This monologue is from the play All’s Well That Ends Well, a comedy by William Shakespeare. The speech is delivered by Helena, who is very much in love with her husband Bertram. Unfortunately, Bertram is not in love with her and has gone to Italy. Helena receives a letter from her husband stating that he will not go back to France to live with her.
Depressed, Helena delivers this monologue:
Till I Have No Wife I Have Nothing
Act 3. Scene 2.
“Till I have no wife I have nothing in France.”
Nothing in France until he has no wife!
Thou shalt have none, Rossillion, none in France;
Then hast thou all again. Poor Lord, is’t I
That chase thee from thy country and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? And is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim, move the still ‘pearing air
That sings with piercing, do not touch my lord;
Whoever shoots at him, I set him there;
Whoever charges on his forward breast,
I am the caitiff that do hold him to’t;
And though I kill him not, I am the cause
His death was so effected. Better ’twere
I met the ravin lion when he roared
With sharp constraint of hunger; better ’twere
That all the miseries which nature owes
Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rossillion,
Whence honor but of danger wins a scar,
As oft it loses all. I will be gone;
My being here it is that holds thee hence.
Shall I stay here to do’t? No, no, although
The air of paradise did fan the house
And angels officed all. I will be gone,
That pitiful Rumor may report my flight
To consolate thine ear. Come, night—end, day,
For with the dark (poor thief) I’ll steal away.
For those who want to read modernized texts side-by-side Shakespeare’s writings, you can look up: