The Winter's Tale By William Shakespeare Act V: Scene 1

ACT V. SCENE 1. Sicilia. A Room in the palace of LEONTES.


Sir, you have done enough, and have perform'd
A saint-like sorrow: no fault could you make
Which you have not redeem'd; indeed, paid down
More penitence than done trespass: at the last,
Do as the heavens have done, forget your evil;
With them, forgive yourself.

Whilst I remember
Her and her virtues, I cannot forget
My blemishes in them; and so still think of
The wrong I did myself: which was so much
That heirless it hath made my kingdom, and
Destroy'd the sweet'st companion that e'er man
Bred his hopes out of.

True, too true, my lord;
If, one by one, you wedded all the world,
Or from the all that are took something good,
To make a perfect woman, she you kill'd
Would be unparallel'd.

I think so. — Kill'd!
She I kill'd! I did so: but thou strik'st me
Sorely, to say I did: it is as bitter
Upon thy tongue as in my thought: now, good now,
Say so but seldom.

Not at all, good lady;
You might have spoken a thousand things that would
Have done the time more benefit, and grac'd
Your kindness better.

You are one of those
Would have him wed again.

If you would not so,
You pity not the state, nor the remembrance
Of his most sovereign name; consider little
What dangers, by his highness' fail of issue,
May drop upon his kingdom, and devour
Incertain lookers-on. What were more holy
Than to rejoice the former queen is well?
What holier than, — for royalty's repair,
For present comfort, and for future good, —
To bless the bed of majesty again
With a sweet fellow to't?

There is none worthy,
Respecting her that's gone. Besides, the gods
Will have fulfill'd their secret purposes;
For has not the divine Apollo said,
Is't not the tenour of his oracle,
That king Leontes shall not have an heir
Till his lost child be found? which that it shall,
Is all as monstrous to our human reason
As my Antigonus to break his grave
And come again to me; who, on my life,
Did perish with the infant. 'Tis your counsel
My lord should to the heavens be contrary,
Oppose against their wills. — [To LEONTES.] Care not for issue;
The crown will find an heir: great Alexander
Left his to the worthiest; so his successor
Was like to be the best.

Good Paulina, —
Who hast the memory of Hermione,
I know, in honour, — O that ever I
Had squar'd me to thy counsel! — then, even now,
I might have look'd upon my queen's full eyes,
Have taken treasure from her lips, —

And left them
More rich for what they yielded.

Thou speak'st truth.
No more such wives; therefore, no wife: one worse,
And better us'd, would make her sainted spirit
Again possess her corpse; and on this stage, —
Where we offend her now, — appear soul-vexed,
And begin 'Why to me?'

Had she such power,
She had just cause.

She had; and would incense me
To murder her I married.

I should so.
Were I the ghost that walk'd, I'd bid you mark
Her eye, and tell me for what dull part in't
You chose her: then I'd shriek, that even your ears
Should rift to hear me; and the words that follow'd
Should be 'Remember mine!'

Stars, stars,
And all eyes else dead coals! — fear thou no wife;
I'll have no wife, Paulina.

Will you swear
Never to marry but by my free leave?

Never, Paulina; so be bless'd my spirit!

Then, good my lords, bear witness to his oath.

You tempt him over-much.

Unless another,
As like Hermione as is her picture,
Affront his eye.

Good madam, —

I have done.
Yet, if my lord will marry, — if you will, sir,
No remedy but you will, — give me the office
To choose you a queen: she shall not be so young
As was your former; but she shall be such
As, walk'd your first queen's ghost, it should take joy
To see her in your arms.

My true Paulina,
We shall not marry till thou bidd'st us.

Shall be when your first queen's again in breath;
Never till then.

[Enter a GENTLEMAN.]

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

After Camillo reveals Leontes' plan to kill Polixenes, Camillo is sentenced to die for treason.