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Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night Translation Act 2, Scene 4

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Enter ORSINO, VIOLA, CURIO, and others

ORSINO

Give me some music. ( music plays ) Now, good morrow, friends.— Now, good Cesario, but that piece of song, That old and antique song we heard last night. Methought it did relieve my passion much, More than light airs and recollected terms Of these most brisk and giddy-paced times: Come, but one verse.

ORSINO

Give me some music. [Music plays] Now, good morning, friends.

[To VIOLA] 
 Now, good Cesario, have them play that old-fashioned song we heard last night. It helped ease my passion and made me feel better, more than the silly songs and memorized words of these fast-paced modern times. Come, have them sing just one verse at least.

CURIO

He is not here, so please your lordship, that should sing it.

CURIO

Forgive me, my lord, but the man who should sing it isn't here.

ORSINO

Who was it?

ORSINO

Who is that?

CURIO

Feste, the jester, my lord, a fool that the lady Olivia’s father took much delight in. He is about the house.

CURIO

Feste the jester, my lord, a fool that Olivia's father used to like. He's somewhere in the house.

ORSINO

Seek him out, and play the tune the while.

ORSINO

Go find him, and in the meantime you all play the tune.

Exit CURIO. Music plays

( t o VIOLA ) Come hither, boy. If ever thou shalt love, In the sweet pangs of it remember me; For such as I am, all true lovers are, Unstaid and skittish in all motions else Save in the constant image of the creature That is beloved. How dost thou like this tune?

[To VIOLA] Come here, boy. If you ever fall in love, remember me when you feel its bittersweet pangs. Because the way I am now is the way all true lovers are—moody and fickle in every emotion, constant only in imagining the face of the person they love. How do you like this song?

VIOLA

It gives a very echo to the seatWhere Love is throned.

VIOLA

It echoes poignantly in the heart.

ORSINO

Thou dost speak masterly. My life upon ’t, young though thou art, thine eye Hath stay’d upon some favor that it loves. Hath it not, boy?

ORSINO

You speak well. I'd bet my life that, young as you are, you've fallen in love with a woman before. Am I right, boy?

VIOLA

A little, by your favor.

VIOLA

A little bit, sir.

ORSINO

What kind of woman is’t?

ORSINO

What kind of woman is she?

VIOLA

Of your complexion.

VIOLA

She looks something like you.

ORSINO

She is not worth thee, then. What years, i' faith?

ORSINO

She's not worthy of you, then. How old is she?

VIOLA

About your years, my lord.

VIOLA

About your age, my lord.

ORSINO

Too old by heaven. Let still the woman take An elder than herself. So wears she to him, So sways she level in her husband’s heart. For, boy, however we do praise ourselves, Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm, More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn, Than women’s are.

ORSINO

Then she's too old, by heaven. A woman should be with a man older than she is, so she can adapt herself to her husband and keep his love constant. We men praise ourselves, boy, but in reality we are more fickle and inconstant in love than women are—our desires waver and disappear sooner and more frequently.

VIOLA

I think it well, my lord.

VIOLA

I think you're right, my lord.

ORSINO

Then let thy love be younger than thyself, Or thy affection cannot hold the bent. For women are as roses, whose fair flowerBeing once displayed, doth fall that very hour.

ORSINO

Then your beloved should be younger than you are, or you won't be able to maintain your feelings for her. Women are like roses, whose beauty is greatest in the same hour that they fall from the stem and decay.

VIOLA

And so they are. Alas, that they are so, To die even when they to perfection grow!

VIOLA

So they are. It's too bad that this is how it is—beauty starts to die just as it reaches its perfection!

Enter CURIO and FOOL

ORSINO

O, fellow, come, the song we had last night.— Mark it, Cesario, it is old and plain; The spinsters and the knitters in the sun And the free maids that weave their thread with bones Do use to chant it . It is silly sooth, And dallies with the innocence of love, Like the old age.

ORSINO

Oh, you fellow, come sing the song we heard last night. Listen closely to it, Cesario, it's a simple old song. The wool spinners and knitters used to sing it while they sewed, and innocent maidens recited it over their weaving. It tells the simple truth about the innocence of love, as it was in the good old days.

FOOL

Are you ready, sir?

FOOL

Are you ready, sir?

ORSINO

Ay; prithee, sing.

ORSINO

Yes; please, sing.

Music

FOOL

[sings] Come away, come away, death, And in sad cypress let me be laid. Fly away, fly away breath, I am slain by a fair cruel maid. My shroud of white, stuck all with yew, O, prepare it! My part of death, no one so true Did share it. Not a flower, not a flower sweet On my black coffin let there be strown. Not a friend, not a friend greet My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown. A thousand thousand sighs to save, Lay me, O, where Sad true lover never find my grave, To weep there!

FOOL

[Singing]
Come now, come now death,
And let me be laid in a cypress coffin.
Fly away, fly away breath,
I've been killed by a fair, cruel girl.
My shroud of white, adorned with yew sprigs,
Oh, prepare it for me!
No one as faithful as I
Has ever died like me.
Throw no flowers, no sweet flowers
Upon my black coffin.
Let no friends, no friends see
My poor corpse, or my scattered bones.
Save your thousand sighs of mourning,
And bury me, Oh, where
No sad true lovers can find my grave,
To weep there!

ORSINO

[giving money] There’s for thy pains.

ORSINO

[Giving the FOOL money] That's for your trouble.

FOOL

No pains, sir. I take pleasure in singing, sir.

FOOL

It was no trouble, sir. I take pleasure in singing, sir.

ORSINO

I’ll pay thy pleasure then.

ORSINO

I'll pay you for your pleasure, then.

FOOL

Truly, sir, and pleasure will be paid, one time or another.

FOOL

All right then, sir. We all pay for our pleasures eventually.

ORSINO

Give me now leave to leave thee.

ORSINO

Allow me to let you leave now.

FOOL

Now, the melancholy god protect thee, and the tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for thy mind is a very opal. I would have men of such constancy put to sea, that their business might be everything and their intent everywhere, for that’s it that always makes a good voyage of nothing. Farewell.

FOOL

May the god of melancholy watch over you, and may a tailor make you a jacket of opal, for your mind changes like the colors of an opal. Men as changeable as you should be put out to sea, where they can make everything their business and scatter their ideas everywhere, drifting about on the changeable waves—that's how you make a good voyage out of nothing. Farewell.

Exit

ORSINO

Let all the rest give place.

ORSINO

The rest of you can leave too.

CURIO and attendants retire

Once more, Cesario, Get thee to yond same sovereign cruelty. Tell her my love, more noble than the world, Prizes not quantity of dirty lands; The parts that fortune hath bestowed upon her, Tell her, I hold as giddily as fortune; But ’tis that miracle and queen of gems That nature pranks her in attracts my soul.

Once more, Cesario, go visit that supremely cruel woman. Tell her that my love is more noble than anything else in the world, and has nothing to do with her property or the riches she has inherited. Tell her that the fortune I value the most is her gem-like beauty, which is priceless and attracts my helpless soul.

VIOLA

But if she cannot love you, sir?

VIOLA

But if she cannot love you, sir?

ORSINO

I cannot be so answer’d.

ORSINO

I cannot accept that answer.

VIOLA

Sooth, but you must. Say that some lady, as perhaps there is, Hath for your love a great a pang of heart As you have for Olivia. You cannot love her. You tell her so. Must she not then be answered?

VIOLA

Truly, but you must. Imagine a lady—who probably exists somewhere—who loves you just as passionately as you love Olivia. But you cannot love her, and you tell her so. Doesn't she have to accept your answer then?

ORSINO

There is no woman’s sides Can bide the beating of so strong a passion As love doth give my heart. No woman’s heart So big, to hold so much. They lack retention. Alas, their love may be called appetite, No motion of the liver, but the palate, That suffer surfeit, cloyment, and revolt; But mine is all as hungry as the sea, And can digest as much. Make no compare Between that love a woman can bear me And that I owe Olivia.

ORSINO

There is no woman strong enough to withstand the passion of love that's in my heart. No woman's heart is big enough to hold so much emotion. Women can't carry too much. Alas, love for them is just a shallow appetite—a matter of taste, not a matter of the heart. If they try to eat too much, they get sick, but my love is as insatiable as the sea, and can swallow just as much as the ocean. Don't compare my love for Olivia to any love a woman could have for me.

VIOLA

Ay, but I know—

VIOLA

Yes, but I know—

ORSINO

What dost thou know?

ORSINO

What do you know?

VIOLA

Too well what love women to men may owe. In faith, they are as true of heart as we. My father had a daughter loved a man As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman, I should your lordship.

VIOLA

I know too well how strongly a woman can love a man. Really, their hearts are as true as ours are. My father had a daughter who loved a man just as strongly as I might love you, if I were a woman.

ORSINO

And what’s her history?

ORSINO

And what's her story?

VIOLA

A blank, my lord. She never told her love, But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek. She pined in thought, And with a green and yellow melancholy She sat like patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed? We men may say more, swear more, but indeed Our shows are more than will, for still we prove Much in our vows, but little in our love.

VIOLA

Her story is blank, my lord. She never spoke of her love, but kept her passion concealed. It tormented her from the inside, like a worm trapped inside a closed flower bud, and fed on her outer beauty until it faded. She pined away quietly and sadly, and sat like a sculpture of patience itself, smiling despite her grief. Now wasn't this true love? We men might say more and promise more, but indeed our words are stronger than our passions. We are good at making vows of love, but worse at keeping them.

ORSINO

But died thy sister of her love, my boy?

ORSINO

But did your sister die of her love, my boy?

VIOLA

I am all the daughters of my father’s house, And all the brothers too—and yet I know not. Sir, shall I to this lady?

VIOLA

I am all of my father's daughters, and all of his sons too—and yet I'm not certain of that. Sir, should I go see this lady then?

ORSINO

Ay, that’s the theme.To her in haste. Give her this jewel. SayMy love can give no place, bide no denay. [he hands her a jewel]

ORSINO

Yes, that's right. Go to her quickly. Give her this jewel. Say that my love cannot yield, and cannot be denied. [He hands her a jewel]

Exeunt

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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.