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The Winter's Tale Scenes

Scene 1


The Chorus, Time itself, tells us of the passing of sixteen years, how Leontes has shut himself up in his palace while Perdita grew up in the shepherd’s care, and how the girl has fallen in love with Florizel, Polixenes’s son, who loves her in return. (32 lines)

Enter Time, the Chorus.


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,

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 pow’r

To o’erthrow law, and in one self-born hour

To plant and o’erwhelm custom. Let me pass

The same I am, ere ancient’st order was,

Or what is now receiv’d. I witness to

The times that brought them in; so shall I do

To th’ freshest things now reigning, and make stale

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—

Th’ effects of his fond jealousies so grieving

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’ th’ King’s, which Florizel

I now name to you; and with speed so pace

To speak of Perdita, now grown in grace

Equal with wond’ring. What of her ensues

I list not prophesy; but let Time’s news

Be known when ’tis brought forth. A shepherd’s daughter,

And what to her adheres, which follows after,

Is th’ 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.



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