Act 1 Scene 1 running scene 1
Enter Orsino Duke of Illyria, Curio and other Lords Music plays
ORSINO 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 odour. Enough, no more,
'Tis not so sweet now as it was before. Music stops
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.
CURIO Will you go hunt, my lord?
ORSINO What, Curio?
CURIO The hart.
ORSINO Why so I do, the noblest that I have.
O, when mine eyes did see Olivia first,
Methought she purged the air of pestilence.
That instant was I turned into a hart,
And my desires, like fell and cruel hounds,
E'er since pursue me.
How now, what news from her?
VALENTINE 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 veilèd 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.
ORSINO 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 killed the flock of all affections else
That live in her - when liver, brain and heart,
These sovereign thrones, are all supplied, and filled
Her sweet perfections with one self king!
Away before me, to sweet beds of flowers.
Love thoughts lie rich when canopied with bowers.
Act 1 Scene 2 running scene 2
Enter Viola, a Captain and Sailors
VIOLA What country, friends, is this?
CAPTAIN This is Illyria, lady.
VIOLA And what should I do in Illyria?
My brother he is in Elysium.
Perchance he is not drowned: what think you, sailors?
CAPTAIN It is perchance that you yourself were saved.
VIOLA O, my poor brother! And so perchance may he be.
CAPTAIN True, madam, and to comfort you with chance,
Assure yourself, after our ship did split,
When you and those poor number saved with you
Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother,
Most provident in peril, bind himself -
Courage and hope both teaching him the practice -
To a strong mast that lived upon the sea,
Where, like Arion on the dolphin's back,
I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves
So long as I could see.
VIOLA For saying so, there's gold. Gives money
Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope,
Whereto thy speech serves for authority,
The like of him. Know'st thou this country?
CAPTAIN Ay, madam, well, for I was bred and born
Not three hours' travel from this very place.
VIOLA Who governs here?
CAPTAIN A noble duke, in nature as in name.
VIOLA What is his name?
VIOLA Orsino. I have heard my father name him.
He was a bachelor then.
CAPTAIN And so is now, or was so very late,
For but a month ago I went from hence,
And then 'twas fresh in murmur - as you know,
What great ones do, the less will prattle of -
That he did seek the love of fair Olivia.
VIOLA What's she?
CAPTAIN A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
That died some twelvemonth since, then leaving her
In the protection of his son, her brother,
Who shortly also died, for whose dear love,
They say, she hath abjured the sight
And company of men.
VIOLA O that I served that lady,
And might not be delivered to the world
Till I had made mine own occasion mellow,
What my estate is.
CAPTAIN That were hard to compass,
Because she will admit no kind of suit,
No, not the duke's.
VIOLA There is a fair behaviour in thee, captain,
And though that nature with a beauteous wall
Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee
I will believe thou hast a mind that suits
With this thy fair and outward character.
I prithee - and I'll pay thee bounteously -
Conceal me what I am, and be my aid
For such disguise as haply shall become
The form of my intent. I'll serve this duke.
Thou shalt present me as an eunuch to him.
It may be worth thy pains, for I can sing
And speak to him in many sorts of music
That will allow me very worth his service.
What else may hap, to time I will commit,
Only shape thou thy silence to my wit.
CAPTAIN Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be:
When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
VIOLA I thank thee. Lead me on.
Copyright © 2010 by William Shakespeare. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.