Love's Labour's Lost

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Ferdinand, King of Navarre, Berowne, Longaville,

and Dumaine


Let fame, that all hunt after in their lives,

Live registered upon our brazen tombs,
brazen (adj.) 1 everlasting, imperishable, impenetrable

And then grace us in the disgrace of death;
disgrace (n.) 2 disfigurement, marring

When, spite of cormorant devouring Time,
cormorant (adj.) greedy, insatiable, all-devouring

The endeavour of this present breath may buy
breath (n.) 1 utterance, speech, voice

That honour which shall bate his scythe's keen edge,
bate (v.) 1 abate, modify, lessen

And make us heirs of all eternity.

Therefore, brave conquerors – for so you are,

That war against your own affections
affection (n.) 3 desire, passion, lustful feeling

And the huge army of the world's desires –

Our late edict shall strongly stand in force:
late (adj.) 1 recent, not long past

Navarre shall be the wonder of the world;

Our court shall be a little academe,
academe (n.) academy, place of learning

Still and contemplative in living art.
art (n.) 1 knowledge, learning, scholarship, science
still (adj.) 2 quiet, calm, subdued

You three, Berowne, Dumaine, and Longaville,

Have sworn for three years' term to live with me,

My fellow-scholars, and to keep those statutes

That are recorded in this schedule here.
schedule (n.) 1 inventory, list, itemization

Your oaths are passed; and now subscribe your names,

That his own hand may strike his honour down

That violates the smallest branch herein.
branch (n.) division, section, part [of an argument]

If you are armed to do as sworn to do,
armed (adj.) 2 provided, ready, prepared [for]

Subscribe to your deep oaths, and keep it too.
subscribe to (v.) 3 sign, endorse, put one's name to


I am resolved. 'Tis but a three years' fast.

The mind shall banquet though the body pine.

Fat paunches have lean pates, and dainty bits
bit (n.) morsel, scrap, titbit
pate (n.) head, skull See Topics: Frequency count

Make rich the ribs but bankrupt quite the wits.
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)

He signs
mortified (adj.) 2 dead to earthly pleasures, insensible to worldly desires


My loving lord, Dumaine is mortified.

The grosser manner of these world's delights
gross (adj.) 7 coarse, vulgar, unrefined

He throws upon the gross world's baser slaves.
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count

To love, to wealth, to pomp, I pine and die,

With all these living in philosophy.

He signs
protestation (n.) solemn declaration, affirmation


I can but say their protestation over.

So much, dear liege, I have already sworn,

That is, to live and study here three years.

But there are other strict observances:

As not to see a woman in that term –

Which I hope well is not enrolled there;
enrol (v.) record, register, legally enter

And one day in a week to touch no food,

And but one meal on every day beside –

The which I hope is not enrolled there;

And then to sleep but three hours in the night,

And not be seen to wink of all the day,
wink (v.) 5 sleep, doze, nod off

When I was wont to think no harm all night,
wont (v.) be accustomed, used [to], be in the habit of See Topics: Frequency count

And make a dark night too of half the day –

Which I hope well is not enrolled there.

O, these are barren tasks, too hard to keep,

Not to see ladies, study, fast, not sleep.


Your oath is passed, to pass away from these.


Let me say no, my liege, an if you please.

I only swore to study with your grace,

And stay here in your court for three years' space.


You swore to that, Berowne, and to the rest.


By yea and nay, sir, then I swore in jest.

What is the end of study, let me know?


Why, that to know which else we should not know.


Things hid and barred, you mean, from common sense?
common (adj.) 1 average, usual, general, ordinary
sense (n.) 4 perception, awareness, discernment, appreciation


Ay, that is study's god-like recompense.


Com'on then, I will swear to study so,

To know the thing I am forbid to know:

As thus – to study where I well may dine,
study (v.) 1 deliberate, meditate, reflect [on]

When I to feast expressly am forbid;

Or study where to meet some mistress fine,

When mistresses from common sense are hid;

Or, having sworn too hard-a-keeping oath,
hard-a-keeping (adj.) too hard to keep

Study to break it and not break my troth.
troth (n.) 1 truth, good faith See Topics: Swearing

If study's gain be thus, and this be so,

Study knows that which yet it doth not know.

Swear me to this, and I will ne'er say no.


These be the stops that hinder study quite,
stop (n.) 1 obstruction, obstacle, hindrance

And train our intellects to vain delight.
train (v.) 1 lure, entice, decoy


Why, all delights are vain, but that most vain

Which, with pain purchased, doth inherit pain:
inherit (v.) 1 receive, obtain, come into possession [of]

As painfully to pore upon a book
painfully (adv.) diligently, taking great pains

To seek the light of truth, while truth the while

Doth falsely blind the eyesight of his look.
falsely (adv.) treacherously, deceitfully, dishonestly

Light seeking light doth light of light beguile;
beguile (v.) 2 deprive by deception, cheat out of

So, ere you find where light in darkness lies,

Your light grows dark by losing of your eyes.

Study me how to please the eye indeed

By fixing it upon a fairer eye,

Who dazzling so, that eye shall be his heed,
heed (n.) 2 that which one heeds; or: guardian

And give him light that it was blinded by.

Study is like the heaven's glorious sun,

That will not be deep-searched with saucy looks.
saucy (adj.) 1 insolent, impudent, presumptuous, defiant

Small have continual plodders ever won,

Save base authority from others' books.
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count

These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights,

That give a name to every fixed star,

Have no more profit of their shining nights
shining (adj.) brightly lit, illuminated

Than those that walk and wot not what they are.
wot (v.) 1 learn, know, be told See Topics: Frequency count

Too much to know is to know naught but fame,

And every godfather can give a name.


How well he's read, to reason against reading.


Proceeded well, to stop all good proceeding.


He weeds the corn, and still lets grow the weeding.


The spring is near when green geese are a-breeding.


How follows that?
fit (adj.) 1 suited, fitting, appropriate


                         Fit in his place and time.


In reason nothing.


                         Something then in rhyme.


Berowne is like an envious sneaping frost
envious (adj.) malicious, spiteful, vindictive, full of enmity See Topics: Frequency count
sneaping (adj.) nipping, biting, sharp

That bites the first-born infants of the spring.


Well, say I am! Why should proud summer boast

Before the birds have any cause to sing?

Why should I joy in an abortive birth?
abortive (adj.) 1 monstrous, defective, unnatural

At Christmas I no more desire a rose

Than wish a snow in May's new-fangled shows,

But like of each thing that in season grows.
like of (v.) admire, enjoy, derive pleasure from

So you, to study now it is too late,

Climb o'er the house to unlock the little gate.


Well, sit you out. Go home, Berowne. Adieu!


No, my good lord, I have sworn to stay with you.

And though I have for barbarism spoke more
barbarism (n.) 2 lack of culture, uncivilized ignorance

Than for that angel knowledge you can say,

Yet, confident, I'll keep what I have sworn,

And bide the penance of each three years' day.

Give me the paper, let me read the same,

And to the strictest decrees I'll write my name.


How well this yielding rescues thee from shame!
yielding (n.) consent, compliance, agreement



Item: that no woman shall come within

a mile of my court – hath this been proclaimed?


Four days ago.


Let's see the penalty – on pain of losing her

tongue. Who devised this penalty?


Marry, that did I.


Sweet lord, and why?


To fright them hence with that dread penalty.
dread (adj.) 2 frightening, terrifying, fearful
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count


A dangerous law against gentility!
gentility (n.) 2 good manners, polite behaviour

Item: if any man be seen to talk with a woman within the

term of three years, he shall endure such public shame as

the rest of the court can possibly devise.

This article, my liege, yourself must break;

For well you know here comes in embassy
embassy (n.) 2 ambassadorial role, function as ambassador

The French King's daughter with yourself to speak –

A maid of grace and complete majesty –

About surrender up of Aquitaine

To her decrepit, sick, and bedrid father.
bedrid, bed-rid, bedred (adj.) bed-ridden, confined to bed through infirmity

Therefore this article is made in vain,

Or vainly comes th' admired Princess hither.


What say you, lords? Why, this was quite forgot.


So study evermore is overshot.
overshoot (v.) 1 [miss a target by shooting too high] go astray in aim, wide of the mark

While it doth study to have what it would,

It doth forget to do the thing it should;

And when it hath the thing it hunteth most,

'Tis won as towns with fire – so won, so lost.


We must of force dispense with this decree.
dispense with (v.) 3 gain exemption from, set aside, dissolve
force, of necessarily, of necessity, whether one will or not

She must lie here on mere necessity.
lie (v.) 1 live, dwell, reside, lodge
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count


Necessity will make us all forsworn
forswear (v), past forms forsworn, forswore 1 swear falsely, perjure [oneself], break one's word See Topics: Frequency count

Three thousand times within this three years' space;

For every man with his affects is born,
affect (n.) 1 desire, passion, appetite

Not by might mastered, but by special grace.
grace (n.) 8 means of salvation, divine favour
special (adj.) particular, specific, distinctive

If I break faith, this word shall speak for me:

I am forsworn on mere ‘ necessity.’

So to the laws at large I write my name,
large, at 2 in general, as a whole

And he that breaks them in the least degree

Stands in attainder of eternal shame.
attainder (n.) 1 accusation, allegation, denunciation

Suggestions are to other as to me,
suggestion (n.) temptation, instigation, prompting towards evil

But I believe, although I seem so loath,

I am the last that will last keep his oath.

He signs
quick (adj.) 2 lively, animated, vivacious

But is there no quick recreation granted?


Ay, that there is. Our court, you know, is haunted
haunt (v.) 1 frequent, visit habitually

With a refined traveller of Spain;

A man in all the world's new fashion planted,

That hath a mint of phrases in his brain;

One who the music of his own vain tongue

Doth ravish like enchanting harmony;
ravish (v.) 1 entrance, enrapture, carry away with joy See Topics: Archaisms

A man of compliments, whom right and wrong
compliment, complement (n.) 1 example of good manners, instance of proper behaviour

Have chose as umpire of their mutiny.
mutiny (n.) 1 riot, civil disturbance, state of discord

This child of fancy, that Armado hight,
fancy (n.) 6 fancifulness, flamboyance, showiness
hight (v.) [archaism] is called See Topics: Archaisms

For interim to our studies shall relate
interim (n.) interval, break, interlude

In high-born words the worth of many a knight
high-born (adj.) noble, lofty, grand

From tawny Spain, lost in the world's debate.
debate (n.) quarrel, wrangling, strife

How you delight, my lords, I know not, I,

But I protest I love to hear him lie,

And I will use him for my minstrelsy.
minstrelsy (n.) 2 court singer


Armado is a most illustrious wight,
wight (n.) [archaism] person, human being See Topics: Archaisms

A man of fire-new words, fashion's own knight.
fire-new (adj.) fresh from the fire, brand-new, freshly minted


Costard the swain and he shall be our sport,
sport (n.) 1 recreation, amusement, entertainment See Topics: Frequency count
swain (n.) 1 [contemptuous] rustic, yokel, fellow

And so to study three years is but short.

Enter Dull with a letter,

and Costard


Which is the Duke's own person?


This, fellow. What wouldst?


I myself reprehend his own person, for I am his
reprehend (v.) 2 malapropism for ‘represent’

grace's farborough. But I would see his own person in
farborough (n.) malapropism for ‘thirdborough’ [= parish officer]

flesh and blood.


This is he.


Signeour Arm-, Arm-, commends you. There's
commend (v.) 1 convey greetings, present kind regards See Topics: Frequency count

villainy abroad. This letter will tell you more.
abroad (adv.) 2 around, about, on the move


Sir, the contempts thereof are as touching me.
contempts (n.) malapropism for ‘contents’
touch (v.) 1 affect, concern, regard, relate to


A letter from the magnificent Armado.
magnificent (adj.) grand, stately, majestic


How low soever the matter, I hope in God for

high words.


A high hope for a low heaven. God grant us



To hear, or forbear hearing?
forbear (v.) 1 stop, cease, desist See Topics: Frequency count


To hear meekly, sir, and to laugh moderately;

or to forbear both.


Well, sir, be it as the style shall give us cause to

climb in the merriness.


The matter is to me, sir, as concerning Jaquenetta.
matter (n.) 4 affair(s), business, real issue

The manner of it is, I was taken with the

manner (n.) 6 [legal] act, work, deed


In what manner?


In manner and form following, sir – all those
form (n.) 5 way of behaving, behaviour, code of conduct

three: I was seen with her in the ' manor '-house, sitting

with her upon the ‘ form,’ and taken ‘ following ’ her
form (n.) 11 bench

into the park; which, put together, is ‘ in manner and

form following.’ Now, sir, for the ‘ manner ’ – it is the

manner of a man to speak to a woman. For the ‘ form ’

– in some form.


For the ‘ following,’ sir?


As it shall follow in my correction – and God
correction (n.) punishment, retribution, rebuke

defend the right!


Will you hear this letter with attention?


As we would hear an oracle.


Such is the simplicity of man to hearken after
hearken after (v.) 2 hanker for, be attracted to

the flesh.


vicegerent (n.) 2 deputy, second-in-command
welkin (n.) sky, firmament, heavens

Great deputy, the welkin's vicegerent, and

sole dominator of Navarre, my soul's earth's god, and
dominator (n.) ruler, lord, sovereign

body's fostering patron –


Not a word of Costard yet.


So it is –


It may be so; but if he say it is so, he is, in

telling true – but so.
so (adv.) average, middling, so-so




Be to me and every man that dares not fight.


No words!


Of other men's secrets, I beseech you.
secret (n.) private affair, confidence


So it is, besieged with sable-coloured melancholy, I did

commend the black oppressing humour to the most wholesome

physic of thy health-giving air; and, as I am a
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count
physic (n.) 1 medicine, healing, treatment See Topics: Frequency count

gentleman, betook myself to walk. The time when? About
betake (v.) 1 go, take oneself off, make one's way

the sixth hour; when beasts most graze, birds best peck,

and men sit down to that nourishment which is called

supper. So much for the time when. Now for the ground

which – which, I mean, I walked upon. It is yclept thy
yclept (v.) [archaism] called

park. Then for the place where – where, I mean, I did

encounter that obscene and most preposterous event that
obscene (adj.) disgusting, offensive, repulsive
preposterous (adj.) 2 totally out of place, extremely improper

draweth from my snow-white pen the ebon-coloured ink
ebon (adj.) 1 ebony, black

which here thou viewest, beholdest, surveyest, or seest. But

to the place where. It standeth north-north-east and by

east from the west corner of thy curious-knotted garden.
curious-knotted (adj.) with intricate patterns of flower-beds

There did I see that low-spirited swain, that base minnow
base (adj.) 2 low-born, lowly, plebeian, of lower rank See Topics: Frequency count
low-spirited (adj.) ignoble, abject, cowardly
minnow (n.) [variety of fish] insignificant object
swain (n.) 1 [contemptuous] rustic, yokel, fellow

of thy mirth –




That unlettered small-knowing soul –
unlettered (adj.) illiterate, unread




That shallow vassal –
shallow (adj.) naive, gullible, lacking in depth of character
vassal (n.) 2 wretch, creature, slave


Still me?


Which, as I remember, hight Costard –
hight (v.) [archaism] is called See Topics: Archaisms


O, me!


Sorted and consorted, contrary to thy established
consort (v.) accompany, attend, go with
sort (v.) 4 associate, keep company with

proclaimed edict and continent canon, which with – O, with –
canon (n.) 1 law, decree, rule
continent (adj.) 2 restrictive, constraining, enforcing restraint

but with this I passion to say wherewith –
passion (v.) experience deep feeling, be profoundly moved, grieve


With a wench.
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count


With a child of our grandmother Eve, a female, or, for

thy more sweet understanding, a woman. Him I – as my

ever-esteemed duty pricks me on – have sent to thee, to
prick on (v.) incite, urge on, spur on

receive the meed of punishment, by thy sweet grace's officer,
meed (n.) 1 reward, prize, recompense

Anthony Dull, a man of good repute, carriage, bearing,
carriage (n.) 1 bearing, demeanour, manner of behaviour

and estimation.
estimation (n.) 1 esteem, respect, reputation


Me, an't shall please you. I am Anthony Dull.


For Jaquenetta – so is the weaker vessel called –
vessel (n.) body, frame

which I apprehended with the aforesaid swain, I keep her
apprehend (v.) 1 seize, arrest, lay hold of

as a vessel of thy law's fury, and shall, at the least of thy

sweet notice, bring her to trial. Thine in all compliments of
notice (n.) 1 information, intelligence, notification

devoted and heart-burning heat of duty,

Don Adriano de Armado.


This is not so well as I looked for, but the best

that ever I heard.


Ay, the best for the worst. But, sirrah, what say you

to this?


Sir, I confess the wench.


Did you hear the proclamation?


I do confess much of the hearing it, but little of

the marking of it.
marking (n.) noting, notice, attending [to]


It was proclaimed a year's imprisonment to be taken

with a wench.


I was taken with none, sir; I was taken with a



Well, it was proclaimed ‘ damsel.’


This was no damsel neither, sir; she was a



It is so varied too, for it was proclaimed ‘ virgin.’
vary (v.) 1 express in fresh words, verbalize anew


If it were, I deny her virginity. I was taken with

a maid.


This ‘ maid ’ will not serve your turn, sir.
serve one's turn meet one's need, answer one's requirements
turn (n.) 1 need, requirement, purpose [especially in the phrase ‘serve one's turn’ = meet one's need]


This maid will serve my turn, sir.


Sir, I will pronounce your sentence: you shall fast a

week with bran and water.


I had rather pray a month with mutton and

porridge (n.) meat and vegetable stew or broth [reputed to produce strength]


And Don Armado shall be your keeper.

My lord Berowne, see him delivered o'er;
deliver (v.) 4 hand over, convey, commit to the keeping [of someone]

And go we, lords, to put in practice that

Which each to other hath so strongly sworn.

Exeunt King, Longaville, and Dumaine


I'll lay my head to any goodman's hat
goodman (adj.) 1 title for a person under the rank of gentleman, yeoman See Topics: Address forms
lay (v.) 12 wager, stake, bet

These oaths and laws will prove an idle scorn.
idle (adj.) 1 useless, barren, worthless

Sirrah, come on.


I suffer for the truth, sir; for true it is I was

taken with Jaquenetta, and Jaquenetta is a true girl.
true (adj.) 4 honest, upright, law-abiding

And therefore welcome the sour cup of prosperity!
sour (adj.) bitter, harsh, painful

Affliction may one day smile again, and till then sit

thee down, sorrow!


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