Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.

Twelfth Night: Act 2, Scene 4

           Enter DUKE ORSINO, VIOLA, CURIO,
           and others.

  1   Give me some music. Now, good morrow, friends.
  2   Now, good Cesario, but that piece of song,
2. but: just, as in "just another slice of cake, please."

  3   That old and antique song we heard last night:
3. antique: of the good old times.

  4   Methought it did relieve my passion much,
4. relieve my passion: comfort me.

  5   More than light airs and recollected terms
5. light airs: trivial tunes. recollected terms: perhaps common clichés.

  6   Of these most brisk and giddy-paced times:
  7   Come, but one verse.

  8   He is not here, so please your lordship that should
  9   sing it.

 10   Who was it?

 11   Feste, the jester, my lord; a fool that the lady
11. Feste: This is the only time that the clown's name is mentioned. In speech-headings he's "Clown."

 12   Olivia's father took much delight in. He is
 13   about the house.

 14   Seek him out, and play the tune the while.

           [Exit CURIO.] Music plays.

 15   Come hither, boy: if ever thou shalt love,
 16   In the sweet pangs of it remember me;
 17   For such as I am all true lovers are,
 18   Unstaid and skittish in all motions else,
18. Unstaid: unsteady. motions else: other thoughts and feelings.

 19   Save in the constant image of the creature
 20   That is beloved. How dost thou like this tune?

 21   It gives a very echo to the seat
 22   Where Love is throned.
21-22. gives a very echo to the seat / Where Love is throned: echoes the feelings of the loving heart.

 22                                      Thou dost speak masterly:
 23   My life upon't, young though thou art, thine eye
 24   Hath stay'd upon some favour that it loves:
24. stay'd upon: lingered over. favour: face.

 25   Hath it not, boy?

 25                               A little, by your favour.
25. by your favour: if you please. (Viola, who loves Orsino, also means thanks to you and near to your appearance.)

 26   What kind of woman is't?

 26                                           Of your complexion.
26. complexion: complexion, appearance.

 27   She is not worth thee, then. What years, i' faith?
27. She is not worth thee, then: (Orsino is being modest; if the woman looks like him, "Cesario" could do better.)
Viola and Orsino

 28   About your years, my lord.

 29   Too old by heaven: let still the woman take
 30   An elder than herself: so wears she to him,
30. wears she: adapts herself.

 31   So sways she level in her husband's heart:
31. sways she level: i.e., always holds the same place.

 32   For, boy, however we do praise ourselves,
 33   Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm,
33. fancies: affections, loves.

 34   More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn,
34. worn: worn out.

 35   Than women's are.

 35                                 I think it well, my lord.

 36   Then let thy love be younger than thyself,
 37   Or thy affection cannot hold the bent;
37. hold the bent: keep its intensity (In Orsino's metaphor, "affection" is compared to a bow bent to shoot an arrow.)

 38   For women are as roses, whose fair flower
 39   Being once display'd, doth fall that very hour.
39. display'd: in full bloom.

 40   And so they are: alas, that they are so;
 41   To die, even when they to perfection grow!
41. even when: just when.

           Enter CURIO and Clown.

 42   O, fellow, come, the song we had last night.
 43   Mark it, Cesario, it is old and plain;
42. fellow: To the Clown. (This is a nice way of speaking to someone of lower social status.) 43. Mark: Pay close attention. 44. spinsters: women who spin thread.

 44   The spinsters and the knitters in the sun
 45   And the free maids that weave their thread with bones
45. free: carefree. bones: bobbins used in making lace.

 46   Do use to chant it: it is silly sooth,
 47   And dallies with the innocence of love,
46. Do use: Are accustomed. silly sooth: simple, innocent truth. 47. dallies with: plays lovingly with. 48. Like the old age: As in the good old days.

 48   Like the old age.

 49   Are you ready, sir?

 50   Ay; prithee, sing.


           THE SONG

 51        Come away, come away, death,
51. Come away: i.e., come (away from where you are) to me.

 52        And in sad cypress let me be laid;
52. in . . . cypress: in a cyrpress coffin or among boughs of cypress (Cypress was emblematic of death and mourning.)

 53      Fly away, fly away breath;
 54        I am slain by a fair cruel maid.
 55      My shroud of white, stuck all with yew,
55. stuck all with yew: decorated with sprigs of yew. (Yew was also emblematic of death and mourning.)

 56             O, prepare it!
 57      My part of death, no one so true
 58             Did share it.
57-58. My . . . it: i.e., I am the truest lover who has ever died for love, or I had to die alone, because only I was so true to love.

 59      Not a flower, not a flower sweet
 60        On my black coffin let there be strown;
60. strown: strewn.

 61      Not a friend, not a friend greet
 62        My poor corpse, where my bones
             shall be thrown.
 63      A thousand thousand sighs to save,
63. A thousand thousand sighs to save: In order to save a million sighs.

 64             Lay me, O, where
 65      Sad true lover never find my grave,
64-65. where / Sad true lover never find: where no sad true lover may find.

 66             To weep there!

 67   There's for thy pains.
67. pains: efforts. (Orsino offers money.)

 68   No pains, sir: I take pleasure in singing, sir.
Falstaff partying in a tavern

 69   I'll pay thy pleasure then.

 70   Truly, sir, and pleasure will be paid, one time
70. pleasure will be paid: pleasure has to be paid for .

 71   or another.

 72   Give me now leave to leave thee.
72. leave to leave: permission to take leave of.

 73   Now, the melancholy god protect thee; and the
 74   tailor make thy doublet of changeable taffeta, for
74. doublet: tight jacket. changeable taffeta: thin, iridescent, opalescent silk. 75. opal: an iridescent gemstone.

 75   thy mind is a very opal. I would have men of such
 76   constancy put to sea, that their business might be
76. constancy: inconstancy. (The Clown is being ironic: he means that Orsino is inconstant, changeable.)

 77   every thing and their intent every where; for that's
 78   it that always makes a good voyage of nothing. Farewell.


 79   Let all the rest give place.
79. give place: withdraw. (Orsino wants to talk to Cesario alone.)

           [CURIO and Attendants leave the room.]

 79                                                 Once more, Cesario,
 80   Get thee to yond same sovereign cruelty:
80. same sovereign cruelty: Olivia, the "same" person Orsino and Cesario discussed earlier. Orsino calls Olivia "sovereign cruelty," because she is the Queen of his heart. 82. quantity of dirty lands: mere acreage. 83. parts . . . her: gifts of fortune. hold as giddily as fortune: Fortune makes you giddy by changing your fate suddenly. queen of gems: i.e., Olivia's beauty. 86. pranks her in: adorns her with.

 81   Tell her, my love, more noble than the world,
 82   Prizes not quantity of dirty lands;
 83   The parts that fortune hath bestow'd upon her,
 84   Tell her, I hold as giddily as fortune;
 85   But 'tis that miracle and queen of gems
 86   That nature pranks her in attracts my soul.
86. attracts my soul: that captivates my soul.

 87   But if she cannot love you, sir?

 88   I cannot be so answer'd.

 88                                           Sooth, but you must.
88. Sooth: truly.

 89   Say that some lady, as perhaps there is,
 90   Hath for your love a great a pang of heart
90. for your love: because of love for you.

 91   As you have for Olivia: you cannot love her;
 92   You tell her so; must she not then be answer'd?
92. be answer'd: accept your answer with good grace?

 93   There is no woman's sides
 94   Can bide the beating of so strong a passion
94. bide: abide, withstand (without bursting).

 95   As love doth give my heart; no woman's heart
 96   So big, to hold so much; they lack retention
96. retention: the ability to hold true (to one love).

 97   Alas, their love may be call'd appetite,
 98   No motion of the liver, but the palate,
98. motion of the liver: deep emotion. (The liver was the seat of true love.)

 99   That suffer surfeit, cloyment and revolt;
99. suffer: experience. cloyment: glut. revolt: revulsion.

100   But mine is all as hungry as the sea,
101   And can digest as much: make no compare
102   Between that love a woman can bear me
102. bear me: have for me.

103   And that I owe Olivia.
103. owe Olivia: have for Olivia Toby Stephans as Orsino.

103                                     Ay, but I know —

104   What dost thou know?

105   Too well what love women to men may owe:
106   In faith, they are as true of heart as we.
107   My father had a daughter loved a man,
108   As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
109   I should your lordship.

109                                         And what's her history?

110   A blank, my lord. She never told her love,
111   But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
112   Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought,
damask112. damask: pink and white, like the damask rose. 113. green and yellow: pale and sallow. 114. like patience on a monument: like a scupture of Patience on a tomb.

113   And with a green and yellow melancholy
114   She sat like patience on a monument,
115   Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?
116   We men may say more, swear more: but indeed
117   Our shows are more than will; for still we prove
117. will: desire, feeling. still: always. prove: demonstrate.

118   Much in our vows, but little in our love.

119   But died thy sister of her love, my boy?

120   I am all the daughters of my father's house,
121   And all the brothers too: and yet I know not.
122   Sir, shall I to this lady?
122. shall I to: shall I go to.

122                                           Ay, that's the theme.
123   To her in haste; give her this jewel; say,
124   My love can give no place, bide no denay.
124. can give no place, bide no denay: cannot yield, cannot endure denial.