

If only you could see how the water is roiling and raging all the way up the beach—but that's not the point! The pitiful cries of people who are doomed! I could see 'em, and then I couldn't as the ship went up and down, to and fro, pushed around in the waves like you'd push a cork into a keg of beer. And then on land, if you'd seen how the bear tore his arm out of its socket, and heard how he cried to me for help and said his name was Antigonus, a gentleman. But back to the ship: if you'd seen how the sea gobbled them up, and the people screamed, and the sea laughed at them, and how the poor man screamed and the bear laughed at him, both screaming louder than the sea or the storm. 

SHEPHERD

Name of mercy, when was this, boy?

SHEPHERD

Bless my soul. When was this, boy?

CLOWN

Now, now: I have not winked since I saw thesesights: the men are not yet cold under water, northe bear half dined on the gentleman: he's at itnow.

clown (shepherd's son)

Now, now! I've barely blinked since I saw it all. The men have hardly sunk to the ocean floor yet and the bear hasn't finished eating the gentleman; he's at it now.

SHEPHERD

Would I had been by, to have helped the old man!

SHEPHERD

I wish I would have been there to have helped the old man!

CLOWN

I would you had been by the ship side, to havehelped her: there your charity would have lacked footing.

clown (shepherd's son)

I wish you would have been alongside the ship, to have helped it, too, though that would have been pretty difficult.

SHEPHERD

Heavy matters! heavy matters! but look thee here, boy. Now bless thyself: thou mettest with things dying, I with things newborn. Here's a sight for thee; look thee, a bearing-cloth for a squire's child! look thee here; take up, take up, boy; open't. So, let's see: it was told me I should be rich by the fairies. This is some changeling: open't. What's within, boy?

SHEPHERD

That's heavy stuff! Heavy stuff! But lookee here, boy. Cross your heart—you came across the dying, and I came across something that's newborn. [He lifts Perdita's blanket out of the basket] Here's a sight for you: look, a blanket for a gentleman's baby! [He pulls out a bag of gold] Lookee here, pick it up now, pick it up, boy, and open it! So, let's see: I've got an idea the fairies have made me rich. This is a changeling—open it. What's it say, boy?

CLOWN

You're a made old man: if the sins of your youthare forgiven you, you're well to live. Gold! all gold!

clown (shepherd's son)

Your fortune is made, old man. Someone must have forgiven the sins of your youth; now you're set for life. Gold! All gold!

SHEPHERD

This is fairy gold, boy, and 'twill prove so: upwith't, keep it close: home, home, the next way.We are lucky, boy; and to be so still requiresnothing but secrecy. Let my sheep go: come, goodboy, the next way home.

SHEPHERD

This is fairy gold, boy, you'll see! Hold on to it tight. Let's get on home now. We are lucky, boy, and to hold on to our luck we need to keep this under wraps. Let the sheep go. Let's get on home now, boy!

CLOWN

Go you the next way with your findings. I'll go seeif the bear be gone from the gentleman and how muchhe hath eaten: they are never curst but when theyare hungry: if there be any of him left, I'll buryit.

clown (shepherd's son)

Go on ahead with your findings. I'll go and see if the bear is gone and, if there's anything left of the gentleman, I'll bury it.

SHEPHERD

That's a good deed. If thou mayest discern by thatwhich is left of him what he is, fetch me to thesight of him.

SHEPHERD

That's a good thing to do. If you can tell from what's left who he is and where he's from, bring me there to see him. 

CLOWN

Marry, will I; and you shall help to put him i' the ground.

clown (shepherd's son)

Yes, sir, I will, and you can help me bury him.

SHEPHERD

'Tis a lucky day, boy, and we'll do good deeds on't.

SHEPHERD

We're lucky today, boy. Let's give thanks by doing good.

Exeunt

The winters tale
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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.