The Winter's Tale

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Hermione, Mamillius, and Ladies


Take the boy to you: he so troubles me,

'Tis past enduring.


                         Come, my gracious lord,

Shall I be your playfellow?
none of you, will have nothing to do with


                         No, I'll none of you.


Why, my sweet lord?


You'll kiss me hard, and speak to me as if

I were a baby still. – I love you better.


And why so, my lord?


                         Not for because

Your brows are blacker; yet black brows, they say,
brow (n.) 3 eyebrow

Become some women best, so that there be not
become (v.) 1 be fitting, befit, be appropriate to See Topics: Frequency count

Too much hair there, but in a semicircle,

Or a half-moon, made with a pen.


                         Who taught' this?


I learned it out of women's faces. Pray now,

What colour are your eyebrows?


                         Blue, my lord.


Nay, that's a mock. I have seen a lady's nose

That has been blue, but not her eyebrows.


                         Hark ye:

The Queen, your mother, rounds apace. We shall
apace (adv.) quickly, speedily, at a great rate See Topics: Frequency count
round (v.) 2 become round, grow to full form [in pregnancy]

Present our services to a fine new prince

One of these days; and then you'd wanton with us,
wanton (v.) play, sport, frolic

If we would have you.


                         She is spread of late

Into a goodly bulk. Good time encounter her!
time (n.) 7 circumstance, particular occasion


What wisdom stirs amongst you? Come, sir, now

I am for you again. Pray you, sit by us,

And tell's a tale.
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn See Topics: Frequency count


                         Merry or sad shall't be?


As merry as you will.


A sad tale's best for winter. I have one

Of sprites and goblins.
sprite, spright (n.) 1 spirit, ghost, supernatural being


                         Let's have that, good sir.

Come on, sit down; come on, and do your best

To fright me with your sprites. You're powerful at it.
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count


There was a man –


                         Nay, come sit down; then on.


Dwelt by a churchyard – I will tell it softly:

Yond crickets shall not hear it.


                         Come on, then,

And give't me in mine ear.

Enter Leontes, Antigonus, and Lords


Was he met there? His train? Camillo with him?


Behind the tuft of pines I met them. Never
tuft (n.) 1 clump, small group, thicket

Saw I men scour so on their way. I eyed them
scour (v.) 3 go in haste, move quickly, hurry long

Even to their ships.


                         How blest am I

In my just censure, in my true opinion!
censure (n.) 1 assessment, opinion, judgement, criticism

Alack, for lesser knowledge! How accursed

In being so blest! There may be in the cup

A spider steeped, and one may drink, depart,

And yet partake no venom, for his knowledge

Is not infected: but if one present

Th' abhorred ingredient to his eye, make known

How he hath drunk, he cracks his gorge, his sides,
crack (v.) 1 sprain, tear, rupture
gorge (n.) 1 throat, stomach

With violent hefts. I have drunk, and seen the spider.
heft (n.) heaving, retching

Camillo was his help in this, his pander.
pander, pandar (n.) pimp, procurer, go-between

There is a plot against my life, my crown.

All's true that is mistrusted. That false villain
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

Whom I employed was pre-employed by him.

He has discovered my design, and I
design (n.) 2 scheme, plan, plot
discover (v.) 1 reveal, show, make known See Topics: Frequency count

Remain a pinched thing; yea, a very trick
pinched (adj.) tortured, tormented; or: distressed, afflicted; or: reduced to nothing
trick (n.) 6 bauble, trifle, whim

For them to play at will. How came the posterns
play (v.) 2 play with, amuse oneself with
postern (n.) entrance, side gate, back door

So easily open?


                         By his great authority;

Which often hath no less prevailed than so

On your command.


                         I know't too well.

(To Hermione) Give me the boy. I am glad you did not nurse him;

Though he does bear some signs of me, yet you

Have too much blood in him.
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count


                         What is this? Sport?


Bear the boy hence; he shall not come about her.

Away with him, and let her sport herself
sport (v.) 2 amuse, entertain, divert

With that she's big with: for 'tis Polixenes
big (adj.) 1 pregnant [with], swollen

Has made thee swell thus.

Mamillius is led out


                         But I'd say he had not,

And I'll be sworn you would believe my saying,

Howe'er you lean to th' nayward.
nayward (n.) contrary, denial, disbelief


                         You, my lords,

Look on her, mark her well: be but about
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

To say she is a goodly lady and

The justice of your hearts will thereto add,

‘ 'Tis pity she's not honest, honourable.’
honest (adj.) 1 chaste, pure, virtuous

Praise her but for this her without-door form –
form (n.) 8 physical appearance, outward appearance
without-door (adj.) outward, surface, public

Which, on my faith, deserves high speech – and straight
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

The shrug, the ‘ hum ’ or ‘ ha,’ these petty brands

That calumny doth use – O, I am out!
out (adv.) 1 in error, at fault, wrong

That mercy does, for calumny will sear

Virtue itself – these shrugs, these ‘ hum's’ and ‘ ha's,’

When you have said she's goodly, come between
goodly (adj.) 2 good-looking, handsome, attractive, comely

Ere you can say she's honest. But be't known,
honest (adj.) 1 chaste, pure, virtuous

From him that has most cause to grieve it should be,

She's an adult'ress.


                         Should a villain say so,

The most replenished villain in the world,
replenished (adj.) complete, perfect, consummate

He were as much more villain. You, my lord,

Do but mistake.


                         You have mistook, my lady,

Polixenes for Leontes. O thou thing

Which I'll not call a creature of thy place,
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

Lest barbarism, making me the precedent,

Should a like language use to all degrees,
degree (n.) 1 rank, station, standing
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count

And mannerly distinguishment leave out
distinguishment (n.) distinguishing, distinction, differentiation
mannerly (adj.) 1 well-mannered, courteous, genteel

Betwixt the prince and beggar. I have said

She's an adult'ress; I have said with whom.

More, she's a traitor, and Camillo is

A federary with her, and one that knows
fedary, federary, feodary (n.) confederate, accomplice, accessory

What she should shame to know herself

But with her most vile principal – that she's
principal (n.) 1 person chiefly responsible, leading practitioner

A bed-swerver, even as bad as those
bed-swerver (n.) person unfaithful to the marriage-bed, adulterer/adulteress

That vulgars give bold'st titles; ay, and privy
bold (adj.) 3 shameless, immodest, outspoken, coarse
title (n.) 3 name, label, designation
vulgar (n.) 1 common people, ordinary folk

To this their late escape.


                         No, by my life,

Privy to none of this. How will this grieve you,

When you shall come to clearer knowledge, that

You thus have published me! Gentle my lord,
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count
publish (v.) 3 denounce in public, vilify, show up

You scarce can right me throughly then to say
right (v.) set right, vindicate, give redress
scarce (adv.) 1 scarcely, hardly, barely, only just
throughly (adv.) thoroughly, fully, completely

You did mistake.


                         No: if I mistake

In those foundations which I build upon,

The centre is not big enough to bear
centre (n.) 1 centre of the Earth, axis

A schoolboy's top. Away with her to prison.

He who shall speak for her is afar off guilty
afar off (adv.) indirectly, in a roundabout way

But that he speaks.
ill (adj.) 1 bad, adverse, unfavourable See Topics: Frequency count


                         There's some ill planet reigns.

I must be patient till the heavens look

With an aspect more favourable. Good my lords,
aspect (n.) 4 [astrology] influential phase, direction of alignment See Topics: Cosmos

I am not prone to weeping, as our sex

Commonly are; the want of which vain dew

Perchance shall dry your pities: but I have
perchance (adv.) 1 perhaps, maybe See Topics: Frequency count

That honourable grief lodged here which burns
honourable (adj.) 1 honest, upright, dignified

Worse than tears drown. Beseech you all, my lords,

With thoughts so qualified as your charities
qualified (adj.) 2 of such quality, of such a nature, fitting

Shall best instruct you measure me; and so

The King's will be performed!


                         Shall I be heard?


Who is't that goes with me? Beseech your highness

My women may be with me, for you see

My plight requires it. Do not weep, good fools:
fool (n.) 1 [term of endearment or pity] dear, darling, innocent creature

There is no cause. When you shall know your mistress

Has deserved prison, then abound in tears

As I come out. This action I now go on
action (n.) 5 course of action, enterprise; or: trial, legal process

Is for my better grace. Adieu, my lord.
grace (n.) 1 honour, favour, recognition, respect

I never wished to see you sorry: now
sorry (adj.) 1 sorrowful, painful, sad, pitiable

I trust I shall. My women, come, you have leave.


Go, do our bidding: hence!

Exeunt Hermione, guarded, and Ladies


Beseech your highness, call the Queen again.


Be certain what you do, sir, lest your justice

Prove violence, in the which three great ones suffer:

Yourself, your queen, your son.


                         For her, my lord,

I dare my life lay down, and will do't, sir,

Please you t' accept it, that the Queen is spotless

I'th' eyes of heaven and to you – I mean

In this which you accuse her.


                         If it prove

She's otherwise, I'll keep my stables where

I lodge my wife; I'll go in couples with her;
couples, in in pairs, leashed together

Than when I feel and see her no farther trust her:

For every inch of woman in the world,

Ay, every dram of woman's flesh is false,
dram (n.) 1 tiny amount, small quantity
false (adj.) 2 disloyal, faithless, inconstant, unfaithful

If she be.


                         Hold your peaces.


                                                         Good my lord –


It is for you we speak, not for ourselves.

You are abused, and by some putter-on
putter-on (n.) instigator, inciter, agitator

That will be damned for't. Would I knew the villain!

I would lam-damn him. Be she honour-flawed,
lam-damn (v.) [unclear meaning] beat the hell out of, thrash without pity

I have three daughters: the eldest is eleven;

The second and the third nine and some five:

If this prove true, they'll pay for't. By mine honour,

I'll geld'em all! Fourteen they shall not see

To bring false generations. They are co-heirs;
bring (v.) 5 bring forth, give birth to
false (adj.) 6 illegitimate, bastard
generation (n.) 1 family, progeny

And I had rather glib myself than they
glib (v.) geld, castrate

Should not produce fair issue.
fair (adj.) 10 legitimate, lawful, proper
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count


                         Cease, no more!

You smell this business with a sense as cold

As is a dead man's nose; but I do see't and feel't

As you feel doing thus and see withal

The instruments that feel.


                         If it be so,

We need no grave to bury honesty:
honesty (n.) 1 virtue, chastity

There's not a grain of it the face to sweeten

Of the whole dungy earth.
credit (n.) 2 trust, faith, belief
dungy (adj.) dung-like; or: vile, filthy, loathsome


                         What? Lack I credit?


I had rather you did lack than I, my lord,

Upon this ground; and more it would content me
ground (n.) 1 reason, cause, source

To have her honour true than your suspicion,
content (v.) 1 please, gratify, delight, satisfy

Be blamed for't how you might.


                         Why, what need we

Commune with you of this, but rather follow
commune (v.) 1 talk, converse, discourse

Our forceful instigation? Our prerogative

Calls not your counsels, but our natural goodness

Imparts this; which, if you – or stupefied
stupefied (adj.) lacking the ability to feel, grown insensible

Or seeming so in skill – cannot or will not
skill (n.) 2 discernment, discrimination, capacity to perceive

Relish a truth like us, inform yourselves
relish (v.) 4 appreciate, like, approve of

We need no more of your advice. The matter,

The loss, the gain, the ordering on't, is all

Properly ours.


                         And I wish, my liege,

You had only in your silent judgement tried it,

Without more overture.
overture (n.) 1 disclosure, revelation


                         How could that be?

Either thou art most ignorant by age,

Or thou wert born a fool. Camillo's flight,

Added to their familiarity –

Which was as gross as ever touched conjecture
conjecture (n.) 3 suspicion, misgiving, evil doubt
gross (adj.) 1 plain, striking, evident, obvious
touch (v.) 1 affect, concern, regard, relate to

That lacked sight only, naught for approbation
approbation (n.) 2 proof, confirmation, attestation

But only seeing, all other circumstances

Made up to th' deed – doth push on this proceeding.
make up (v.) 2 contribute, add up, help to produce

Yet, for a greater confirmation –

For in an act of this importance 'twere

Most piteous to be wild – I have dispatched in post
dispatch, despatch (v.) 6 send off, send messengers
post, in in haste, at top speed
wild (adj.) 2 rash, reckless, careless

To sacred Delphos, to Apollo's temple,

Cleomenes and Dion, whom you know

Of stuffed sufficiency. Now from the oracle
stuffed (adj.) 1 full, complete, proven, stored up
sufficiency (n.) competence, ability, capability

They will bring all; whose spiritual counsel, had,

Shall stop or spur me. Have I done well?


Well done, my lord.


Though I am satisfied, and need no more

Than what I know, yet shall the oracle

Give rest to th' minds of others, such as he,

Whose ignorant credulity will not

Come up to th' truth. So have we thought it good

From our free person she should be confined,
confine (v.) 2 banish, remove, place under restriction
free (adj.) 3 noble, honourable, worthy

Lest that the treachery of the two fled hence

Be left her to perform. Come, follow us:

We are to speak in public; for this business

Will raise us all.
raise (v.) 1 rouse, excite, incite



                         To laughter, as I take it,

If the good truth were known.


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