This page contains the original text of Act 2, Scene 4 of Twelfth Night. All Acts and Scenes are listed on the Twelfth Night text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.
ACT 2. SCENE 4. DUKE ORSINO’s palace.
Enter DUKE ORSINO, VIOLA, CURIO, and others
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
Of these most brisk and giddy-paced times:
Come, but one verse.
He is not here, so please your lordship that should sing it.
Who was it?
Feste, the jester, my lord; a fool that the lady
Olivia’s father took much delight in. He is about the house.
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;
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?
It gives a very echo to the seat
Where Love is throned.
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?
A little, by your favour.
What kind of woman is’t?
Of your complexion.
She is not worth thee, then. What years, i’ faith?
About your years, my lord.
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,
More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn,
Than women’s are.
I think it well, my lord.
Then let thy love be younger than thyself,
Or thy affection cannot hold the bent;
For women are as roses, whose fair flower
Being once display’d, doth fall that very hour.
And so they are: alas, that they are so;
To die, even when they to perfection grow!
Re-enter CURIO and Clown
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,
And dallies with the innocence of love,
Like the old age.
Are you ready, sir?
Ay; prithee, sing.
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.
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
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
Sad true lover never find my grave,
To weep there!
There’s for thy pains.
No pains, sir: I take pleasure in singing, sir.
I’ll pay thy pleasure then.
Truly, sir, and pleasure will be paid, one time or another.
Give me now leave to leave thee.
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
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.
Let all the rest give place.
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;
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.
But if she cannot love you, sir?
I cannot be so answer’d.
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;
You tell her so; must she not then be answer’d?
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
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
Between that love a woman can bear me
And that I owe Olivia.
Ay, but I know–
What dost thou know?
Too well what love women to men may owe:
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.
And what’s her history?
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,
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.
But died thy sister of her love, my boy?
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?
Ay, that’s the theme.
To her in haste; give her this jewel; say,
My love can give no place, bide no denay.
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