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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene IV.

Twelfth-Night; or, What You Will

A Room in the DUKE’S Palace.

Enter DUKE, VIOLA, CURIO, and Others.

Duke.Give me some music. 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.

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

Duke.Who was it?

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

Duke.Seek him out, and play the tune the while.[Exit CURIO. Music.

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 belov’d. How dost thou like this tune?

Vio.It gives a very echo to the seat

Where love is thron’d.

Duke.Thou dost speak masterly.

My life upon ’t, young though thou art, thine eye

Hath stay’d upon some favour that it loves;

Hath it not, boy?

Vio.A little, by your favour.

Duke.What kind of woman is ’t?

Vio.Of your complexion.

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

Vio.About your years, my lord.

Duke.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.

Vio.I think it well, my lord.

Duke.Then, let thy love be younger than thyself,

Or thy affection cannot hold the bent;

For women are as roses, whose fair flower

Being once display’d, doth fall that very hour.

Vio.And so they are: alas, that they are so;

To die, even when they to perfection grow!

Re-enter CURIO with Clown.

Duke.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.

Clo.Are you ready, sir?

Duke.Ay; prithee, sing.[Music.


  • 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 corse, 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.
  • Duke.There’s for thy pains.

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

    Duke.I’ll pay thy pleasure then.

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

    Duke.Give me now leave to leave thee.

    Clo.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.[Exit.

    Duke.Let all the rest give place.[Exeunt CURIO and Attendants.
    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 bestow’d 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.

    Vio.But if she cannot love you, sir?

    Duke.I cannot be so answer’d.

    Vio.Sooth, but you must.

    Say that some lady, as perhaps, there is,

    Hath for your love as great a pang of heart

    As you have for Olivia: you cannot love her;

    You tell her so; must she not then be answer’d?

    Duke.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 call’d 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.

    Vio.Ay, but I know,—

    Duke.What dost thou know?

    Vio.Too well what love women to men may owe:

    In faith, they are as true of heart as we.

    My father had a daughter lov’d a man,

    As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,

    I should your lordship.

    Duke.And what’s her history?

    Vio.A blank, my lord. She never told her love,

    But let concealment, like a worm i’ the bud,

    Feed on her damask cheek: she pin’d 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.

    Duke.But died thy sister of her love, my boy?

    Vio.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?

    Duke.Ay, that’s the theme.

    To her in haste; give her this jewel; say

    My love can give no place, bide no denay.[Exeunt.