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Here Prospero discovers Ferdinand and Miranda playing at chess


Your color be your choice, my liege,

And therefore mine.


All honor leave my body

Should I allow my mind conceive the deed

Wherein I steal a choice from you, fair goddess!


And does your honor know a better means

To designate the teams? For I will not,

Not for a thousand touches from your mouth,

Since I esteem your choices none the less.


Perhaps we may ask Fate to tell the odds.

By Fate I nearly lost my life, by Fate

I lost my father and am a slave to yours.

But if it be the same that brought me you,

And made it possible that in my life

I’d live to see you smile, nay! even cause you one,

Then I forgive its pranks, its silly ways,

And trust it with our game, may it decide.

Ferdinand hides two pieces and lets Miranda decide. After some hesitation.


Alea iacta est, the die is cast!

My lady shall play white.


What a fool

I am to want to play in black.

Would it be vile of me to change my heart

And plead to change my coat? ‘tis friendly match.


Were it another soul to ask, I’d give the nay,

The love I hold for you turns “n” to “y.”

This field of diamonds is no jesting space.

No capers, quips, delightful measures fit

Amongst these bishops, knights and rooks,

As they protect the royal seat from pawns.

The sport of chess, my love, is naught if not

A metaphor for cruel war.


What is that?


Milady, what is what?


Why, what is war?

Pause. Starts setting up the pieces.


The cleanliness shone by your eyes is such

That you could never be suspected of deceit,

Therefore I feel both these my legs unpulled,

And trust that on this isle you have indeed

Been shielded not just from the fiend itself,

But altogether its reports, and very notion.

Tis better such, believe you me, sweet light,

And let us play. My lady shall play black!


My patient log-man, how the dizzy tremor

Of your limbs doth jerk my very health,

As I am witness to your youthful fingers

Succeeding not in setting up the board.

Permit me then to…


Lift a finger? None.

Although this puny pawn does seem to weigh

More tons just now than all your father’s wood,

As said afore, my mistress, dearest wife,

I’d rather burst my tendons, twist my wrists,

Than you should any labor undergo,

While I sit lazy by.


What labor, sir?

You will not wish to suffer such a wife

That husbands her resources just for sun,

Siestas, snacks and strolls, will you, my shrine?

These pieces are but sport, now pray but rest

While I arrange them…


Fancily, bravo!


I beg your pardon?


No no, ‘tis nothing!


‘Tis breeding taught me to insist on naught,

Yet fails now to breast my curiosity.

What was your subtle meaning, gentle sir?


In placing of the camps I am afraid

You have most wondrously performed

With the exception of one slip, my queen.

The kings are those who don’t mind change,

And shift their colors if the match begins,

Whereas the queens, my sovereign love, do stick

To that fair hue which they appear to be.

Your pretty queen is black on white, thus false.


Oh, that I knew!


Of course!


I lied, and had no clue. Unless my ear

Deceives me, kindest lord, you do but try

To humor my naiveté, which proves

Itself suspected of deceit. Your move!


Seek not a harm in any of my humor,

For should a lash fall from your rosy cheek,

Sans thought I’d throw myself at it and catch,

Lest it should suffer any dust, or pain.

But I’d be wary of the snare that is a lie.

White beards say lies can’t stand to be alone,

And do whatever they can do to breed,

And find their partners easier than men.

Your move!


Young though I am, not out yet fifteen years,

I have seen vice enough to last me all the rest

(In Caliban, my father’s serf, the most),

So I encounter it, and walk the other way.

Ergo, my king, I would not have you fret

A second for my being so ensnared

As lies to breed within me. Please, your move!


By my troth, well played!


I thank your noble knight!

He moves enthusiastically.


I thank your mirror on this board, the queen

That gave the shield, her pawn, so easily!

Not one of all my thoughts could ever build

Your temple as a home for any ill.

I fear behind your dulcet words may lie

The doubt of that, milady. Prithee, move!


I made my move, sir.




No doubt at all!

But for the illusory instant methought

I heard my father’s voice come from your pipe.

The wizard’s hefty teaching already is a yoke,

And even less uplifting when it comes from you.

I’d love no more of it. Why takest that pawn?


En passant, fair mistress, was the pawn abducted.

Hath not the wizard’s teaching taught you how?

A prisoner is any spy that moves too quick,

For sentinels that close their eyes but do not sleep.


Sweet lord, you play me false.


No, my dearest love,

I would not for the world. The turn is yours.


Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,

And I would call it fair play.

And yet I heard not of this childish rule.


Tis as childish as any other, my sweet child.


My ear buds have grown sour at the name,

I am your wife, your woman, your sister

If you will. Since you expostulate on lying,

Once and one time only I pass your rule as truth.

It is your turn, dear husband.


That I see…

I’m not quite certain, darling, why my rule,

As other cherished principles I’ve shared,

Is so unpalatable. Not to know

Is thirst of curiosity, thus knowledge.

It is to not want to know that’s ignorance.



Is it your royal etiquette of birth

That asks of you such pompous platitudes?

And I am fairly certain you accused

Me of the sin of ignorance. Your move.


Ignorance is…


Bliss? Please!


Not a jewel proper

To adorn my mistress, nor would I dare

To gift her anything she won’t desire.

I merely thought she’d have well known the game

That she had boasted she had played a million

Times or more. Prithee, lady, careful, check!


Another insult for my present, sir?

This necklace getting bigger by the move

Will end up choking your beloved and leave

You widower. I am a liar now!

Your move.


I never said such thing! You’d best

Cease stealing of my mouth to say your words

And focus on the championship. Lo, check!


When you first walked into my eyes,

I saw the noblest creature ever seen.

I see now, sir, the rank lies not in you,

But in how few the creatures in my eyes.

Please move.


And I see now my patience is mistook

For such a thing that will outlive all time.

Your fairness begs you not to act so harsh,

As I do now to not forget your fairness.

Check mate!


What? When? Wait! How? Why? Oh!



Long Pause.


I apologize.


I do too.


You needn’t apologize. The fault lies solely on this side of the board.


False, my love. I was inconsiderate and patronizing, without realizing it.


Nay, you were trying to protect yourself from my iciness. This island… Let us go far, until we get extremely tired. No more islands. I won’t mind the change one particle. Get me out of here. I would even be comfortable learning war.


I would think not. But I understand the aplomb. We’ll leave right away. Tonight.


I will say, you play mean chess. (mimicking him) “This field of diamonds is no jesting space. Careful, lady, check”!


Culpable of that, yes. I take it from my father.


Speaking of which, I think I hear my own father’s voice.


I’m not hearing anything.


Yes you are! Quick, give me a kiss, before he comes…

They Kiss. Prospero opens the cell.


Sweet lord, you play me false.


No, my dear'st love,

I would not for the world.


Yes, for a score of kingdoms you should wrangle,

And I would call it, fair play.

04 14 15

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