Illyria. A room in Duke Orsino’s palace.
(Duke of Illyria; Curio; Lords; Musicians; Valentine)
Orsino, Duke of Illyria, is deeply moved by sentimental music. His courtiers try to distract him by encouraging him to hunt, but he merely begins to prattle about his love for the Countess Olivia. His gentleman Valentine returns to inform the Duke that he was not allowed into Olivia’s house to deliver the message Orsino sent her. The Countess is mourning for her dead brother and has sworn to remain veiled and alone for seven years in his memory. Orsino is only further inflamed by this, imagining how much more she could love someone if she loved a brother that much. (43 lines)
Enter Orsino, Duke of Illyria, Curio, and other Lords; Musicians attending.
If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again, it had a dying fall;
O, it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough, no more,
’Tis not so sweet now as it was before.
O spirit of love, how quick and fresh art thou,
That notwithstanding thy capacity
Receiveth as the sea, nought enters there,
Of what validity and pitch soe’er,
But falls into abatement and low price
Even in a minute. So full of shapes is fancy
That it alone is high fantastical.
Will you go hunt, my lord?
Why, so I do, the noblest that I have.
O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,
Methought she purg’d the air of pestilence!
That instant was I turn’d into a hart,
And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,
E’er since pursue me.
How now, what news from her?
So please my lord, I might not be admitted,
But from her handmaid do return this answer:
The element itself, till seven years’ heat,
Shall not behold her face at ample view;
But like a cloistress she will veiled walk,
And water once a day her chamber round
With eye-offending brine; all this to season
A brother’s dead love, which she would keep fresh
And lasting in her sad remembrance.
O, she that hath a heart of that fine frame
To pay this debt of love but to a brother,
How will she love when the rich golden shaft
Hath kill’d the flock of all affections else
That live in her; when liver, brain, and heart,
These sovereign thrones, are all supplied and fill’d
Her sweet perfections with one self king!
Away before me to sweet beds of flow’rs,
Love-thoughts lie rich when canopied with bow’rs.