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The Winter's Tale

The Winter's Tale Translation Act 5, Scene 1

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Enter LEONTES, CLEOMENES, DION, PAULINA, and Servants

CLEOMENES

Sir, you have done enough, and have perform'd A saint-like sorrow: no fault could you make, Which you have not redeem'd; indeed, paid down More penitence than done trespass: at the last, Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil; With them forgive yourself.

CLEOMENES

Sir, you've done enough; you've grieved enough. You've redeemed every one of your sins. You've done more penitence than you did wrong. For the last time: do what God does. Forget what your evil actions and forgive yourself.

LEONTES

Whilst I remember Her and her virtues, I cannot forget My blemishes in them, and so still think of The wrong I did myself; which was so much, That heirless it hath made my kingdom and Destroy'd the sweet'st companion that e'er man Bred his hopes out of.

LEONTES

As long as I remember her, I can't forget my mistakes. I still think about how badly I messed up, leaving my kingdom without a prince and myself without a wife.

PAULINA

True, too true, my lord:If, one by one, you wedded all the world,Or from the all that are took something good,To make a perfect woman, she you kill'dWould be unparallel'd.

PAULINA

Too true, too true, sir. No woman alive compares to the woman you killed.

LEONTES

I think so. Kill'd! She I kill'd! I did so: but thou strikest me Sorely, to say I did; it is as bitter Upon thy tongue as in my thought: now, good now, Say so but seldom.

LEONTES

I think you're right. Killed? The woman I killed? It's true, but it hurts to hear you say that. It hurts to think that. Please, don't say it often.

CLEOMENES

Not at all, good lady:You might have spoken a thousand things that wouldHave done the time more benefit and gracedYour kindness better.

CLEOMENES

Ma'am, please stop. Anything you could possibly say would be better than that.

PAULINA

You are one of thoseWould have him wed again.

PAULINA

You're one of those men who want him to marry again.

DION

If you would not so, You pity not the state, nor the remembrance Of his most sovereign name; consider little What dangers, by his highness' fail of issue, May drop upon his kingdom and devour Incertain lookers on. What were more holy Than to rejoice the former queen is well? What holier than, for royalty's repair, For present comfort and for future good, To bless the bed of majesty again With a sweet fellow to't?

DION

If you're against him marrying, you're not thinking realistically about our country or the fact that Leontes needs an heir to his royal name. Consider what will happen if he dies without an heir—the kingdom will descend into warfare. We should thank God Hermione is in heaven now. Only good could come of a new queen: companionship for Leontes and the possibility of future princes and princesses.

PAULINA

There is none worthy, Respecting her that's gone. Besides, the gods Will have fulfill'd their secret purposes; For has not the divine Apollo said, Is't not the tenor of his oracle, That King Leontes shall not have an heir Till his lost child be found? which that it shall, Is all as monstrous to our human reason As my Antigonus to break his grave And come again to me; who, on my life, Did perish with the infant. 'Tis your counsel My lord should to the heavens be contrary, Oppose against their wills. [To LEONTES] Care not for issue; The crown will find an heir: great Alexander Left his to the worthiest; so his successor Was like to be the best.

PAULINA

No one but Hermione herself deserves that role. Besides, the gods intended this: didn't Apollo's oracle say that King Leontes would not have an heir until his lost child was found? It's about as likely that baby will return as it is that Antigonus, my husband (who died with it) will come back to life. You're advising the king to go against the gods' will.

[To LEONTES] Don't worry about having children; you'll find someone to inherit the throne. Alexander the Great didn't have children, so he left his to whoever was most worthy. That worked out fine for him.

LEONTES

Good Paulina, Who hast the memory of Hermione, I know, in honour, O, that ever I Had squared me to thy counsel! then, even now, I might have look'd upon my queen's full eyes, Have taken treasure from her lips—

LEONTES

Paulina, you keep Hermione's memory alive. I wish I would have listened to you before! If I had, I might be looking into my queen's eyes at this very moment. I might be kissing her precious lips—

PAULINA

And left themMore rich for what they yielded.

PAULINA

Her lips were precious, and you should consider yourself lucky they ever kissed you.

LEONTES

Thou speak'st truth. No more such wives; therefore, no wife: one worse, And better used, would make her sainted spirit Again possess her corpse, and on this stage, Where we're offenders now, appear soul-vex'd, And begin, 'Why to me?'

LEONTES

You speak the truth. I won't marry again, since there's no one else like Hermione. If I married someone less wonderful than Hermione, yet treated that second wife better than I treated my first, I can only imagine Hermione's ghost would possess her body and come back to haunt me, asking "Why are you doing this to me?"

PAULINA

Had she such power,She had just cause.

PAULINA

If she had that power, she'd be justified in doing so.

LEONTES

She had; and would incense meTo murder her I married.

LEONTES

She would, and she'd force me to murder my new wife.

PAULINA

I should so. Were I the ghost that walk'd, I'ld bid you mark Her eye, a nd tell me for what dull part in't You chose her; then I'ld shriek, that even your ears Should rift to hear me; and the words that follow'd Should be 'Remember mine.'

PAULINA

I should think so. If I were Hermione's ghost, I'd make you look your new wife in the eye. I'd ask you to tell me why you chose her. Then I'd shriek loud enough to burst your eardrums, and say, "Remember me."

LEONTES

Stars, stars,And all eyes else dead coals! Fear thou no wife;I'll have no wife, Paulina.

LEONTES

No eyes are as beautiful as hers were. Don't be afraid of me marrying a wife, Paulina; I won't marry a new wife.

PAULINA

Will you swearNever to marry but by my free leave?

PAULINA

Will you swear never to marry unless I give you permission?

LEONTES

Never, Paulina; so be blest my spirit!

LEONTES

Never, Paulina, God bless my soul!

PAULINA

Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.

PAULINA

Then, gentlemen, bear witness to his promise.

CLEOMENES

You tempt him over-much.

CLEOMENES

You're playing to his weakness.

PAULINA

Unless another,As like Hermione as is her picture,Affront his eye.

PAULINA

He won't marry again unless another woman, the spitting image of Hermione, crosses his eye.

CLEOMENES

Good madam,—

CLEOMENES

Ma'am—

PAULINA

I have done. Yet, if my lord will marry,—if you will, sir, No remedy, but you will,—give me the office To choose you a queen: she shall not be so young As was your former; but she shall be such As, walk'd your first queen's ghost, it should take joy To see her in your arms.

PAULINA

I'm done. Yet, if you do intend to marry, sir, and won't be stopped, give me the right to choose your new queen. She won't be as young as your first one, but she'll be someone that Hermione's ghost would be happy to see you with.

LEONTES

My true Paulina,We shall not marry till thou bid'st us.

LEONTES

Paulina, I won't marry until you tell me.

PAULINA

ThatShall be when your first queen's again in breath;Never till then.

PAULINA

That will be when your first queen breathes again, and not a moment sooner.

Enter a Gentleman

GENTLEMAN

One that gives out himself Prince Florizel,Son of Polixenes, with his princess, sheThe fairest I have yet beheld, desires accessTo your high presence.

GENTLEMAN

A man calling himself Prince Florizel, son of Polixenes, is here with a beautiful princess. He's asked to see you.

LEONTES

What with him? he comes notLike to his father's greatness: his approach,So out of circumstance and sudden, tells us'Tis not a visitation framed, but forcedBy need and accident. What train?

LEONTES

What is he doing here? He's not arriving with his father's usual style. This can't be planned—he must have been forced to visit suddenly by some accident. Who did he bring with him?

GENTLEMAN

But few,And those but mean.

GENTLEMAN

Very few people, and most of them are peasants.

LEONTES

His princess, say you, with him?

LEONTES

Did you say he has his princess with him?

GENTLEMAN

Ay, the most peerless piece of earth, I think,That e'er the sun shone bright on.

GENTLEMAN

Yes, the most beautiful woman I think I've ever seen.

PAULINA

O Hermione, As every present time doth boast itself Above a better gone, so must thy grave Give way to what's seen now! Sir, you yourself Have said and writ so, but your writing now Is colder than that theme, 'She had not been, Nor was not to be equall'd;'—thus your verse Flow'd with her beauty once: 'tis shrewdly ebb'd, To say you have seen a better.

PAULINA

[To herself] Oh, Hermione, every new woman makes men forget the old ones.

[To the gentleman]
 Sir, you yourself have said and written that "Hermione was not, and will not be matched." Considering how you used to rave about her beauty, you're doing her a disservice now to say you've seen someone more beautiful.

GENTLEMAN

Pardon, madam: The one I have almost forgot,—your pardon,— The other, when she has obtain'd your eye, Will have your tongue too. This is a creature, Would she begin a sect, might quench the zeal Of all professors else, make proselytes Of who she but bid follow.

GENTLEMAN

I'm sorry, ma'am. I'd almost forgotten Hermione. When you see this princess, though, you'll want to praise her, too. She's like a goddess who converts everyone who sees her to the religion of worshipping her.

PAULINA

How! not women?

PAULINA

Really? Women, too?

GENTLEMAN

Women will love her, that she is a womanMore worth than any man; men, that she isThe rarest of all women.

GENTLEMAN

Women will love her for being more worth their love than men. Men will love her because she's the most special woman that ever was.

LEONTES

Go, Cleomenes;Yourself, assisted with your honour'd friends,Bring them to our embracement. Still, 'tis strange He thus should steal upon us.

LEONTES

Go, Cleomenes. You and some of these gentleman should welcome them on my behalf. Still, it's strange for Florizel to surprise us like this.

Exeunt CLEOMENES and others

PAULINA

Had our prince,Jewel of children, seen this hour, he had pair'dWell with this lord: there was not full a monthBetween their births.

PAULINA

If Mamillius had lived to see this day, he'd be Florizel's age. They were born about a month apart.

LEONTES

Prithee, no more; cease; thou know'st He dies to me again when talk'd of: sure, When I shall see this gentleman, thy speeches Will bring me to consider that which may Unfurnish me of reason. They are come. Your mother was most true to wedlock, prince; For she did print your royal father off, Conceiving you: were I but twenty-one, Your father's image is so hit in you, His very air, that I should call you brother, As I did him, and speak of something wildly By us perform'd before. Most dearly welcome! And your fair princess,—goddess!—O, alas! I lost a couple, that 'twixt heaven and earth Might thus have stood begetting wonder as You, gracious couple, do: and then I lost— All mine own folly—the society, Amity too, of your brave father, whom, Though bearing misery, I desire my life Once more to look on him.

LEONTES

Please, no more—stop. You know that hearing that is like seeing him die all over again. But your words will keep me in check when I see this young man. Here they come.

[CLEOMENES, FLORIZEL, PERDITA, and gentlemen come back in]

Florizel, your mother should be proud: you look exactly like your father did when he was your age. So much so that I'm tempted to call you "brother," like I used to call him, and to start chatting with you about some wild escapades the two of us got up to! You are very welcome here. And your beautiful princess—she's like a goddess! Oh, I lost two children some time ago that would have been as wonderful to behold as you two are now. I lost—due to my own stupidity—your father's friendship, too. I'd do anything to see him again, no matter how painful it might be.

FLORIZEL

By his command Have I here touch'd Sicilia and from him Give you all greetings that a king, at friend, Can send his brother: and, but infirmity Which waits upon worn times hath something seized His wish'd ability, he had himself The lands and waters 'twixt your throne and his Measured to look upon you; whom he loves— He bade me say so—more than all the sceptres And those that bear them living.

FLORIZEL

I'm here in Sicily by his command. He's asked me to greet you not just as a king, but as a friend and brother. Though he wanted to come, he was held back by some unavoidable issues at home. He asked me to tell you that he loves you more than all the thrones and all the kings in the world.

LEONTES

O my brother, Good gentleman! the wrongs I have done thee stir Afresh within me, and these thy offices, So rarely kind, are as interpreters Of my behind-hand slackness. Welcome hither, As is the spring to the earth. And hath he too Exposed this paragon to the fearful usage, At least ungentle, of the dreadful Neptune, To greet a man not worth her pains, much less The adventure of her person?

LEONTES

Oh, my brother! I'm thinking through the wrong I did you all over again; your friendly message only makes me feel more guilty. You two are as welcome as spring is on earth. And has Polixenes put this beautiful girl through a long, uncomfortable boat journey just to see me, who's hardly worth the trouble?

FLORIZEL

Good my lord,She came from Libya.

FLORIZEL

Sir, she's from Libya.

LEONTES

Where the warlike Smalus,That noble honour'd lord, is fear'd and loved?

LEONTES

Where King Smalus rules, feared and loved by all?

FLORIZEL

Most royal sir, from thence; from him, whose daughter His tears proclaim'd his, parting with her: thence, A prosperous south-wind friendly, we have cross'd, To execute the charge my father gave me For visiting your highness: my best train I have from your Sicilian shores dismiss'd; Who for Bohemia bend, to signify Not only my success in Libya, sir, But my arrival and my wife's in safety Here where we are.

FLORIZEL

Exactly, sir. He was sad to part with her, his daughter, and we've just come from there to follow my father's instructions to visit you. I didn't bring my gentlemen and servants here—I sent them back to Bohemia to tell everyone about our marriage, and that my wife and I have arrived safely here. 

LEONTES

The blessed gods Purge all infection from our air whilst you Do climate here! You have a holy father, A graceful gentleman; against whose person, So sacred as it is, I have done sin: For which the heavens, taking angry note, Have left me issueless; and your father's blest, As he from heaven merits it, with you Worthy his goodness. What might I have been, Might I a son and daughter now have look'd on, Such goodly things as you!

LEONTES

I hope you have a happy and healthy stay here! Your father is a righteous man, and I've sinned against him. As a punishment, the gods have left me without any children of my own. Your father is blessed to have you! I would be blessed, too, if I had a son and daughter like you two with me now!

Enter a Lord

LORD

Most noble sir, That which I shall report will bear no credit, Were not the proof so nigh. Please you, great sir, Bohemia greets you from himself by me; Desires you to attach his son, who has— His dignity and duty both cast off— Fled from his father, from his hopes, and with A shepherd's daughter.

LORD

Sir, you'll hardly believe this, but you have to because the one who sent me is about to arrive: Polixenes sends you his greetings. He asks that you hold his son here—you see, his son ran away from his father and his responsibilities with a shepherd's daughter.

LEONTES

Where's Bohemia? speak.

LEONTES

Tell me, where's Polixenes?

LORD

Here in your city; I now came from him: I speak amazedly; and it becomes My marvel and my message. To your court Whiles he was hastening, in the chase, it seems, Of this fair couple, meets he on the way The father of this seeming lady and Her brother, having both their country quitted With this young prince.

LORD

Here in your city; I just came from him. And (it may seem crazy . . . I can hardly believe it myself) while Polixenes was on his way to your court, chasing this young couple, he ran into this girl's father and brother, who have also fled the country.

FLORIZEL

Camillo has betray'd me;Whose honour and whose honesty till nowEndured all weathers.

FLORIZEL

Camillo has betrayed me, though he's always been loyal and honest before now.

LORD

Lay't so to his charge:He's with the king your father.

LORD

You can tell him yourself; he's with your father, the king.

LEONTES

Who? Camillo?

LEONTES

Who, Camillo?

LORD

Camillo, sir; I spake with him; who now Has these poor men in question. Never saw I Wretches so quake: they kneel, they kiss the earth; Forswear themselves as often as they speak: Bohemia stops his ears, and threatens them With divers deaths in death.

LORD

Camillo, sir. I spoke with him and with the shepherds. I've never seen men so afraid: they kneel, kiss the ground, and swear every time they speak. Polixenes can hardly listen to them; he keeps threatening them with death.

PERDITA

O my poor father!The heaven sets spies upon us, will not haveOur contract celebrated.

PERDITA

Oh, my poor father! The spies have found us, and now we won't get to celebrate our wedding.

LEONTES

You are married?

LEONTES

Aren't you married?

FLORIZEL

We are not, sir, nor are we like to be;The stars, I see, will kiss the valleys first:The odds for high and low's alike.

FLORIZEL

We're not, sir, and probably won't be. Pigs will fly before that happens. The odds don't seem to be in our favor.

LEONTES

My lord,Is this the daughter of a king?

LEONTES

Sir, is she a princess?

FLORIZEL

She is,When once she is my wife.

FLORIZEL

She will be, once she's my wife.

LEONTES

That 'once' I see by your good father's speedWill come on very slowly. I am sorry,Most sorry, you have broken from his likingWhere you were tied in duty, and as sorryYour choice is not so rich in worth as beauty,That you might well enjoy her.

LEONTES

That "once" isn't likely to come to pass now that your father's on his way. I'm very sorry to hear that you're at odds with your father; you should be obedient to him. And I'm sorry, too, that you won't be able to enjoy this girl, since her station in life does not match her beauty.

FLORIZEL

Dear, look up: Though Fortune, visible an enemy, Should chase us with my father, power no jot Hath she to change our loves. Beseech you, sir, Remember since you owed no more to time Than I do now: with thought of such affections, Step forth mine advocate; at your request My father will grant precious things as trifles.

FLORIZEL

[To PERDITA] Chin up, sweetheart. Nothing that my father does can change the love we have for each other. 

[To LEONTES] Sir, I beg you—think of what you were like when you were my age and in love. Defend me to my father. If you ask, he'll give you an expensive gift as quickly as if it were a cheap one.

LEONTES

Would he do so, I'ld beg your precious mistress,Which he counts but a trifle.

LEONTES

If he'd really do anything, I'd ask him to give me your girlfriend, who he clearly doesn't care for.

PAULINA

Sir, my liege,Your eye hath too much youth in't: not a month'Fore your queen died, she was more worth such gazesThan what you look on now.

PAULINA

Sir? My lord! The way you're looking at her is hardly appropriate. Your queen, before she died, was much more beautiful than the girl you see now.

LEONTES

I thought of her,Even in these looks I made. [To FLORIZEL] But your petitionIs yet unanswer'd. I will to your father:Your honour not o'erthrown by your desires,I am friend to them and you: upon which errandI now go toward him; therefore follow meAnd mark what way I make: come, good my lord.

LEONTES

I was thinking of her even while I looked at this young girl.

[To FLORIZEL] I haven't answered your question. I will speak to your father. Your love hasn't compromised your duties as prince; I support you and your actions. I'll go to him now; come with me and watch what I do. Come, sir.

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.