Love's Labor's Lost "A World-without-end Bargain"

William Shakespeare

"A World-without-end Bargain"

Context: The "finale" of Love's Labour's Lost comes toward the end of Act V when the Princess of France receives word that her father has died suddenly and she must prepare to return home immediately. Ferdinand, King of Navarre, asks the princess to grant him her love, but she replies that the time is "too short" for either of them to commit themselves for the rest of their lives. The word bargain refers to an agreement of marriage–thus the time is too short to decide on a marriage. The princess, however, does promise she will consider Ferdinand's request after a year of mourning for her father and after the king has followed her prescribed penance (to give himself to the scholarly, ascetic life for a year and a day). The other nobles at court receive similar answers from their ladies.

Now at the latest minute of the hour
Grant us your loves.
A time methinks too short
To make a world-without-end bargain in.
No, no, my lord, Your Grace is perjured much,
Full of dear guiltiness; and therefore this:
If for my love, as there is no such cause,
You will do aught, this shall you do for me.
Your oath I will not trust, but go with speed
To some forlorn and naked hermitage,
Remote from all the pleasures of the world;
There stay until the twelve celestial signs
Have brought about their annual reckoning.
If this austere insociable life
Change not your offer made in heat of blood,
If frosts and fasts, hard lodging and thin weeds
Nip not the gaudy blossoms of your love,
But that it bear this trial, and last love;
Then, at the expiration of the year,
Come challenge me, challenge me by these deserts,
And by this virgin palm now kissing thine,
I will be thine; . . .
. . .