his son marrying below his social station. The flowers that are given are autumn flowers because it is harvest time, to middle-aged men. Camillo and Polixenes get rosemary and rue, perennial herbs, while the girls and Florizel get a beautiful speech about the flowers that Perdita doesn't have for them, because it is not spring. Overall, the fitting of flowers to ages seems the most important aspect of this part of the scene, not the philosophising about art and nature which Perdita diverts, onto herself:

"I'll not put
The dibble in earth to set one slip of them;
No more than, were I painted, I would wish
This youth to say 'twere well, and only therefore
Desire to breed by me" (4.4.99-102)

Perdita has no time for "painting" because it is unchaste and because she has no need for it. Nevertheless, she is not artless, since her poetry from line 110 onward is highly rhetorical: she talks evocatively about what she does not have - creating a powerful presence on the stage from the description of what is absent. She notices something is happening:

"Come, take your flowers:
Methinks I play as I have seen them do
In Whitsun pastorals: sure this robe of mine
Does change my disposition" (4.4.132-5)

While Perdita attributes her changing nature to her new attire, Florizel's next speech, a lyric moment unparalleled in Shakespeare's dramatic work, attributes it to her, creating a timeless picture of her "present deeds" that exemplifies the entire scene's insistence on immediacy and performance. In particular, the word "still" combines a sense of continuity with one of stasis that anticipates its use in T.S. Eliot's Burnt Norton. For all her arguments in favour of constancy, Perdita has a vivacious, mercurial grace: playfully she transforms Florizel's faux pas - "what, like a corpse?" into "a bank, for love to lie and play on", literally resuscitating a linguistic dead-end. This ability to play with words and transform meanings is shared most obviously by Autolycus and Hermione and is by no means unconditionally admired, since it can be deceitful or false. Perdita's reaction to Florizel's praise is to address him as Doricles and say that were it not for his youth and "the true blood which peeps fairly through't", which show him to be "an unstained shepherd", she would think he was wooing her "the false way". We accept his true blood even though we know very well that he is neither really Doricles nor a shepherd, and throughout the play that which distinguishes true and false is less a matter of lying or not lying than a matter of life.

ii) Perdita and Florizel join the dance of Shepherds and Shepherdesses while Polixenes enquires of Florizel from the Shepherd. A servant enters with news of Autolycus' arrival, and after his songs and wares are enthusiastically described, he is let in, singing. Mopsa reminds the Clown of the presents he promised her, despite his excuse that he was robbed. Then they choose a ballad, making sure that it is both "true" and up-to-date. The ballads parody contemporary ballads and broadsides, being manifestly impossible, but the credulity of the country people is not purely the target of ridicule, since their consumption of stories creates a market for tales that is like the market for plays, which also have to be 'new' and 'true'. The meaning of the word 'true' is slightly extended to combine the criterion that the story actually occurred with the criterion that it be incredible, a sensation. Dorcas and Mopsa sing with Autolycus, and then exit with the Clown, leaving the Shepherd and gentlemen to their "sad talk".

The Servant enters again, this time to announce that twelve herdsmen are at the door, hoping to perform a dance. The Shepherd is worried that his guests are tired of such country entertainments but Polixenes urges him to admit them, and the servant adds that "one three of them, by their own report, sir, hath danced before the king" (4.4.357)- doubly ironic since not only is Polixenes the king, but the king in the real audience, James I, had recently seen a similar dance of satyrs in Ben Jonson's Masque of Oberon. During the dance, Polixenes taxes Florizel with the fact that unlike the Clown he has not given his "she" any presents, as has the Clown, and as had Polixenes (this is the second of the two references to Florizel's mother in the whole play). Florizel protests his love is not a matter of such trifles, and Polixenes suggests that Florizel's effusive praise of his love is a little overdone, so Florizel asks him to be witness to a profession of it. This becomes a betrothal - the Shepherd says "Take hands, a bargain" - and all seems to be going perfectly until Polixenes asks why Florizel's father is not party to the deal. Florizel insists he cannot know, Polixenes discovers himself and furiously disowns his son, sentences the Shepherd with death

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