The Winter's Tale Translation Act 4, Scene 1
ACT 4, PROLOGUE
Enter Time, the Chorus
I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error, Now take upon me, in the name of Time, To use my wings. Impute it not a crime To me or my swift passage, that I slide O'er sixteen years and leave the growth untried Of that wide gap, since it is in my power To o'erthrow law and in one self-born hour To plant and o'erwhelm custom. Let me pass The same I am, ere ancient'st order was Or what is now received: I witness to The times that brought them in; so shall I do To the freshest things now reigning and make stale The glistering of this present, as my tale Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing, I turn my glass and give my scene such growing As you had slept between: Leontes leaving, The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving That he shuts up himself, imagine me, Gentle spectators, that I now may be In fair Bohemia, and remember well, I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel I now name to you; and with speed so pace To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace Equal with wondering: what of her ensues I list not prophecy; but let Time's news Be known when 'tis brought forth. A shepherd's daughter, And what to her adheres, which follows after, Is the argument of Time. Of this allow, If ever you have spent time worse ere now; If never, yet that Time himself doth say He wishes earnestly you never may.
I reveal all—joy and terror, good and bad, mistakes made and mistakes paid for— to the benefit of some and to the detriment of others. I am Time, and I came here to flap my wings. Don't blame me for flying by, passing over sixteen years as if it were nothing. It's within my power to defy the rules and pack all of this into a single hour. I am the same now as I have been since ancient times, since the dawn of Time. I'm about to bring in something fresh and new to liven up our current tale, which is as old (and stale) as Time.
[TIME turns an hourglass over in his hand] If you don't mind, I'll turn my hourglass to while away the years before our next scene as quickly as if you'd slept through it. We'll leave Leontes there. He regretted the consequences of his jealousy so much that he shut himself away.
Those of you in the audience: imagine I'm in Bohemia now. Remember when I mentioned the king's son? Now I can tell you that his name is Florizel, and I'll also tell you that Perdita has grow up into a beautiful woman. I won't tell you what becomes of her; you'll see everything in due Time. She was raised as a shepherd's daughter, and what happens to her next only Time will tell. Bear with us for the next part; you'll be glad you took the Time. Ever had a worse Time than you've had watching this play? Well, Time himself hopes that you never will.
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