The Winter's Tale

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Leontes


Nor night nor day no rest! It is but weakness

To bear the matter thus, mere weakness. If
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

The cause were not in being – part o'th' cause,

She, th' adult'ress: for the harlot-king
harlot (adj.) lewd, lascivious, licentious

Is quite beyond mine arm, out of the blank
blank (n.) 1 bull's-eye, target centre; or: line of sight

And level of my brain, plot-proof; but she
level (n.) 1 [archery] direct aim, target, range

I can hook to me – say that she were gone,
hook (v.) attach, secure, make fast [as with a hook]

Given to the fire, a moiety of my rest
moiety (n.) 1 share, portion, part

Might come to me again. Who's there?

Enter Servant


                         My lord?


How does the boy?


                         He took good rest tonight.

'Tis hoped his sickness is discharged.
discharge (v.) 7 eradicate, remove, get rid of


To see his nobleness!

Conceiving the dishonour of his mother,

He straight declined, drooped, took it deeply,
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Fastened and fixed the shame on't in himself;

Threw off his spirit, his appetite, his sleep,

And downright languished. Leave me solely. Go,
solely (adv.) 2 alone, by oneself

See how he fares.

Exit Servant
fare (v.) 1 get on, manage, do, cope See Topics: Frequency count

                         Fie, fie, no thought of him!

The thought of my revenges that way

Recoil upon me: in himself too mighty,

And in his parties, his alliance. Let him be
party (n.) 4 participant, accessory, supporter

Until a time may serve; for present vengeance

Take it on her. Camillo and Polixenes

Laugh at me, make their pastime at my sorrow.

They should not laugh if I could reach them, nor

Shall she within my power.

Enter Paulina, carrying a baby, followed by Antigonus,

Lords, and the Servant, who try to prevent her


                         You must not enter.


Nay, rather, good my lords, be second to me.
second (n.) 1 supporter, helper, champion

Fear you his tyrannous passion more, alas,

Than the Queen's life? A gracious, innocent soul,

More free than he is jealous.
free (adj.) 5 innocent, guiltless


                         That's enough.


Madam, he hath not slept tonight, commanded

None should come at him.
hot (adj.) 2 enthusiastic, ardent, eager, keen


                         Not so hot, good sir.

I come to bring him sleep. 'Tis such as you,

That creep like shadows by him, and do sigh

At each his needless heavings – such as you
heaving (n.) groan, deep sigh

Nourish the cause of his awaking. I

Do come with words as med'cinal as true,

Honest as either, to purge him of that humour
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count
purge (v.) 1 cleanse, purify, get rid of impurities [in]

That presses him from sleep.
press (v.) 3 oppress, burden, weigh down


                         What noise there, ho?


No noise, my lord, but needful conference

About some gossips for your highness.
gossip (n.) 1 godparent, baptismal sponsor



Away with that audacious lady! Antigonus,

I charged thee that she should not come about me.

I knew she would.


                         I told her so, my lord,

On your displeasure's peril, and on mine,

She should not visit you.


                         What? Canst not rule her?


From all dishonesty he can. In this –
dishonesty (n.) 1 dishonour, shameful deed, disgraceful action

Unless he take the course that you have done:
course (n.) 1 course of action, way of proceeding See Topics: Frequency count

Commit me for committing honour – trust it,
commit (v.) 3 send to jail, put in custody, imprison

He shall not rule me.


                         La you now, you hear.

When she will take the rein, I let her run;

But she'll not stumble.


                         Good my liege, I come –

And I beseech you hear me, who professes

Myself your loyal servant, your physician,

Your most obedient counsellor; yet that dares

Less appear so in comforting your evils
comfort (v.) 1 encourage, condone, countenance
evil (n.) 2 malady, illness, disease

Than such as most seem yours – I say, I come

From your good queen.


                         Good queen?


Good queen, my lord, good queen, I say good queen;

And would by combat make her good, so were I
make good 1 justify, vindicate, confirm

A man, the worst about you.
worst (n.) 1 weakest, least powerful


                         Force her hence.


Let him that makes but trifles of his eyes

First hand me. On mine own accord I'll off,

But first I'll do my errand. The good Queen –

For she is good – hath brought you forth a daughter:

Here 'tis; commends it to your blessing.

She lays down the child
commend (v.) 3 present, introduce, bring [for favourable acceptance]



A mankind witch! Hence with her, out o' door!
mankind (adj.) man-like, mannish

A most intelligencing bawd!
bawd (n.) pimp, procurer, pander, go-between See Topics: Frequency count
intelligencing (adj.) spying, acting as go-between


                         Not so:

I am as ignorant in that as you

In so entitling me; and no less honest
honest (adj.) 1 chaste, pure, virtuous

Than you are mad; which is enough, I'll warrant,
warrant (v.) 1 assure, promise, guarantee, confirm See Topics: Frequency count

As this world goes, to pass for honest.



Will you not push her out? Give her the bastard.

(To Antigonus) Thou dotard, thou art woman-tired, unroosted

By thy Dame Partlet here. Take up the bastard!

Take't up, I say! Give't to thy crone.
crone (n.) old hag, withered old woman


                         For ever

Unvenerable be thy hands if thou

Tak'st up the Princess by that forced baseness
baseness (n.) 2 debasement, lowly state, humiliation
forced (adj.) 1 enforced, imposed, constrained

Which he has put upon't!


                         He dreads his wife.


So I would you did: then 'twere past all doubt

You'd call your children yours.


                         A nest of traitors!


I am none, by this good light!


                         Nor I, nor any

But one that's here, and that's himself: for he

The sacred honour of himself, his queen's,

His hopeful son's, his babe's, betrays to slander,

Whose sting is sharper than the sword's; and will not –

For, as the case now stands, it is a curse

He cannot be compelled to't – once remove

The root of his opinion, which is rotten

As ever oak or stone was sound.


                         A callat

Of boundless tongue, who late hath beat her husband,

And now baits me! This brat is none of mine:
bait (v.) 1 harass, persecute, torment

It is the issue of Polixenes.
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Hence with it, and together with the dam

Commit them to the fire!


                         It is yours;

And, might we lay th' old proverb to your charge,

So like you, 'tis the worse. Behold, my lords,

Although the print be little, the whole matter
matter (n.) 3 stuff, soul, substance
print (n.) imprint, image, stamped impression

And copy of the father: eye, nose, lip;

The trick of's frown; his forehead; nay, the valley,
frown (n.) 2 brow, forehead
trick (n.) 1 habit, characteristic, typical behaviour
valley (n.) indentation, hollow [e.g. in the upper lip, or beneath the lower lip]

The pretty dimples of his chin and cheek; his smiles;

The very mould and frame of hand, nail, finger.

And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it

So like to him that got it, if thou hast
get (v.) 1 beget, conceive, breed
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count

The ordering of the mind too, 'mongst all colours

No yellow in't, lest she suspect, as he does,
yellow (n.) 1 [colour of] jealousy

Her children not her husband's!


                         A gross hag!

And, losel, thou art worthy to be hanged,
losel, lozel (n.) worthless fellow, rogue, scoundrel

That wilt not stay her tongue.


                         Hang all the husbands

That cannot do that feat, you'll leave yourself

Hardly one subject.


                         Once more, take her hence.


A most unworthy and unnatural lord

Can do no more.


                         I'll ha' thee burned.


                                                         I care not:

It is an heretic that makes the fire,

Not she which burns in't. I'll not call you tyrant;

But this most cruel usage of your queen –

Not able to produce more accusation

Than your own weak-hinged fancy – something savours
something (adv.) 1 somewhat, rather See Topics: Frequency count

Of tyranny, and will ignoble make you,

Yea, scandalous to the world.


                         On your allegiance,

Out of the chamber with her! Were I a tyrant,

Where were her life? She durst not call me so,

If she did know me one. Away with her!

They slowly push her towards the door


I pray you, do not push me, I'll be gone.

Look to your babe, my lord; 'tis yours. Jove send her

A better guiding spirit! What needs these hands?

You that are thus so tender o'er his follies
tender (adj.) 3 thoughtful, considerate, solicitous

Will never do him good, not one of you.

So, so. Farewell, we are gone.



Thou, traitor, hast set on thy wife to this.

My child? Away with't! Even thou, that hast

A heart so tender o'er it, take it hence

And see it instantly consumed with fire:

Even thou, and none but thou. Take it up straight!:
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Within this hour bring me word 'tis done,

And by good testimony, or I'll seize thy life,

With what thou else call'st thine. If thou refuse,

And wilt encounter with my wrath, say so:

The bastard brains with these my proper hands
proper (adj.) 2 very, own

Shall I dash out. Go, take it to the fire,

For thou set'st on thy wife.


                         I did not, sir.

These lords, my noble fellows, if they please,

Can clear me in't.


                         We can. My royal liege,

He is not guilty of her coming hither.


You're liars all.


Beseech your highness, give us better credit.

We have always truly served you, and beseech'

So to esteem of us; and on our knees we beg,

As recompense of our dear services
dear (adj.) 6 heartfelt, earnest, zealous

Past and to come, that you do change this purpose,
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

Which being so horrible, so bloody, must

Lead on to some foul issue. We all kneel.
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count


I am a feather for each wind that blows.

Shall I live on to see this bastard kneel

And call me father? Better burn it now

Than curse it then. But be it: let it live.

It shall not neither. (To Antigonus) You, sir, come you hither:

You that have been so tenderly officious
officious (adj.) 2 obliging, attentive, diligent

With Lady Margery, your midwife there,

To save this bastard's life – for 'tis a bastard,

So sure as this beard's grey – what will you adventure
adventure (v.) venture, dare, chance, risk

To save this brat's life?


                         Anything, my lord,

That my ability may undergo,
ability (n.) 1 strength, bodily power
undergo (v.) 1 undertake, carry out, perform

And nobleness impose – at least thus much:

I'll pawn the little blood which I have left
pawn (v.) stake, pledge, risk

To save the innocent – anything possible.


It shall be possible. Swear by this sword

Thou wilt perform my bidding.


(his hand upon the hilt)

                         I will, my lord.


Mark and perform it, see'st thou? For the fail
fail (n.) 1 failure [to comply with], lack
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

Of any point in't shall not only be

Death to thyself, but to thy lewd-tongued wife,
lewd-tongued (adj.) foul-mouthed, scurrilous, abusive

Whom for this time we pardon. We enjoin thee,

As thou art liegeman to us, that thou carry
liegeman (n.) vassal, subject, follower

This female bastard hence, and that thou bear it

To some remote and desert place, quite out

Of our dominions; and that there thou leave it,

Without more mercy, to its own protection

And favour of the climate. As by strange fortune
climate (n.) 1 region, country [without reference to climatic conditions]
favour (n.) 9 leniency, kindness, clemency

It came to us, I do in justice charge thee,

On thy soul's peril and thy body's torture,

That thou commend it strangely to some place
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over
strangely (adv.) 2 as a stranger, as a foreigner

Where chance may nurse or end it. Take it up.


I swear to do this, though a present death

Had been more merciful. Come on, poor babe,

Some powerful spirit instruct the kites and ravens
kite (n.) bird of prey; thieving bird [of ill omen; also, strong term of abuse]

To be thy nurses! Wolves and bears, they say,

Casting their savageness aside, have done

Like offices of pity. Sir, be prosperous
like (adj.) 1 same, similar, alike, equal See Topics: Frequency count
office (n.) 5 service, sympathy, kindness

In more than this deed does require! And blessing

Against this cruelty fight on thy side,

Poor thing, condemned to loss!

Exit with the child
loss (n.) 1 perdition, destruction


                         No, I'll not rear

Another's issue.

Enter a Servant
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count
post (n.) 1 express messenger, courier See Topics: Frequency count


                         Please your highness, posts

From those you sent to th' oracle are come

An hour since: Cleomenes and Dion,

Being well arrived from Delphos, are both landed,

Hasting to th' court.


                         So please you, sir, their speed

Hath been beyond accompt.
account, accompt (n.) 5 expectation, precedent, normal explanation


                         Twenty-three days

They have been absent. 'Tis good speed; foretells

The great Apollo suddenly will have
suddenly (adv.) 1 immediately, at once, without delay

The truth of this appear. Prepare you, lords.

Summon a session, that we may arraign
session, sessions (n.) judicial assembly, trial, court

Our most disloyal lady: for as she hath

Been publicly accused, so shall she have

A just and open trial. While she lives

My heart will be a burden to me. Leave me,

And think upon my bidding.


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