Speeches (Lines) for Polixenes
in "Winter's Tale"

Total: 57

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# Act, Scene, Line
(Click to see in context)
Speech text

1

I,2,50

(stage directions). [Enter LEONTES, HERMIONE, MAMILLIUS,]
POLIXENES, CAMILLO, and Attendants]

Polixenes. Nine changes of the watery star hath been
The shepherd's note since we have left our throne
Without a burthen: time as long again
Would be find up, my brother, with our thanks;
And yet we should, for perpetuity,
Go hence in debt: and therefore, like a cipher,
Yet standing in rich place, I multiply
With one 'We thank you' many thousands moe
That go before it.


2

I,2,61

Leontes. Stay your thanks a while;
And pay them when you part.

Polixenes. Sir, that's to-morrow.
I am question'd by my fears, of what may chance
Or breed upon our absence; that may blow
No sneaping winds at home, to make us say
'This is put forth too truly:' besides, I have stay'd
To tire your royalty.


3

I,2,69

Leontes. We are tougher, brother,
Than you can put us to't.

Polixenes. No longer stay.


4

I,2,71

Leontes. One seven-night longer.

Polixenes. Very sooth, to-morrow.


5

I,2,74

Leontes. We'll part the time between's then; and in that
I'll no gainsaying.

Polixenes. Press me not, beseech you, so.
There is no tongue that moves, none, none i' the world,
So soon as yours could win me: so it should now,
Were there necessity in your request, although
'Twere needful I denied it. My affairs
Do even drag me homeward: which to hinder
Were in your love a whip to me; my stay
To you a charge and trouble: to save both,
Farewell, our brother.


6

I,2,103

Hermione. To tell, he longs to see his son, were strong:
But let him say so then, and let him go;
But let him swear so, and he shall not stay,
We'll thwack him hence with distaffs.
Yet of your royal presence I'll adventure
The borrow of a week. When at Bohemia
You take my lord, I'll give him my commission
To let him there a month behind the gest
Prefix'd for's parting: yet, good deed, Leontes,
I love thee not a jar o' the clock behind
What lady-she her lord. You'll stay?

Polixenes. No, madam.


7

I,2,105

Hermione. Nay, but you will?

Polixenes. I may not, verily.


8

I,2,118

Hermione. Verily!
You put me off with limber vows; but I,
Though you would seek to unsphere the
stars with oaths,
Should yet say 'Sir, no going.' Verily,
You shall not go: a lady's 'Verily' 's
As potent as a lord's. Will you go yet?
Force me to keep you as a prisoner,
Not like a guest; so you shall pay your fees
When you depart, and save your thanks. How say you?
My prisoner? or my guest? by your dread 'Verily,'
One of them you shall be.

Polixenes. Your guest, then, madam:
To be your prisoner should import offending;
Which is for me less easy to commit
Than you to punish.


9

I,2,126

Hermione. Not your gaoler, then,
But your kind hostess. Come, I'll question you
Of my lord's tricks and yours when you were boys:
You were pretty lordings then?

Polixenes. We were, fair queen,
Two lads that thought there was no more behind
But such a day to-morrow as to-day,
And to be boy eternal.


10

I,2,132

Hermione. Was not my lord
The verier wag o' the two?

Polixenes. We were as twinn'd lambs that did frisk i' the sun,
And bleat the one at the other: what we changed
Was innocence for innocence; we knew not
The doctrine of ill-doing, nor dream'd
That any did. Had we pursued that life,
And our weak spirits ne'er been higher rear'd
With stronger blood, we should have answer'd heaven
Boldly 'not guilty;' the imposition clear'd
Hereditary ours.


11

I,2,143

Hermione. By this we gather
You have tripp'd since.

Polixenes. O my most sacred lady!
Temptations have since then been born to's; for
In those unfledged days was my wife a girl;
Your precious self had then not cross'd the eyes
Of my young play-fellow.


12

I,2,226

Leontes. Thou want'st a rough pash and the shoots that I have,
To be full like me: yet they say we are
Almost as like as eggs; women say so,
That will say anything but were they false
As o'er-dyed blacks, as wind, as waters, false
As dice are to be wish'd by one that fixes
No bourn 'twixt his and mine, yet were it true
To say this boy were like me. Come, sir page,
Look on me with your welkin eye: sweet villain!
Most dear'st! my collop! Can thy dam?—may't be?—
Affection! thy intention stabs the centre:
Thou dost make possible things not so held,
Communicatest with dreams;—how can this be?—
With what's unreal thou coactive art,
And fellow'st nothing: then 'tis very credent
Thou mayst co-join with something; and thou dost,
And that beyond commission, and I find it,
And that to the infection of my brains
And hardening of my brows.

Polixenes. What means Sicilia?


13

I,2,228

Hermione. He something seems unsettled.

Polixenes. How, my lord!
What cheer? how is't with you, best brother?


14

I,2,248

Leontes. You will! why, happy man be's dole! My brother,
Are you so fond of your young prince as we
Do seem to be of ours?

Polixenes. If at home, sir,
He's all my exercise, my mirth, my matter,
Now my sworn friend and then mine enemy,
My parasite, my soldier, statesman, all:
He makes a July's day short as December,
And with his varying childness cures in me
Thoughts that would thick my blood.


15

I,2,480

(stage directions). [Re-enter POLIXENES]

Polixenes. This is strange: methinks
My favour here begins to warp. Not speak?
Good day, Camillo.


16

I,2,484

Camillo. Hail, most royal sir!

Polixenes. What is the news i' the court?


17

I,2,486

Camillo. None rare, my lord.

Polixenes. The king hath on him such a countenance
As he had lost some province and a region
Loved as he loves himself: even now I met him
With customary compliment; when he,
Wafting his eyes to the contrary and falling
A lip of much contempt, speeds from me and
So leaves me to consider what is breeding
That changeth thus his manners.


18

I,2,495

Camillo. I dare not know, my lord.

Polixenes. How! dare not! do not. Do you know, and dare not?
Be intelligent to me: 'tis thereabouts;
For, to yourself, what you do know, you must.
And cannot say, you dare not. Good Camillo,
Your changed complexions are to me a mirror
Which shows me mine changed too; for I must be
A party in this alteration, finding
Myself thus alter'd with 't.


19

I,2,507

Camillo. There is a sickness
Which puts some of us in distemper, but
I cannot name the disease; and it is caught
Of you that yet are well.

Polixenes. How! caught of me!
Make me not sighted like the basilisk:
I have look'd on thousands, who have sped the better
By my regard, but kill'd none so. Camillo,—
As you are certainly a gentleman, thereto
Clerk-like experienced, which no less adorns
Our gentry than our parents' noble names,
In whose success we are gentle,—I beseech you,
If you know aught which does behove my knowledge
Thereof to be inform'd, imprison't not
In ignorant concealment.


20

I,2,519

Camillo. I may not answer.

Polixenes. A sickness caught of me, and yet I well!
I must be answer'd. Dost thou hear, Camillo,
I conjure thee, by all the parts of man
Which honour does acknowledge, whereof the least
Is not this suit of mine, that thou declare
What incidency thou dost guess of harm
Is creeping toward me; how far off, how near;
Which way to be prevented, if to be;
If not, how best to bear it.


21

I,2,534

Camillo. Sir, I will tell you;
Since I am charged in honour and by him
That I think honourable: therefore mark my counsel,
Which must be even as swiftly follow'd as
I mean to utter it, or both yourself and me
Cry lost, and so good night!

Polixenes. On, good Camillo.


22

I,2,536

Camillo. I am appointed him to murder you.

Polixenes. By whom, Camillo?


23

I,2,538

Camillo. By the king.

Polixenes. For what?


24

I,2,543

Camillo. He thinks, nay, with all confidence he swears,
As he had seen't or been an instrument
To vice you to't, that you have touch'd his queen
Forbiddenly.

Polixenes. O, then my best blood turn
To an infected jelly and my name
Be yoked with his that did betray the Best!
Turn then my freshest reputation to
A savour that may strike the dullest nostril
Where I arrive, and my approach be shunn'd,
Nay, hated too, worse than the great'st infection
That e'er was heard or read!


25

I,2,559

Camillo. Swear his thought over
By each particular star in heaven and
By all their influences, you may as well
Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath remove or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation
Is piled upon his faith and will continue
The standing of his body.

Polixenes. How should this grow?


26

I,2,575

Camillo. I know not: but I am sure 'tis safer to
Avoid what's grown than question how 'tis born.
If therefore you dare trust my honesty,
That lies enclosed in this trunk which you
Shall bear along impawn'd, away to-night!
Your followers I will whisper to the business,
And will by twos and threes at several posterns
Clear them o' the city. For myself, I'll put
My fortunes to your service, which are here
By this discovery lost. Be not uncertain;
For, by the honour of my parents, I
Have utter'd truth: which if you seek to prove,
I dare not stand by; nor shall you be safer
Than one condemn'd by the king's own mouth, thereon
His execution sworn.

Polixenes. I do believe thee:
I saw his heart in 's face. Give me thy hand:
Be pilot to me and thy places shall
Still neighbour mine. My ships are ready and
My people did expect my hence departure
Two days ago. This jealousy
Is for a precious creature: as she's rare,
Must it be great, and as his person's mighty,
Must it be violent, and as he does conceive
He is dishonour'd by a man which ever
Profess'd to him, why, his revenges must
In that be made more bitter. Fear o'ershades me:
Good expedition be my friend, and comfort
The gracious queen, part of his theme, but nothing
Of his ill-ta'en suspicion! Come, Camillo;
I will respect thee as a father if
Thou bear'st my life off hence: let us avoid.


27

IV,2,1668

(stage directions). [Enter POLIXENES and CAMILLO]

Polixenes. I pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate:
'tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to
grant this.


28

IV,2,1677

Camillo. It is fifteen years since I saw my country: though
I have for the most part been aired abroad, I
desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent
king, my master, hath sent for me; to whose feeling
sorrows I might be some allay, or I o'erween to
think so, which is another spur to my departure.

Polixenes. As thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of
thy services by leaving me now: the need I have of
thee thine own goodness hath made; better not to
have had thee than thus to want thee: thou, having
made me businesses which none without thee can
sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute
them thyself or take away with thee the very
services thou hast done; which if I have not enough
considered, as too much I cannot, to be more
thankful to thee shall be my study, and my profit
therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal
country, Sicilia, prithee speak no more; whose very
naming punishes me with the remembrance of that
penitent, as thou callest him, and reconciled king,
my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen
and children are even now to be afresh lamented.
Say to me, when sawest thou the Prince Florizel, my
son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not
being gracious, than they are in losing them when
they have approved their virtues.


29

IV,2,1702

Camillo. Sir, it is three days since I saw the prince. What
his happier affairs may be, are to me unknown: but I
have missingly noted, he is of late much retired
from court and is less frequent to his princely
exercises than formerly he hath appeared.

Polixenes. I have considered so much, Camillo, and with some
care; so far that I have eyes under my service which
look upon his removedness; from whom I have this
intelligence, that he is seldom from the house of a
most homely shepherd; a man, they say, that from
very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his
neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.


30

IV,2,1712

Camillo. I have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a
daughter of most rare note: the report of her is
extended more than can be thought to begin from such a cottage.

Polixenes. That's likewise part of my intelligence; but, I
fear, the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou
shalt accompany us to the place; where we will, not
appearing what we are, have some question with the
shepherd; from whose simplicity I think it not
uneasy to get the cause of my son's resort thither.
Prithee, be my present partner in this business, and
lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.


31

IV,2,1721

Camillo. I willingly obey your command.

Polixenes. My best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.


32

IV,4,1947

Perdita. [To POLIXENES] Sir, welcome:
It is my father's will I should take on me
The hostess-ship o' the day.
[To CAMILLO]
You're welcome, sir.
Give me those flowers there, Dorcas. Reverend sirs,
For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep
Seeming and savour all the winter long:
Grace and remembrance be to you both,
And welcome to our shearing!

Polixenes. Shepherdess,
A fair one are you—well you fit our ages
With flowers of winter.


33

IV,4,1958

Perdita. Sir, the year growing ancient,
Not yet on summer's death, nor on the birth
Of trembling winter, the fairest
flowers o' the season
Are our carnations and streak'd gillyvors,
Which some call nature's bastards: of that kind
Our rustic garden's barren; and I care not
To get slips of them.

Polixenes. Wherefore, gentle maiden,
Do you neglect them?


34

IV,4,1963

Perdita. For I have heard it said
There is an art which in their piedness shares
With great creating nature.

Polixenes. Say there be;
Yet nature is made better by no mean
But nature makes that mean: so, over that art
Which you say adds to nature, is an art
That nature makes. You see, sweet maid, we marry
A gentler scion to the wildest stock,
And make conceive a bark of baser kind
By bud of nobler race: this is an art
Which does mend nature, change it rather, but
The art itself is nature.


35

IV,4,1974

Perdita. So it is.

Polixenes. Then make your garden rich in gillyvors,
And do not call them bastards.


36

IV,4,2040

Perdita. I'll swear for 'em.

Polixenes. This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
Ran on the green-sward: nothing she does or seems
But smacks of something greater than herself,
Too noble for this place.


37

IV,4,2055

Clown. Not a word, a word; we stand upon our manners.
Come, strike up!
[Music. Here a dance of Shepherds and]
Shepherdesses]

Polixenes. Pray, good shepherd, what fair swain is this
Which dances with your daughter?


38

IV,4,2066

Old Shepherd. They call him Doricles; and boasts himself
To have a worthy feeding: but I have it
Upon his own report and I believe it;
He looks like sooth. He says he loves my daughter:
I think so too; for never gazed the moon
Upon the water as he'll stand and read
As 'twere my daughter's eyes: and, to be plain.
I think there is not half a kiss to choose
Who loves another best.

Polixenes. She dances featly.


39

IV,4,2092

Servant. He hath songs for man or woman, of all sizes; no
milliner can so fit his customers with gloves: he
has the prettiest love-songs for maids; so without
bawdry, which is strange; with such delicate
burthens of dildos and fadings, 'jump her and thump
her;' and where some stretch-mouthed rascal would,
as it were, mean mischief and break a foul gap into
the matter, he makes the maid to answer 'Whoop, do me
no harm, good man;' puts him off, slights him, with
'Whoop, do me no harm, good man.'

Polixenes. This is a brave fellow.


40

IV,4,2228

Old Shepherd. Away! we'll none on 't: here has been too much
homely foolery already. I know, sir, we weary you.

Polixenes. You weary those that refresh us: pray, let's see
these four threes of herdsmen.


41

IV,4,2238

(stage directions). [Here a dance of twelve Satyrs]

Polixenes. O, father, you'll know more of that hereafter.
[To CAMILLO]
Is it not too far gone? 'Tis time to part them.
He's simple and tells much.
[To FLORIZEL]
How now, fair shepherd!
Your heart is full of something that does take
Your mind from feasting. Sooth, when I was young
And handed love as you do, I was wont
To load my she with knacks: I would have ransack'd
The pedlar's silken treasury and have pour'd it
To her acceptance; you have let him go
And nothing marted with him. If your lass
Interpretation should abuse and call this
Your lack of love or bounty, you were straited
For a reply, at least if you make a care
Of happy holding her.


42

IV,4,2266

Florizel. Old sir, I know
She prizes not such trifles as these are:
The gifts she looks from me are pack'd and lock'd
Up in my heart; which I have given already,
But not deliver'd. O, hear me breathe my life
Before this ancient sir, who, it should seem,
Hath sometime loved! I take thy hand, this hand,
As soft as dove's down and as white as it,
Or Ethiopian's tooth, or the fann'd
snow that's bolted
By the northern blasts twice o'er.

Polixenes. What follows this?
How prettily the young swain seems to wash
The hand was fair before! I have put you out:
But to your protestation; let me hear
What you profess.


43

IV,4,2272

Florizel. Do, and be witness to 't.

Polixenes. And this my neighbour too?


44

IV,4,2282

Florizel. And he, and more
Than he, and men, the earth, the heavens, and all:
That, were I crown'd the most imperial monarch,
Thereof most worthy, were I the fairest youth
That ever made eye swerve, had force and knowledge
More than was ever man's, I would not prize them
Without her love; for her employ them all;
Commend them and condemn them to her service
Or to their own perdition.

Polixenes. Fairly offer'd.


45

IV,4,2301

Old Shepherd. Come, your hand;
And, daughter, yours.

Polixenes. Soft, swain, awhile, beseech you;
Have you a father?


46

IV,4,2304

Florizel. I have: but what of him?

Polixenes. Knows he of this?


47

IV,4,2306

Florizel. He neither does nor shall.

Polixenes. Methinks a father
Is at the nuptial of his son a guest
That best becomes the table. Pray you once more,
Is not your father grown incapable
Of reasonable affairs? is he not stupid
With age and altering rheums? can he speak? hear?
Know man from man? dispute his own estate?
Lies he not bed-rid? and again does nothing
But what he did being childish?


48

IV,4,2318

Florizel. No, good sir;
He has his health and ampler strength indeed
Than most have of his age.

Polixenes. By my white beard,
You offer him, if this be so, a wrong
Something unfilial: reason my son
Should choose himself a wife, but as good reason
The father, all whose joy is nothing else
But fair posterity, should hold some counsel
In such a business.


49

IV,4,2329

Florizel. I yield all this;
But for some other reasons, my grave sir,
Which 'tis not fit you know, I not acquaint
My father of this business.

Polixenes. Let him know't.


50

IV,4,2331

Florizel. He shall not.

Polixenes. Prithee, let him.


51

IV,4,2337

Florizel. Come, come, he must not.
Mark our contract.

Polixenes. Mark your divorce, young sir,
[Discovering himself]
Whom son I dare not call; thou art too base
To be acknowledged: thou a sceptre's heir,
That thus affect'st a sheep-hook! Thou old traitor,
I am sorry that by hanging thee I can
But shorten thy life one week. And thou, fresh piece
Of excellent witchcraft, who of force must know
The royal fool thou copest with,—


52

IV,4,2347

Old Shepherd. O, my heart!

Polixenes. I'll have thy beauty scratch'd with briers, and made
More homely than thy state. For thee, fond boy,
If I may ever know thou dost but sigh
That thou no more shalt see this knack, as never
I mean thou shalt, we'll bar thee from succession;
Not hold thee of our blood, no, not our kin,
Far than Deucalion off: mark thou my words:
Follow us to the court. Thou churl, for this time,
Though full of our displeasure, yet we free thee
From the dead blow of it. And you, enchantment.—
Worthy enough a herdsman: yea, him too,
That makes himself, but for our honour therein,
Unworthy thee,—if ever henceforth thou
These rural latches to his entrance open,
Or hoop his body more with thy embraces,
I will devise a death as cruel for thee
As thou art tender to't.


53

V,3,3322

Leontes. Her natural posture!
Chide me, dear stone, that I may say indeed
Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she
In thy not chiding, for she was as tender
As infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina,
Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing
So aged as this seems.

Polixenes. O, not by much.


54

V,3,3349

Camillo. My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on,
Which sixteen winters cannot blow away,
So many summers dry; scarce any joy
Did ever so long live; no sorrow
But kill'd itself much sooner.

Polixenes. Dear my brother,
Let him that was the cause of this have power
To take off so much grief from you as he
Will piece up in himself.


55

V,3,3365

Leontes. Let be, let be.
Would I were dead, but that, methinks, already—
What was he that did make it? See, my lord,
Would you not deem it breathed? and that those veins
Did verily bear blood?

Polixenes. Masterly done:
The very life seems warm upon her lip.


56

V,3,3425

Leontes. O, she's warm!
If this be magic, let it be an art
Lawful as eating.

Polixenes. She embraces him.


57

V,3,3428

Camillo. She hangs about his neck:
If she pertain to life let her speak too.

Polixenes. Ay, and make't manifest where she has lived,
Or how stolen from the dead.


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