As You Like It
Act 3, Scene 5
Enter SILVIUS and PHOEBE
SILVIUS and PHOEBE enter.
Sweet Phoebe, do not scorn me. Do not, Phoebe.
Say that you love me not, but say not so
In bitterness. The common executioner,
Whose heart th' accustomed sight of death makes hard,
Falls not the axe upon the humbled neck
But first begs pardon. Will you sterner be
Than he that dies and lives by bloody drops?
Sweet Phoebe, do not scorn me. Do not, Phoebe. Go ahead and say you don’t love me, but not so bitterly. The executioner, who’s seen death so much his heart has grown hard, still says, “forgive me” before he drops the axe on the criminal’s neck. Are you going to be crueler than the man who makes his living by killing?
Enter ROSALIND, CELIA, and CORIN, behind
ROSALIND, CELIA, and CORIN enter at the back of the stage, unseen.
I would not be thy executioner.
I fly thee, for I would not injure thee.
Thou tell’st me there is murder in mine eye.
'Tis pretty, sure, and very probable
That eyes, that are the frail’st and softest things,
Who shut their coward gates on atomies,
Should be called tyrants, butchers, murderers.
Now I do frown on thee with all my heart,
And if mine eyes can wound, now let them kill thee.
Now counterfeit to swoon, why, now fall down;
Or if thou canst not, Oh, for shame, for shame,
Lie not, to say mine eyes are murderers.
Now show the wound mine eye hath made in thee.
Scratch thee but with a pin, and there remains
Some scar of it. Lean upon a rush,
The cicatrice and capable impressure
Thy palm some moment keeps. But now mine eyes,
Which I have darted at thee, hurt thee not.
Nor, I am sure, there is no force in eyes
That can do hurt.
I don’t want to be your executioner: I’m trying to avoid you so that I won’t hurt you. You tell me my eyes are murderous—that’s a very pretty sentiment, and oh-so-probable, that my frail, soft eyes (which are so cowardly that they close their gates against dust) are tyrants, butchers, and murderers. I’m frowning at you with all my might right now. If my eyes can injure, let them kill you now. Go ahead. Faint, fall down—if you don’t, then you’re lying about my eyes being murderers. Come on, show me the wound that my eyes have caused. If you get scratched with a pin, it leaves a scar; even if you lean on a rush, it leaves an impression on your palm. But my eyes, which I’ve darted at you, haven’t even left a mark. Now I am sure that eyes can’t hurt a person.