HELENA of Rousillon

All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 1, Scene 3, 188-214
Arden 3 | Suzanne Gossett and Helen Wilcox | London: Bloomsbury, 2018 | 166-168

“Then I confess, Here on my knee…”

Speech
Arden 3

HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Words and Pronunciation +
Arden 3

Words

before: in front of … more than (Gossett & Wilcox)

high heaven: alliteration, but also an underscoring of heaven as the highest (beyond Helena) thing (Leung)

friend: The word had a broad spectrum of meaning in Early Modern English, denoting not only a close companion and acquaintance (OED n. 1) but a relative (OED n. 3), more generally a supporter (OED n. 4) and finally a lover (OED n. 6). The Countess and Lavatch play on the different senses at 1.3.39–42. Cf. 1.3.192. (Gossett & Wilcox); relative, relation, kinsman (SW)

poor: having no riches or even any property, indigent, needy (Schmidt);

honest: true in words and deeds (Schmidt); chaste, pure, virtuous (SW); honourable, respectable, upright (SW); genuine, real, true (SW); innocent, well-intentioned, innocuous (SW)

loved of: loved by, beloved of (Leung)

presumptuous suit: Here suit means primarily ‘courtship’ (OED n. 12), but it shades into the play’s more frequent usage, a general supplication (OED n. 11a), as at 2.3.76. Metaphorically, Helen denies that she will dress herself in a manner more aristocratic than her status warrants, suit resonating with its first use in the play, when Paroles describes an old courtier as ‘richly suited, but unsuitable’ (1.1.155–6). Helen denies that her suit is presumptuous, that is, ‘unduly confident or bold’ (OED adj. 1), but presumptuous goes especially well with suit because of the adjective’s association with sumptuousness in clothing and sumptuary law (HRW). Cf. 3.5.70, 5.3.160, Epil.2. (Gossett & Wilcox)

suit: wooing, courtship (SW); formal request, entreaty, petition (SW); clothing, dress, garb (SW)

desert: worth, merit, deserving (SW); deserving, due recompense, right (SW); worthy deed, meritorious action (SW)

in this captious and intenable sieve I still pour in the waters:‘To pour water into a sieve’ is a proverbial image of futility (Dent, W111); cf. MA 5.1.4–5. The so-called ‘sieve’ portrait of Queen Elizabeth by Quentin Metsys the younger (1583) associates Elizabeth with the vestal virgin Tuccia, who proved her chastity by carrying a sieve full of water from the Tiber to the Temple of Vesta. (Gossett & Wilcox)

captious:able to take in or contain, capacious (OED 3a, with this as the only citation) (Gossett & Wilcox)

intenable: incapable of holding or retaining. F2 has ‘intenible’. Hunter interprets F’s ‘intemible’ as meaning that nothing that is poured in can teem out, but the anomalous spelling may have arisen through the compositor misreading minims. The meaning is clarified by contrast in Hamlet’s direction to his companions, ‘If you have hitherto concealed this sight / Let it be tenable [1603 tenible] in your silence still’ (Ham 1.2.245–6). (Gossett & Wilcox)

sieve: basket, hold-all, container [especially market produce](SW)

still: ever, now [as before] (SW); constantly, always, continually (SW)

Indian-like: In LLL 4.3.218–19 the ‘rude and savage man of Ind’ is said to bow and kiss the ground at ‘the first opening of the gorgeous east’. The British, who were exploring both in the East and West Indies at the time, assumed all ‘savages’ (LLL 5.2.202) were sun-worshippers.(Gossett & Wilcox)

encounter: confront, assail, attack (SW); contest, dispute, confront (SW); oppose, thwart, defeat (SW)

aged: experienced, accomplished, mature (SW)

honour: credit, good name, reputation (SW); noble rank, position of dignity, title of renown (SW); fame, renown, glory (SW); object of honour, source of distinction (SW)

cites: proves, constitutes evidence of; OED 4’s only citation for this meaning (Gossett & Wilcox); cite: be evidence of, confirm, acknowledge (SW); call to mind, make reference to (SW); urge, call on, arouse, summon (SW)

virtuous: arising from virtuous practice, justifiable, well warranted (SW); showing fine qualities, praiseworthy (SW)

true: constant, faithful in love (SW); honourable, virtuous, sincere (SW); legitimate, rightful, honourable (SW)

flame…dearly: Helen’s imagery suggests the contradictions in love, with flame indicating a passion that seems sexual rather than chaste. (Gossett & Wilcox); flame: blaze, shine, flash (SW);

liking: desire, will, pleasure (SW); lustful affection, sexual attraction (SW)

wish: hope, desire (SW); entreat, invite (SW)

chastely: chaste: pure, stainless, undefiled (SW); celibate, single, unmarried (SW)

dearly: grievously, at great cost (SW); keenly, deeply, intensely (SW); beautifully, exquisitely, wonderfully (SW)

that your Dian was both herself and Love: So you could be chaste like Diana and yet be the female god of Love or Venus, mythologically Diana’s opposite; cf. 112n. See 213–14n. for a further paradox. (Gossett & Wilcox)

Dian: short for Diana: Roman goddess associated with the Moon, chastity, and hunting (SW)

Love: either Venus or Cupid (in female form) (Leung); also Gossett & Wilcox

pity: be merciful to, assist (SW)

state…lose:‘condition is that of someone who cannot avoid investing where she is certain to lose’; cf. Son 64.13–14, ‘This thought is as a death, which cannot choose / But weep to have that which it fears to lose’. (Gossett & Wilcox)

state: condition (Leung); status, rank, position (SW)

lines 213-214: This couplet emphasizes the paradoxical nature of Helen’s love, which, she claims, paralyses her. However, her assertion that she ‘seeks not to find that her search implies’, that is, that she is doing nothing actively to achieve her love, is immediately challenged by the Countess recalling Helen’s intent (215); see 1.1.225n. The couplet’s second line (214) is the first of the play’s many riddles, confounding death and life, but the sexual suggestion in sweetly … dies will be confirmed when Helen speaks of the sweet (sexual) use Bertram has made of her, presumably leading to orgasm or ‘death’ (4.4.22). Cf. 3.2.57–60, 3.7.45–7 and n, 4.3.221n., 5.3.268–79, 5.3.300–1, and pp. 105, 112. (Gossett & Wilcox)

riddle-like: in the manner of a riddle. hiding the truth of a situation (SW)

riddle:

Pronunciation +

line 191:The half line, with the implied long pause following, emphasizes Helen’s simple declaration of her feelings. (Gossett & Wilcox)

line 194: Helen is being disingenuous. She has not yet said she would follow Bertram, but earlier she referred to my project and announced that her ‘intents are fixed and will not leave me’ (1.1.224–5), so she does appear to have a plan to deserve him.) (Gossett & Wilcox)

presumptuous:  (line 195) pre-zump-chuss or pre-zump-chew-uss

captious: (line 199) capt-shuss, or capt-shoe-uss

intenable: (line 199) in-ten-uh-bull

line 201-204: Just as the sun is oblivious to those that adore him, Bertram knows nothing of Helen’s love. (Gossett & Wilcox)

aged: (line 207) agèd

Dian: (line 209) die-enn, or die-ann, or die-unn

Translation
No Fear Shakespeare

HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Assonance
Arden 3

HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Alliteration
Arden 3

HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Consonance
Arden 3

HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Thoughts
Arden 3

HELEN
1. —————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
2. My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
3. Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. 4. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
5. I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
b. Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. 6. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. 7. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; b. but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
c. That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

THOUGHTS

Long: 1
Medium: 4
Short: 2
Complex: 22, 3

End stopped: 3
Midline: 4

Period: 7
Exclamation: 0
Question: 0
Dash: 0

Total: 7

Rhythm
Arden 3

HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Pacing
Arden 3

HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.
My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Beats
Arden 3

 


HELEN
—————————–Then I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,                      190
I love your son.


My friends were poor but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me. I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,                                     195
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope;
Yet in this captious and intenable sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love                                        200
And lack not to lose still. Thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more.


—————————-My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love                             205
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and Love, O then give pity                         210
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies.

Action Analysis

Beat 1:

Helena picks up her speech mid-line. She is pushed to confess her love by the Countess. The actress needs to pick up the cue (start the speech) as if she is blurting it out, or cutting off the Countess.

Her action here appears to simply be to make understand that she loves Bertram.

Beat 2:

The actress is given a pause before this beat starts; what is going on during that pause?

The beat is arguably a series of short beats made up of arguments for why the Countess should not be threatened by her love, or should overlook her inappropriate love for her son.

Beat 3: 

What makes this arguably a third beat in spite of the fact that the speech is a list of reasons why Helena’s love should be forgiven beginning after beat 1, is that the subject turns from Helena’s love as something harmless or to be dismissed, to an appeal to the Countess’ sense of empathy or compassion, as someone virtuous who may have loved before.

HELENA
of Rousillon

Helena’s speeches and analyses.

Helena | Act 1, Scene 3 | 111-137

Then I confess | Here on my knee and before high heaven…

Source
RSC | Jonathan Bate & Eric Rasmussen. London: Royal Shakespeare Company, 2001

HELENA
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope.
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

Thought Counts
RSC | 2001

Short: 2
Medium: 1
Long: 3 [4]
Total: 6 [7]

End-stopped: 4
Mid-line: 2 [3]

Periods: 5
Exclamations: 1
Questions: 0
Unfinished: 0 [1]

Objective

Helena needs the Countess to…

Thoughts
RSC | 2001

HELENA
1. Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
2. My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.
3. Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
4. I know I love in vain, strive against hope.
5. Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. 6. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

Line Analysis
TBA | 200?

HELENA
Then, I confess,                                                                 | finishing
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,              10 | 11
That before you, and next unto high heaven,        11w | 10
I love your son.                                                                | incomplete
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.            10R
Be not offended, for it hurts not him                             10R 10
That he is loved of me; I follow him not                     10R 11
By any token of presumptuous suit,                             10R | 11 
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,             11W
Yet never know how that desert should be.             10R
I know I love in vain, strive against hope.           10
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve                 10 – 12
I still pour in the waters of my love                           10R
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,         10 | 11
Religious in mine error, I adore                         10R 11
The sun that looks upon his worshipper               10R
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,           11w
Let not your hate encounter with my love,                10R
For loving where you do; but if yourself,                10R
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,          10R 11
Did ever in so true a flame of liking                       11w
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian       11w
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity     11w 
To her whose state is such that cannot choose           10R
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;           10R
That seeks not to find that her search implies,      10   missing word (which)
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!              10R

Phrasing and Tempo
TBA | 2009

HELENA
Then, <cI confess,
Here on my knee, <c> before high heaven and you,   slowly |
That before you, <c> and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.   PAUSE    slowly
My friends were poor, <c> but honest, <c> so’s my love.       slowly?
Be not offended, <c> for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; <c> I follow him not                 slowly |
By any token of presumptuous suit,     carefully
Nor would I have him <c> till I do deserve him,         slowly |
Yet never know how that desert should be.    pause
I know I love in vain, <c> strive against hope.      pause      slowly |
Yet in this captious <c> and intenible sieve
I still <c> pour in the waters of my love
And lack not <c> to lose still; <c> thus, <c> Indian-like,   carefully  slowly |
Religious in mine error, <c> I adore
The sun <c> that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. <c> My dearest madam,   slowly |
Let not your hate <c> encounter with my love,       slowly?
For loving where you do; <c> but if yourself,
Whose aged honour <c> cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever <c> in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely <c> and love dearly, <c> that your Dian    carefully
Was both herself and love – <c> O, <c> then, <c> give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose    carefully
But lend and give <c> where she is sure to lose;     carefully   slowly
That seeks not to find that her search implies,     slowly?
But riddle-like <c> lives sweetly where she dies!   carefully

Sounds
TBA | 200?

HELENA
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope.
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

Rhetoric
TBA | 2009

HELENA
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,          (this and that)
That before you, and next unto high heaven,              (this and that)
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.         (comparison)
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.                 (antithesis)
I know I love in vain, strive against hope.                   (parallel, formidable phraseology, list)
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve                 (this and that, imagery, metaphor)
I still pour in the waters of my love                          (metaphor, imagery)
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,              (simile)
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper                  (imagery, metaphor)
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,        (antithesis)
Let not your hate encounter with my love,             (antithesis)
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking                        (metaphor, imagery)
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian         (comparison, metaphor, imagery, this and that)
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity        (this and that)
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;                (this and that, antithesis)
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!                (antithesis, simile, imagery)

Before and After
TBA | 200?

COUNTESS
Well, now.

Steward

I know, madam, you love your gentlewoman entirely.

COUNTESS
Faith, I do: her father bequeathed her to me; and she herself, without other advantage, may lawfully make title to as much love as she finds: there is more owing her than is paid; and more shall be paid her than she’ll demand.

Steward
Madam, I was very late more near her than I think she wished me: alone she was, and did communicate to herself her own words to her own ears; she thought, I dare vow for her, they touched not any stranger sense. Her matter was, she loved your son: Fortune, she said, was no goddess, that had put such difference betwixt their two estates; Love no god, that would not extend his might, only where qualities were level; Dian no queen of virgins, that would suffer her poor knight surprised, without rescue in the first assault or ransom afterward. This she delivered in the most bitter touch of sorrow that e’er I heard virgin exclaim in: which I held my duty speedily to acquaint you withal; sithence, in the loss that may happen, it concerns you something to know it.

COUNTESS
You have discharged this honestly; keep it to yourself: many likelihoods informed me of this before, which hung so tottering in the balance that I could neither believe nor misdoubt. Pray you, leave me: stall this in your bosom; and I thank you for your honest care: I will speak with you further anon.

Exit Steward

Enter HELENA

Even so it was with me when I was young:
If ever we are nature’s, these are ours; this thorn
Doth to our rose of youth rightly belong;
Our blood to us, this to our blood is born;
It is the show and seal of nature’s truth,
Where love’s strong passion is impress’d in youth:
By our remembrances of days foregone,
Such were our faults, or then we thought them none.
Her eye is sick on’t: I observe her now.

HELENA
What is your pleasure, madam?

COUNTESS
You know, Helen,
I am a mother to you.

HELENA
Mine honourable mistress.

COUNTESS
Nay, a mother:
Why not a mother? When I said ‘a mother,’
Methought you saw a serpent: what’s in ‘mother,’
That you start at it? I say, I am your mother;
And put you in the catalogue of those
That were enwombed mine: ’tis often seen
Adoption strives with nature and choice breeds
A native slip to us from foreign seeds:
You ne’er oppress’d me with a mother’s groan,
Yet I express to you a mother’s care:
God’s mercy, maiden! does it curd thy blood
To say I am thy mother? What’s the matter,
That this distemper’d messenger of wet,
The many-colour’d Iris, rounds thine eye?
Why? that you are my daughter?

HELENA
That I am not.

COUNTESS
I say, I am your mother.

HELENA
Pardon, madam;
The Count Rousillon cannot be my brother:
I am from humble, he from honour’d name;
No note upon my parents, his all noble:
My master, my dear lord he is; and I
His servant live, and will his vassal die:
He must not be my brother.

COUNTESS
Nor I your mother?

HELENA
You are my mother, madam; would you were,–
So that my lord your son were not my brother,–
Indeed my mother! or were you both our mothers,
I care no more for than I do for heaven,
So I were not his sister. Can’t no other,
But, I your daughter, he must be my brother?

COUNTESS
Yes, Helen, you might be my daughter-in-law:
God shield you mean it not! daughter and mother
So strive upon your pulse. What, pale again?
My fear hath catch’d your fondness: now I see
The mystery of your loneliness, and find
Your salt tears’ head: now to all sense ’tis gross
You love my son; invention is ashamed,
Against the proclamation of thy passion,
To say thou dost not: therefore tell me true;
But tell me then, ’tis so; for, look thy cheeks
Confess it, th’ one to th’ other; and thine eyes
See it so grossly shown in thy behaviors
That in their kind they speak it: only sin
And hellish obstinacy tie thy tongue,
That truth should be suspected. Speak, is’t so?
If it be so, you have wound a goodly clew;
If it be not, forswear’t: howe’er, I charge thee,
As heaven shall work in me for thine avail,
Tell me truly.

HELENA
Good madam, pardon me!

COUNTESS
Do you love my son?

HELENA
Your pardon, noble mistress!

COUNTESS
Love you my son?

HELENA
Do not you love him, madam?

COUNTESS
Go not about; my love hath in’t a bond,
Whereof the world takes note: come, come, disclose
The state of your affection; for your passions
Have to the full appeach’d.

HELENA
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope.
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

Definitions
TBA | 2009

HELENA
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope.
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

Translation
TBA | 200?

HELENA
Then, I confess,
Here on my knee, before high heaven and you,
That before you, and next unto high heaven,
I love your son.
My friends were poor, but honest, so’s my love.
Be not offended, for it hurts not him
That he is loved of me; I follow him not
By any token of presumptuous suit,
Nor would I have him till I do deserve him,
Yet never know how that desert should be.
I know I love in vain, strive against hope.
Yet in this captious and intenible sieve
I still pour in the waters of my love
And lack not to lose still; thus, Indian-like,
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper
But knows of him no more. My dearest madam,
Let not your hate encounter with my love,
For loving where you do; but if yourself,
Whose aged honour cites a virtuous youth,
Did ever in so true a flame of liking
Wish chastely and love dearly, that your Dian
Was both herself and love – O, then, give pity
To her whose state is such that cannot choose
But lend and give where she is sure to lose;
That seeks not to find that her search implies,
But riddle-like lives sweetly where she dies!

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