William Shakespeare: Winter's Tale, Act V, Scene III

Scene III

A chapel in Paulina's house

Enter Leontes, Polixenes, Florizel, Perdita, Camillo, Paulina, Lords, and Attendants

Leontes

O grave and good Paulina, the great comfort That I have had of thee!

Paulina

What, sovereign sir, I did not well I meant well. All my services You have paid home: but that you have vouchsafed, With your crown'd brother and these your contracted Heirs of your kingdoms, my poor house to visit, It is a surplus of your grace, which never My life may last to answer.

Leontes

O Paulina, We honour you with trouble: but we came To see the statue of our queen: your gallery Have we pass'd through, not without much content In many singularities; but we saw not That which my daughter came to look upon, The statue of her mother.

Paulina

As she lived peerless, So her dead likeness, I do well believe, Excels whatever yet you look'd upon Or hand of man hath done; therefore I keep it Lonely, apart. But here it is: prepare To see the life as lively mock'd as ever Still sleep mock'd death: behold, and say 'tis well.

Paulina draws a curtain, and discovers Hermione standing like a statue

I like your silence, it the more shows off Your wonder: but yet speak; first, you, my liege, Comes it not something near?

Leontes

Her natural posture! Chide me, dear stone, that I may say indeed Thou art Hermione; or rather, thou art she In thy not chiding, for she was as tender As infancy and grace. But yet, Paulina, Hermione was not so much wrinkled, nothing So aged as this seems.

Polixenes

O, not by much.

Paulina

So much the more our carver's excellence; Which lets go by some sixteen years and makes her As she lived now.

Leontes

As now she might have done, So much to my good comfort, as it is Now piercing to my soul. O, thus she stood, Even with such life of majesty, warm life, As now it coldly stands, when first I woo'd her! I am ashamed: does not the stone rebuke me For being more stone than it? O royal piece, There's magic in thy majesty, which has My evils conjured to remembrance and From thy admiring daughter took the spirits, Standing like stone with thee.

Perdita

And give me leave, And do not say 'tis superstition, that I kneel and then implore her blessing. Lady, Dear queen, that ended when I but began, Give me that hand of yours to kiss.

Paulina

O, patience! The statue is but newly fix'd, the colour's Not dry.

Camillo

My lord, your sorrow was too sore laid on, Which sixteen winters cannot blow away, So many summers dry; scarce any joy Did ever so long live; no sorrow But kill'd itself much sooner.

Polixenes

Dear my brother, Let him that was the cause of this have power To take off so much grief from you as he Will piece up in himself.

Paulina

Indeed, my lord, If I had thought the sight of my poor image Would thus have wrought you,—for the stone is mine— I'ld not have show'd it.

Leontes

Do not draw the curtain.

Paulina

No longer shall you gaze on't, lest your fancy May think anon it moves.

Leontes

Let be, let be. Would I were dead, but that, methinks, already— What was he that did make it? See, my lord, Would you not deem it breathed? and that those veins Did verily bear blood?

Polixenes

Masterly done: The very life seems warm upon her lip.

Leontes

The fixture of her eye has motion in't, As we are mock'd with art.

Paulina

I'll draw the curtain: My lord's almost so far transported that He'll think anon it lives.

Leontes

O sweet Paulina, Make me to think so twenty years together! No settled senses of the world can match The pleasure of that madness. Let 't alone.

Paulina

I am sorry, sir, I have thus far stirr'd you: but I could afflict you farther.

Leontes

Do, Paulina; For this affliction has a taste as sweet As any cordial comfort. Still, methinks, There is an air comes from her: what fine chisel Could ever yet cut breath? Let no man mock me, For I will kiss her.

Paulina

Good my lord, forbear: The ruddiness upon her lip is wet; You'll mar it if you kiss it, stain your own With oily painting. Shall I draw the curtain?

Leontes

No, not these twenty years.

Perdita

So long could I Stand by, a looker on.

Paulina

Either forbear, Quit presently the chapel, or resolve you For more amazement. If you can behold it, I'll make the statue move indeed, descend And take you by the hand; but then you'll think— Which I protest against—I am assisted By wicked powers.

Leontes

What you can make her do, I am content to look on: what to speak, I am content to hear; for 'tis as easy To make her speak as move.

Paulina

It is required You do awake your faith. Then all stand still; On: those that think it is unlawful business I am about, let them depart.

Leontes

Proceed: No foot shall stir.

Paulina

Music, awake her; strike!

Music

'Tis time; descend; be stone no more; approach; Strike all that look upon with marvel. Come, I'll fill your grave up: stir, nay, come away, Bequeath to death your numbness, for from him Dear life redeems you. You perceive she stirs:

Hermione comes down

Start not; her actions shall be holy as You hear my spell is lawful: do not shun her Until you see her die again; for then You kill her double. Nay, present your hand: When she was young you woo'd her; now in age Is she become the suitor?

Leontes

O, she's warm! If this be magic, let it be an art Lawful as eating.

Polixenes

She embraces him.

Camillo

She hangs about his neck: If she pertain to life let her speak too.

Polixenes

Ay, and make't manifest where she has lived, Or how stolen from the dead.

Paulina

That she is living, Were it but told you, should be hooted at Like an old tale: but it appears she lives, Though yet she speak not. Mark a little while. Please you to interpose, fair madam: kneel And pray your mother's blessing. Turn, good lady; Our Perdita is found.

Hermione

You gods, look down And from your sacred vials pour your graces Upon my daughter's head! Tell me, mine own. Where hast thou been preserved? where lived? how found Thy father's court? for thou shalt hear that I, Knowing by Paulina that the oracle Gave hope thou wast in being, have preserved Myself to see the issue.

Paulina

There's time enough for that; Lest they desire upon this push to trouble Your joys with like relation. Go together, You precious winners all; your exultation Partake to every one. I, an old turtle, Will wing me to some wither'd bough and there My mate, that's never to be found again, Lament till I am lost.

Leontes

O, peace, Paulina! Thou shouldst a husband take by my consent, As I by thine a wife: this is a match, And made between's by vows. Thou hast found mine; But how, is to be question'd; for I saw her, As I thought, dead, and have in vain said many A prayer upon her grave. I'll not seek far— For him, I partly know his mind—to find thee An honourable husband. Come, Camillo, And take her by the hand, whose worth and honesty Is richly noted and here justified By us, a pair of kings. Let's from this place. What! look upon my brother: both your pardons, That e'er I put between your holy looks My ill suspicion. This is your son-in-law, And son unto the king, who, heavens directing, Is troth-plight to your daughter. Good Paulina, Lead us from hence, where we may leisurely Each one demand an answer to his part Perform'd in this wide gap of time since first We were dissever'd: hastily lead away.

Exeunt