Plays  +  Sonnets  +  Poems  +  Concordance  +  Advanced Search  +  About OSS

Love's Labour's Lost

print/save print/save view


Act IV, Scene 3

The same.


[Enter BIRON, with a paper]

  • Biron. The king he is hunting the deer; I am coursing
    myself: they have pitched a toil; I am toiling in 1320
    a pitch,—pitch that defiles: defile! a foul
    word. Well, set thee down, sorrow! for so they say
    the fool said, and so say I, and I the fool: well
    proved, wit! By the Lord, this love is as mad as
    Ajax: it kills sheep; it kills me, I a sheep: 1325
    well proved again o' my side! I will not love: if
    I do, hang me; i' faith, I will not. O, but her
    eye,—by this light, but for her eye, I would not
    love her; yes, for her two eyes. Well, I do nothing
    in the world but lie, and lie in my throat. By 1330
    heaven, I do love: and it hath taught me to rhyme
    and to be melancholy; and here is part of my rhyme,
    and here my melancholy. Well, she hath one o' my
    sonnets already: the clown bore it, the fool sent
    it, and the lady hath it: sweet clown, sweeter 1335
    fool, sweetest lady! By the world, I would not care
    a pin, if the other three were in. Here comes one
    with a paper: God give him grace to groan!

[Stands aside]

[Enter FERDINAND, with a paper]

  • Biron. [Aside] Shot, by heaven! Proceed, sweet Cupid:
    thou hast thumped him with thy bird-bolt under the
    left pap. In faith, secrets!
  • Ferdinand. [Reads] 1345
    So sweet a kiss the golden sun gives not
    To those fresh morning drops upon the rose,
    As thy eye-beams, when their fresh rays have smote
    The night of dew that on my cheeks down flows:
    Nor shines the silver moon one half so bright 1350
    Through the transparent bosom of the deep,
    As doth thy face through tears of mine give light;
    Thou shinest in every tear that I do weep:
    No drop but as a coach doth carry thee;
    So ridest thou triumphing in my woe. 1355
    Do but behold the tears that swell in me,
    And they thy glory through my grief will show:
    But do not love thyself; then thou wilt keep
    My tears for glasses, and still make me weep.
    O queen of queens! how far dost thou excel, 1360
    No thought can think, nor tongue of mortal tell.
    How shall she know my griefs? I'll drop the paper:
    Sweet leaves, shade folly. Who is he comes here?
    [Steps aside]
    What, Longaville! and reading! listen, ear. 1365
  • Biron. Now, in thy likeness, one more fool appear!

[Enter LONGAVILLE, with a paper]

  • Biron. Why, he comes in like a perjure, wearing papers.
  • Ferdinand. In love, I hope: sweet fellowship in shame! 1370
  • Biron. One drunkard loves another of the name.
  • Longaville. Am I the first that have been perjured so?
  • Biron. I could put thee in comfort. Not by two that I know:
    Thou makest the triumviry, the corner-cap of society,
    The shape of Love's Tyburn that hangs up simplicity. 1375
  • Longaville. I fear these stubborn lines lack power to move:
    O sweet Maria, empress of my love!
    These numbers will I tear, and write in prose.
  • Biron. O, rhymes are guards on wanton Cupid's hose:
    Disfigure not his slop. 1380
  • Longaville. This same shall go.
    Did not the heavenly rhetoric of thine eye,
    'Gainst whom the world cannot hold argument,
    Persuade my heart to this false perjury? 1385
    Vows for thee broke deserve not punishment.
    A woman I forswore; but I will prove,
    Thou being a goddess, I forswore not thee:
    My vow was earthly, thou a heavenly love;
    Thy grace being gain'd cures all disgrace in me. 1390
    Vows are but breath, and breath a vapour is:
    Then thou, fair sun, which on my earth dost shine,
    Exhalest this vapour-vow; in thee it is:
    If broken then, it is no fault of mine:
    If by me broke, what fool is not so wise 1395
    To lose an oath to win a paradise?
  • Biron. This is the liver-vein, which makes flesh a deity,
    A green goose a goddess: pure, pure idolatry.
    God amend us, God amend! we are much out o' the way.
  • Longaville. By whom shall I send this?—Company! stay. 1400

[Steps aside]

  • Biron. All hid, all hid; an old infant play.
    Like a demigod here sit I in the sky.
    And wretched fools' secrets heedfully o'ereye.
    More sacks to the mill! O heavens, I have my wish! 1405
    [Enter DUMAIN, with a paper]
    Dumain transform'd! four woodcocks in a dish!
  • Biron. O most profane coxcomb!
  • Dumain. By heaven, the wonder in a mortal eye! 1410
  • Biron. By earth, she is not, corporal, there you lie.
  • Dumain. Her amber hair for foul hath amber quoted.
  • Biron. An amber-colour'd raven was well noted.
  • Dumain. As upright as the cedar.
  • Biron. Stoop, I say; 1415
    Her shoulder is with child.
  • Biron. Ay, as some days; but then no sun must shine.
  • Dumain. O that I had my wish!
  • Biron. Amen, so I had mine: is not that a good word?
  • Dumain. I would forget her; but a fever she
    Reigns in my blood and will remember'd be.
  • Biron. A fever in your blood! why, then incision 1425
    Would let her out in saucers: sweet misprision!
  • Dumain. Once more I'll read the ode that I have writ.
  • Biron. Once more I'll mark how love can vary wit.
  • Dumain. [Reads]
    On a day—alack the day!— 1430
    Love, whose month is ever May,
    Spied a blossom passing fair
    Playing in the wanton air:
    Through the velvet leaves the wind,
    All unseen, can passage find; 1435
    That the lover, sick to death,
    Wish himself the heaven's breath.
    Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;
    Air, would I might triumph so!
    But, alack, my hand is sworn 1440
    Ne'er to pluck thee from thy thorn;
    Vow, alack, for youth unmeet,
    Youth so apt to pluck a sweet!
    Do not call it sin in me,
    That I am forsworn for thee; 1445
    Thou for whom Jove would swear
    Juno but an Ethiope were;
    And deny himself for Jove,
    Turning mortal for thy love.
    This will I send, and something else more plain, 1450
    That shall express my true love's fasting pain.
    O, would the king, Biron, and Longaville,
    Were lovers too! Ill, to example ill,
    Would from my forehead wipe a perjured note;
    For none offend where all alike do dote. 1455
  • Longaville. [Advancing] Dumain, thy love is far from charity.
    You may look pale, but I should blush, I know,
    To be o'erheard and taken napping so.
  • Ferdinand. [Advancing] Come, sir, you blush; as his your case is such;
    You chide at him, offending twice as much; 1460
    You do not love Maria; Longaville
    Did never sonnet for her sake compile,
    Nor never lay his wreathed arms athwart
    His loving bosom to keep down his heart.
    I have been closely shrouded in this bush 1465
    And mark'd you both and for you both did blush:
    I heard your guilty rhymes, observed your fashion,
    Saw sighs reek from you, noted well your passion:
    Ay me! says one; O Jove! the other cries;
    One, her hairs were gold, crystal the other's eyes: 1470
    You would for paradise break faith, and troth;
    [To DUMAIN]
    And Jove, for your love, would infringe an oath.
    What will Biron say when that he shall hear 1475
    Faith so infringed, which such zeal did swear?
    How will he scorn! how will he spend his wit!
    How will he triumph, leap and laugh at it!
    For all the wealth that ever I did see,
    I would not have him know so much by me. 1480
  • Biron. Now step I forth to whip hypocrisy.
    Ah, good my liege, I pray thee, pardon me!
    Good heart, what grace hast thou, thus to reprove
    These worms for loving, that art most in love? 1485
    Your eyes do make no coaches; in your tears
    There is no certain princess that appears;
    You'll not be perjured, 'tis a hateful thing;
    Tush, none but minstrels like of sonneting!
    But are you not ashamed? nay, are you not, 1490
    All three of you, to be thus much o'ershot?
    You found his mote; the king your mote did see;
    But I a beam do find in each of three.
    O, what a scene of foolery have I seen,
    Of sighs, of groans, of sorrow and of teen! 1495
    O me, with what strict patience have I sat,
    To see a king transformed to a gnat!
    To see great Hercules whipping a gig,
    And profound Solomon to tune a jig,
    And Nestor play at push-pin with the boys, 1500
    And critic Timon laugh at idle toys!
    Where lies thy grief, O, tell me, good Dumain?
    And gentle Longaville, where lies thy pain?
    And where my liege's? all about the breast:
    A caudle, ho! 1505
  • Ferdinand. Too bitter is thy jest.
    Are we betray'd thus to thy over-view?
  • Biron. Not you to me, but I betray'd by you:
    I, that am honest; I, that hold it sin
    To break the vow I am engaged in; 1510
    I am betray'd, by keeping company
    With men like men of inconstancy.
    When shall you see me write a thing in rhyme?
    Or groan for love? or spend a minute's time
    In pruning me? When shall you hear that I 1515
    Will praise a hand, a foot, a face, an eye,
    A gait, a state, a brow, a breast, a waist,
    A leg, a limb?
  • Ferdinand. Soft! whither away so fast?
    A true man or a thief that gallops so? 1520
  • Biron. I post from love: good lover, let me go.


  • Costard. Some certain treason. 1525
  • Costard. Nay, it makes nothing, sir.
  • Ferdinand. If it mar nothing neither,
    The treason and you go in peace away together.
  • Jaquenetta. I beseech your grace, let this letter be read: 1530
    Our parson misdoubts it; 'twas treason, he said.
  • Ferdinand. Biron, read it over.
    [Giving him the paper]
    Where hadst thou it?
  • Costard. Of Dun Adramadio, Dun Adramadio.

[BIRON tears the letter]

  • Ferdinand. How now! what is in you? why dost thou tear it?
  • Biron. A toy, my liege, a toy: your grace needs not fear it. 1540
  • Longaville. It did move him to passion, and therefore let's hear it.
  • Dumain. It is Biron's writing, and here is his name.

[Gathering up the pieces]

  • Biron. [To COSTARD] Ah, you whoreson loggerhead! you were
    born to do me shame. 1545
    Guilty, my lord, guilty! I confess, I confess.
  • Biron. That you three fools lack'd me fool to make up the mess:
    He, he, and you, and you, my liege, and I,
    Are pick-purses in love, and we deserve to die. 1550
    O, dismiss this audience, and I shall tell you more.
  • Dumain. Now the number is even.
  • Biron. True, true; we are four.
    Will these turtles be gone?
  • Costard. Walk aside the true folk, and let the traitors stay.


  • Biron. Sweet lords, sweet lovers, O, let us embrace!
    As true we are as flesh and blood can be:
    The sea will ebb and flow, heaven show his face; 1560
    Young blood doth not obey an old decree:
    We cannot cross the cause why we were born;
    Therefore of all hands must we be forsworn.
  • Ferdinand. What, did these rent lines show some love of thine?
  • Biron. Did they, quoth you? Who sees the heavenly Rosaline, 1565
    That, like a rude and savage man of Inde,
    At the first opening of the gorgeous east,
    Bows not his vassal head and strucken blind
    Kisses the base ground with obedient breast?
    What peremptory eagle-sighted eye 1570
    Dares look upon the heaven of her brow,
    That is not blinded by her majesty?
  • Ferdinand. What zeal, what fury hath inspired thee now?
    My love, her mistress, is a gracious moon;
    She an attending star, scarce seen a light. 1575
  • Biron. My eyes are then no eyes, nor I Biron:
    O, but for my love, day would turn to night!
    Of all complexions the cull'd sovereignty
    Do meet, as at a fair, in her fair cheek,
    Where several worthies make one dignity, 1580
    Where nothing wants that want itself doth seek.
    Lend me the flourish of all gentle tongues,—
    Fie, painted rhetoric! O, she needs it not:
    To things of sale a seller's praise belongs,
    She passes praise; then praise too short doth blot. 1585
    A wither'd hermit, five-score winters worn,
    Might shake off fifty, looking in her eye:
    Beauty doth varnish age, as if new-born,
    And gives the crutch the cradle's infancy:
    O, 'tis the sun that maketh all things shine. 1590
  • Ferdinand. By heaven, thy love is black as ebony.
  • Biron. Is ebony like her? O wood divine!
    A wife of such wood were felicity.
    O, who can give an oath? where is a book?
    That I may swear beauty doth beauty lack, 1595
    If that she learn not of her eye to look:
    No face is fair that is not full so black.
  • Ferdinand. O paradox! Black is the badge of hell,
    The hue of dungeons and the suit of night;
    And beauty's crest becomes the heavens well. 1600
  • Biron. Devils soonest tempt, resembling spirits of light.
    O, if in black my lady's brows be deck'd,
    It mourns that painting and usurping hair
    Should ravish doters with a false aspect;
    And therefore is she born to make black fair. 1605
    Her favour turns the fashion of the days,
    For native blood is counted painting now;
    And therefore red, that would avoid dispraise,
    Paints itself black, to imitate her brow.
  • Dumain. To look like her are chimney-sweepers black. 1610
  • Longaville. And since her time are colliers counted bright.
  • Ferdinand. And Ethiopes of their sweet complexion crack.
  • Dumain. Dark needs no candles now, for dark is light.
  • Biron. Your mistresses dare never come in rain,
    For fear their colours should be wash'd away. 1615
  • Ferdinand. 'Twere good, yours did; for, sir, to tell you plain,
    I'll find a fairer face not wash'd to-day.
  • Biron. I'll prove her fair, or talk till doomsday here.
  • Ferdinand. No devil will fright thee then so much as she.
  • Dumain. I never knew man hold vile stuff so dear. 1620
  • Longaville. Look, here's thy love: my foot and her face see.
  • Biron. O, if the streets were paved with thine eyes,
    Her feet were much too dainty for such tread!
  • Dumain. O, vile! then, as she goes, what upward lies
    The street should see as she walk'd overhead. 1625
  • Ferdinand. But what of this? are we not all in love?
  • Biron. Nothing so sure; and thereby all forsworn.
  • Ferdinand. Then leave this chat; and, good Biron, now prove
    Our loving lawful, and our faith not torn.
  • Dumain. Ay, marry, there; some flattery for this evil. 1630
  • Longaville. O, some authority how to proceed;
    Some tricks, some quillets, how to cheat the devil.
  • Dumain. Some salve for perjury.
  • Biron. 'Tis more than need.
    Have at you, then, affection's men at arms. 1635
    Consider what you first did swear unto,
    To fast, to study, and to see no woman;
    Flat treason 'gainst the kingly state of youth.
    Say, can you fast? your stomachs are too young;
    And abstinence engenders maladies. 1640
    And where that you have vow'd to study, lords,
    In that each of you have forsworn his book,
    Can you still dream and pore and thereon look?
    For when would you, my lord, or you, or you,
    Have found the ground of study's excellence 1645
    Without the beauty of a woman's face?
    [From women's eyes this doctrine I derive;]
    They are the ground, the books, the academes
    From whence doth spring the true Promethean fire]
    Why, universal plodding poisons up 1650
    The nimble spirits in the arteries,
    As motion and long-during action tires
    The sinewy vigour of the traveller.
    Now, for not looking on a woman's face,
    You have in that forsworn the use of eyes 1655
    And study too, the causer of your vow;
    For where is any author in the world
    Teaches such beauty as a woman's eye?
    Learning is but an adjunct to ourself
    And where we are our learning likewise is: 1660
    Then when ourselves we see in ladies' eyes,
    Do we not likewise see our learning there?
    O, we have made a vow to study, lords,
    And in that vow we have forsworn our books.
    For when would you, my liege, or you, or you, 1665
    In leaden contemplation have found out
    Such fiery numbers as the prompting eyes
    Of beauty's tutors have enrich'd you with?
    Other slow arts entirely keep the brain;
    And therefore, finding barren practisers, 1670
    Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil:
    But love, first learned in a lady's eyes,
    Lives not alone immured in the brain;
    But, with the motion of all elements,
    Courses as swift as thought in every power, 1675
    And gives to every power a double power,
    Above their functions and their offices.
    It adds a precious seeing to the eye;
    A lover's eyes will gaze an eagle blind;
    A lover's ear will hear the lowest sound, 1680
    When the suspicious head of theft is stopp'd:
    Love's feeling is more soft and sensible
    Than are the tender horns of cockl'd snails;
    Love's tongue proves dainty Bacchus gross in taste:
    For valour, is not Love a Hercules, 1685
    Still climbing trees in the Hesperides?
    Subtle as Sphinx; as sweet and musical
    As bright Apollo's lute, strung with his hair:
    And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
    Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony. 1690
    Never durst poet touch a pen to write
    Until his ink were temper'd with Love's sighs;
    O, then his lines would ravish savage ears
    And plant in tyrants mild humility.
    From women's eyes this doctrine I derive: 1695
    They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
    They are the books, the arts, the academes,
    That show, contain and nourish all the world:
    Else none at all in ought proves excellent.
    Then fools you were these women to forswear, 1700
    Or keeping what is sworn, you will prove fools.
    For wisdom's sake, a word that all men love,
    Or for love's sake, a word that loves all men,
    Or for men's sake, the authors of these women,
    Or women's sake, by whom we men are men, 1705
    Let us once lose our oaths to find ourselves,
    Or else we lose ourselves to keep our oaths.
    It is religion to be thus forsworn,
    For charity itself fulfills the law,
    And who can sever love from charity? 1710
  • Ferdinand. Saint Cupid, then! and, soldiers, to the field!
  • Biron. Advance your standards, and upon them, lords;
    Pell-mell, down with them! but be first advised,
    In conflict that you get the sun of them.
  • Longaville. Now to plain-dealing; lay these glozes by: 1715
    Shall we resolve to woo these girls of France?
  • Ferdinand. And win them too: therefore let us devise
    Some entertainment for them in their tents.
  • Biron. First, from the park let us conduct them thither;
    Then homeward every man attach the hand 1720
    Of his fair mistress: in the afternoon
    We will with some strange pastime solace them,
    Such as the shortness of the time can shape;
    For revels, dances, masks and merry hours
    Forerun fair Love, strewing her way with flowers. 1725
  • Ferdinand. Away, away! no time shall be omitted
    That will betime, and may by us be fitted.
  • Biron. Allons! allons! Sow'd cockle reap'd no corn;
    And justice always whirls in equal measure:
    Light wenches may prove plagues to men forsworn; 1730
    If so, our copper buys no better treasure.