home contact

The Winter's Tale

Please see the bottom of the page for helpful resources.

ACT IV  SCENE II Bohemia. The palace of Polixenes. 
POLIXENESI pray thee, good Camillo, be no more importunate:
'tis a sickness denying thee any thing; a death to
grant this.
CAMILLOIt is fifteen years since I saw my country: though
I have for the most part been aired abroad, I5
desire to lay my bones there. Besides, the penitent
king, my master, hath sent for me; to whose feeling
sorrows I might be some allay, or I o'erween to
think so, which is another spur to my departure.
POLIXENESAs thou lovest me, Camillo, wipe not out the rest of10
thy services by leaving me now: the need I have of
thee thine own goodness hath made; better not to
have had thee than thus to want thee: thou, having
made me businesses which none without thee can
sufficiently manage, must either stay to execute15
them thyself or take away with thee the very
services thou hast done; which if I have not enough
considered, as too much I cannot, to be more
thankful to thee shall be my study, and my profit
therein the heaping friendships. Of that fatal20
country, Sicilia, prithee speak no more; whose very
naming punishes me with the remembrance of that
penitent, as thou callest him, and reconciled king,
my brother; whose loss of his most precious queen
and children are even now to be afresh lamented.25
Say to me, when sawest thou the Prince Florizel, my
son? Kings are no less unhappy, their issue not
being gracious, than they are in losing them when
they have approved their virtues.
CAMILLOSir, it is three days since I saw the prince. What30
his happier affairs may be, are to me unknown: but I
have missingly noted, he is of late much retired
from court and is less frequent to his princely
exercises than formerly he hath appeared.
POLIXENESI have considered so much, Camillo, and with some35
care; so far that I have eyes under my service which
look upon his removedness; from whom I have this
intelligence, that he is seldom from the house of a
most homely shepherd; a man, they say, that from
very nothing, and beyond the imagination of his40
neighbours, is grown into an unspeakable estate.
CAMILLOI have heard, sir, of such a man, who hath a
daughter of most rare note: the report of her is
extended more than can be thought to begin from such a cottage.
POLIXENESThat's likewise part of my intelligence; but, I45
fear, the angle that plucks our son thither. Thou
shalt accompany us to the place; where we will, not
appearing what we are, have some question with the
shepherd; from whose simplicity I think it not
uneasy to get the cause of my son's resort thither.50
Prithee, be my present partner in this business, and
lay aside the thoughts of Sicilia.
CAMILLOI willingly obey your command.
POLIXENESMy best Camillo! We must disguise ourselves.

Next: The Winter's Tale, Act 4, 3

Related Articles

 The Winter's Tale: Plot Summary
 Introduction to Hermione
 Introduction to Paulina
 Introduction to Perdita

 Introduction to Leontes
 Introduction to Camillo
 Introduction to Autolycus
 How to Pronounce the Names in The Winter's Tale

 Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
 The Romance Plays
 Shakespeare's Language
 Shakespeare's Metaphors and Similes

 Shakespeare's Reputation in Elizabethan England
 Shakespeare's Impact on Other Writers
 Why Study Shakespeare?

 Quotations About William Shakespeare
 Shakespeare's Boss