A line-by-line translation

The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale Translation Act 4, Scene 3

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

Enter AUTOLYCUS, singing

AUTOLYCUS

When daffodils begin to peer, With heigh! the doxy over the dale, Why, then comes in the sweet o' the year; For the red blood reigns in the winter's pale. The white sheet bleaching on the hedge, With heigh! the sweet birds, O, how they sing! Doth set my pugging tooth on edge; For a quart of ale is a dish for a king. The lark, that tirra-lyra chants, With heigh! with heigh! the thrush and the jay, Are summer songs for me and my aunts, While we lie tumbling in the hay. I have served Prince Florizel and in my time wore three-pile; but now I am out of service: But shall I go mourn for that, my dear? The pale moon shines by night: And when I wander here and there, I then do most go right. If tinkers may have leave to live, And bear the sow-skin budget, Then my account I well may, give, And in the stocks avouch it. My traffic is sheets; when the kite builds, look to lesser linen. My father named me Autolycus; who being, as I am, littered under Mercury, was likewise a snapper-up of unconsidered trifles. With die and drab I purchased this caparison, and my revenue is the silly cheat. Gallows and knock are too powerful on the highway: beating and hanging are terrors to me: for the life to come, I sleep out the thought of it. A prize! a prize!

AUTOLYCUS

When daffodils begin to bloom,
(Say "hey!") roll around in the grass with your lover
Since spring, the best time of the year, is here,
After a winter of waiting and wanting.

The clean white sheets hanging out to dry
(Say "hey!") and the birds' beautiful singing
Have me hankering for a hook-up.
I'm no snob—an ugly girl satisfies as much as any other.

The lark that chirps, "tweet, tweet!"
(Say "hey!" Say "hey!"), the thrush, and the blue jay
Are the perfect soundtrack for me and my ladies,
While we get down in the hay.

[He interrupts his song] I served Prince Florizel back in the day and used to wear a fancy suit, but now I'm out of a job.

But am I crying over that, sweetheart?
The moon shines in the night:
Its light guides me as I wander around after-hours
At which time I (mostly) do good.

If we tolerate handymen
Who live on a piss-poor budget
Then I might as well "fix" my income.
I'll pay for it with jail time if I have to.

I'm in the sheets business. If you see a hawk like me swooping in, you better get out your second-best linens. My father named me "Autolycus." Like me, he was destined to be a thief, and, like me, he spent his time snapping up overlooked goodies. I paid for this outfit by pimping—not to mention the additional profit of cheap booty. The threats of jail and death are pretty real out here on the street. I live in constant fear of being beaten or hanged, and I can't even think about the afterlife! I drink to forget about it.

[Seeing the shepherd's son] Ah, here's a treat!

Enter Clown

CLOWN

Let me see: every 'leven wether tods; every todyields pound and odd shilling; fifteen hundredshorn. what comes the wool to?

CLOWN (Shepherd's son)

Let's see: every sheep yields eleven pounds of wool, every pound of wool is worth a dollar and a penny, and we've shaved fifteen hundred sheep. How much does that make us?

AUTOLYCUS

[Aside] If the springe hold, the cock's mine.

AUTOLYCUS

[To himself] If I do this right, I'll catch him.

CLOWN

I cannot do't without counters. Let me see; what am I to buy for our sheep-shearing feast? Three pound of sugar, five pound of currants, rice,—what will this sister of mine do with rice? But my father hath made her mistress of the feast, and she lays it on. She hath made me four and twenty nose-gays for the shearers, three-man-song-men all, and very good ones; but they are most of them means and bases; but one puritan amongst them, and he sings psalms to horn-pipes. I must have saffron to colour the warden pies; mace; dates?—none, that's out of my note; nutmegs, seven; a race or two of ginger, but that I may beg; four pound of prunes, and as many of raisins o' the sun.

CLOWN (Shepherd's son)

I can't do it without a calculator. Let's see: what do I need to buy for the sheep-shearing party? Three pounds of sugar, five pounds of grapes, rice—no idea what my sister needs rice for, but my dad set her up as the debutante of the party, and she's in charge. She made bouquets for all twenty-four of the men who'll shave the sheep tonight. They're all decent guys, but they're rascals. There's only one religious guy out of all of them, and he's really strange. I need some spices for the pies, herbs . . . dates? No, not dates. Some nutmeg, a bit of ginger (but I could get that from a friend), four pounds of prunes, and tons of raisins.

AUTOLYCUS

O that ever I was born!

AUTOLYCUS

Oh, woe is me!

Grovelling on the ground

CLOWN

I' the name of me—

CLOWN (shepherd's son)

What in the world?

AUTOLYCUS

O, help me, help me! pluck but off these rags; andthen, death, death!

AUTOLYCUS

Oh, help me, help me! Get these rags off me, so I can die in peace!

CLOWN

Alack, poor soul! thou hast need of more rags to layon thee, rather than have these off.

CLOWN (Shepherd's son)

You poor thing! In that case, you need clothes to be buried in, not for what's left of your clothes to be taken away.

AUTOLYCUS

O sir, the loathsomeness of them offends me morethan the stripes I have received, which are mightyones and millions.

AUTOLYCUS (SHEPHERD'S SON)

Man, these ugly rags hurt me more than the millions of punches and kicks I just received.

CLOWN

Alas, poor man! a million of beating may come to agreat matter.

CLOWN (Shepherd's Son)

Oh, poor man! A million punches and kicks can do a lot of damage.

AUTOLYCUS

I am robbed, sir, and beaten; my money and apparelta'en from me, and these detestable things put uponme.

AUTOLYCUS

I've been beaten and robbed. My money and clothes were stolen, and then they threw these rags on me.

CLOWN

What, by a horseman, or a footman?

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

Was it someone on horseback, or walking?

AUTOLYCUS

A footman, sweet sir, a footman.

AUTOLYCUS

Walking, my friend, walking.

CLOWN

Indeed, he should be a footman by the garments hehas left with thee: if this be a horseman's coat,it hath seen very hot service. Lend me thy hand,I'll help thee: come, lend me thy hand.

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

That makes sense—someone rich enough to ride a horse wouldn't have been wearing rags like this. Give me your hand, I'll help you up. Give me your hand.  [He grasps AUTOLYCUS's hand and pulls]

AUTOLYCUS

O, good sir, tenderly, O!

AUTOLYCUS

Oh, thank you, sir—carefully, ow! [AUTOLYCUS winces in pain]

CLOWN

Alas, poor soul!

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

Ah, poor thing!

AUTOLYCUS

O, good sir, softly, good sir! I fear, sir, myshoulder-blade is out.

AUTOLYCUS

Oh, man, carefully! I think I've broken my shoulder blade.

CLOWN

How now! canst stand?

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

Really? Can you stand? [He leans over to take a closer look at AUTOLYCUS's shoulder]

AUTOLYCUS

[Picking his pocket] Softly, dear sir; good sir, softly. You ha' done mea charitable office.

AUTOLYCUS

[AUTOLYCUS takes the shepherd's son's wallet out of his pocket without him noticing] Carefully, my friend, very carefully . . . [The shepherd's son lifts AUTOLYCUS to his feet] You've really helped me out.

CLOWN

Dost lack any money? I have a little money for thee.

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

Do you need money? I can give you a little money. [He reaches toward his back pocket]

AUTOLYCUS

No, good sweet sir; no, I beseech you, sir: I havea kinsman not past three quarters of a mile hence,unto whom I was going; I shall there have money, orany thing I want: offer me no money, I pray you;that kills my heart.

AUTOLYCUS

No! My dear friend, no, please. My uncle lives under a mile away, and I was just heading there. I can get some money and anything else I need there. Please, don't offer me any money, I can't bear that.

CLOWN

What manner of fellow was he that robbed you?

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

What kind of guy was it that robbed you?

AUTOLYCUS

A fellow, sir, that I have known to go about withtroll-my-dames; I knew him once a servant of theprince: I cannot tell, good sir, for which of hisvirtues it was, but he was certainly whipped out of thecourt.

AUTOLYCUS

A guy with a reputation for hanging out with prostitutes. I know he used to be the prince's servant. He was kicked out of court for one of his virtues; I can't remember which one.

CLOWN

His vices, you would say; there's no virtue whippedout of the court: they cherish it to make it staythere; and yet it will no more but abide.

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

You mean his vices, right? There's no virtue that would get you kicked out of court. They could use virtue there, considering they have none.

AUTOLYCUS

Vices, I would say, sir. I know this man well: he hath been since an ape-bearer; then a process-server, a bailiff; then he compassed a motion of the Prodigal Son, and married a tinker's wife within a mile where my land and living lies; and, having flown over many knavish professions, he settled only in rogue: some call him Autolycus.

AUTOLYCUS

Vices, yes, that's what I meant. I know this guy well: he was an odd-jobs guy, then a police officer, then he wasted all his money for a while, and then he married a handyman's wife about a mile away from where I live now. He's tried his hand at several questionable professions and has now settled on being a criminal. Some call him Autolycus. 

CLOWN

Out upon him! prig, for my life, prig: he hauntswakes, fairs and bear-baitings.

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

He's the worst! What a jerk! He hangs around funerals, fairs, and public events.

AUTOLYCUS

Very true, sir; he, sir, he; that's the rogue thatput me into this apparel.

AUTOLYCUS

That's true. He's the crook that put me in this outfit.

CLOWN

Not a more cowardly rogue in all Bohemia: if you hadbut looked big and spit at him, he'ld have run.

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

He's the most cowardly criminal in the entire country. If you just shouted and looked intimidating, you'd scare him away.

AUTOLYCUS

I must confess to you, sir, I am no fighter: I amfalse of heart that way; and that he knew, I warranthim.

AUTOLYCUS

I have to admit, I'm not a fighter—my heart's too weak. I'll bet he knew that.

CLOWN

How do you now?

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

How are you feeling now?

AUTOLYCUS

Sweet sir, much better than I was; I can stand andwalk: I will even take my leave of you, and pacesoftly towards my kinsman's.

AUTOLYCUS

Much better than I was, my friend. I can stand and walk; I'll even say goodbye and make my way toward my uncle's house.

CLOWN

Shall I bring thee on the way?

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

Do you want me to come with you?

AUTOLYCUS

No, good-faced sir; no, sweet sir.

AUTOLYCUS

No, you sweet, caring man, you.

CLOWN

Then fare thee well: I must go buy spices for oursheep-shearing.

CLOWN (SHEPHERD'S SON)

Goodbye, then. I have to go buy spices for our sheep-shearing.

AUTOLYCUS

Prosper you, sweet sir! [Exit Clown] Your purse is not hot enough to purchase your spice.I'll be with you at your sheep-shearing too: if Imake not this cheat bring out another and theshearers prove sheep, let me be unrolled and my nameput in the book of virtue! [Sings] Jog on, jog on, the foot-path way,And merrily hent the stile-a:A merry heart goes all the day,Your sad tires in a mile-a.

AUTOLYCUS

God bless you, my friend! [The shepherd's son leaves]

You don't have enough money in your wallet to purchase those spices. I'll be at the sheep-shearing, too. I pulled off this trick and I'm about to make the shearers my next victims. If I can't pull it off (as if that were possible), I'll trade my wicked ways for good deeds!

[Singing] Run along, run along the dirt path
And jump right over the cattle-guard
A smile can go on all day
But a frown only lasts for a mile.

Exit

The winters tale
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire The Winter's Tale Translation as a printable PDF.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
  • Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
  • Downloads of 754 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Explanations and citation info for 18,139 quotes covering 754 books
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms
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.