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The Winter's Tale

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Act IV, Scene 1

Chorus as Time speaks.


[Enter Time, the Chorus]

  • Time. I, that please some, try all, both joy and terror
    Of good and bad, that makes and unfolds error,
    Now take upon me, in the name of Time, 1635
    To use my wings. Impute it not a crime
    To me or my swift passage, that I slide
    O'er sixteen years and leave the growth untried
    Of that wide gap, since it is in my power
    To o'erthrow law and in one self-born hour 1640
    To plant and o'erwhelm custom. Let me pass
    The same I am, ere ancient'st order was
    Or what is now received: I witness to
    The times that brought them in; so shall I do
    To the freshest things now reigning and make stale 1645
    The glistering of this present, as my tale
    Now seems to it. Your patience this allowing,
    I turn my glass and give my scene such growing
    As you had slept between: Leontes leaving,
    The effects of his fond jealousies so grieving 1650
    That he shuts up himself, imagine me,
    Gentle spectators, that I now may be
    In fair Bohemia, and remember well,
    I mentioned a son o' the king's, which Florizel
    I now name to you; and with speed so pace 1655
    To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace
    Equal with wondering: what of her ensues
    I list not prophecy; but let Time's news
    Be known when 'tis brought forth.
    A shepherd's daughter, 1660
    And what to her adheres, which follows after,
    Is the argument of Time. Of this allow,
    If ever you have spent time worse ere now;
    If never, yet that Time himself doth say
    He wishes earnestly you never may. 1665