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Twelfth Night, Or What You Will

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Act II, Scene 4

DUKE ORSINO’s palace.


[Enter DUKE ORSINO, VIOLA, CURIO, and others]

  • Orsino. 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 895
    Of these most brisk and giddy-paced times:
    Come, but one verse.
  • Curio. He is not here, so please your lordship that should sing it.
  • Curio. Feste, the jester, my lord; a fool that the lady 900
    Olivia's father took much delight in. He is about the house.
  • Orsino. Seek him out, and play the tune the while.
    [Exit CURIO. Music plays]
    Come hither, boy: if ever thou shalt love,
    In the sweet pangs of it remember me; 905
    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 beloved. How dost thou like this tune?
  • Viola. It gives a very echo to the seat 910
    Where Love is throned.
  • Orsino. 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? 915
  • Viola. A little, by your favour.
  • Orsino. What kind of woman is't?
  • Viola. Of your complexion.
  • Orsino. She is not worth thee, then. What years, i' faith?
  • Viola. About your years, my lord. 920
  • Orsino. 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, 925
    More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn,
    Than women's are.
  • Viola. I think it well, my lord.
  • Orsino. Then let thy love be younger than thyself,
    Or thy affection cannot hold the bent; 930
    For women are as roses, whose fair flower
    Being once display'd, doth fall that very hour.
  • Viola. And so they are: alas, that they are so;
    To die, even when they to perfection grow!

[Re-enter CURIO and Clown]

  • Orsino. 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, 940
    And dallies with the innocence of love,
    Like the old age.
  • Feste. Are you ready, sir?
  • Orsino. Ay; prithee, sing.
    [Music] 945
  • Feste. 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. 950
    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 955
    On my black coffin let there be strown;
    Not a friend, not a friend greet
    My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown:
    A thousand thousand sighs to save,
    Lay me, O, where 960
    Sad true lover never find my grave,
    To weep there!
  • Orsino. There's for thy pains.
  • Feste. No pains, sir: I take pleasure in singing, sir.
  • Orsino. I'll pay thy pleasure then. 965
  • Feste. Truly, sir, and pleasure will be paid, one time or another.
  • Orsino. Give me now leave to leave thee.
  • Feste. 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 970
    constancy put to sea, that their business might be
    every thing and their intent every where; for that's
    it that always makes a good voyage of nothing. Farewell.


  • Orsino. Let all the rest give place. 975
    [CURIO and Attendants retire]
    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; 980
    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.
  • Viola. But if she cannot love you, sir? 985
  • Orsino. I cannot be so answer'd.
  • Viola. Sooth, but you must.
    Say that some lady, as perhaps there is,
    Hath for your love a great a pang of heart
    As you have for Olivia: you cannot love her; 990
    You tell her so; must she not then be answer'd?
  • Orsino. 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 995
    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 1000
    Between that love a woman can bear me
    And that I owe Olivia.
  • Viola. Ay, but I know—
  • Viola. Too well what love women to men may owe: 1005
    In faith, they are as true of heart as we.
    My father had a daughter loved a man,
    As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
    I should your lordship.
  • Orsino. And what's her history? 1010
  • Viola. A blank, my lord. She never told her love,
    But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
    Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
    And with a green and yellow melancholy
    She sat like patience on a monument, 1015
    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.
  • Orsino. But died thy sister of her love, my boy? 1020
  • Viola. 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?
  • Orsino. Ay, that's the theme.
    To her in haste; give her this jewel; say, 1025
    My love can give no place, bide no denay.