This is yet another entry in my “Director’s Notes” category.
Orsino’s Court is gathered, as he enters declaring for yet more music:
Orsino: Give me some Musick! Now good morrow friends.
Orsino then addresses Cesario about the old and clown-like song sung last night, plenty brisk and light…
Now good Cesario, but that piece of song,
That old and Antic song we heard last night;
Methought it did release my passion much,
More than light airs, and recollected terms
Of these most brisk and giddy-paced times.
Come, but one verse.
Though it would be Curio who answers:
Curio: He is not here (to please your Lordship) that should sing it?
Orsino, out of his daze, realizes it wasn’t Cesario who sung, but someone else? (This Cesario-Feste song-voice confusion implies that Feste’s voice might be that of an eunuch’s, and thus we’ve cast a girl for Feste.)
Orsino: Who was it?
Curio, ever-reminding Orsino of his advance age, closer to that of Olivia’s father’s:
Curio: Feste the Jester, my Lord, a fool that the Lady Olivia’s Father took much delight in. He is about the house.
I imagine Orsino going into another sort of “fugue” from his lovesickness, thus when he says “Seek him out,” Orsino refers to both Olivia’s father and Feste the Jester.
Orsino: Seek him out, and play the tune the while.
Music plays, as Orsino describes to Cesario how skittish a lover is, and that these tremors and ticks can only be quenched to a monogamous standing-still-contentedness in the beloved’s presence — ideally, this would be timed (in a way, as if Orsino is saying lyrics to a song, timing to tune) so that the tune climaxes to a recognizable phrase right when Orsino says “How does thou like this tune”:
Come hither Boy, if ever thou shalt love
In the sweet pangs of it, remember me:
For such as I am, all true Lovers are,
Unstaid and skittish in all motions else,
Save in the constant image of the creature
That is belov’d. How does thou like this tune?
Viola reveals much about the tune–it reflects Orsino’s flavor of wild, lyric abandon in love:
It gives a very echo to the seat
Where love is thorn’d.
Orsino, after commending Viola’s lines as a sort of wisdom (though she might have meant it, more satirically), basically says, “I’ll bet my life on it — that you’re in love, right, boy?”:
Thou dost speak masterly,
My life upon’t — young though thou art, thine eye
Hath stay’d upon some favour that it loves:
Hath it not boy?
Viola replies, “Just a bit, and only if you like it…”:
Viola: A little, by your favour.
It’s curious that Orsino asks “what kind” instead of another question, but this gives Viola a good opportunity to be both obvious, yet general — she completes his pentameter, thus the two lines together, express a full thought:
Orsino: What kind of woman is’t?
Viola: Of your complexion.
Orsino humble? “I’m not good enough for you, boy?” Or, does he identify himself with “old”, when considering himself with the boy, and, hence his followup “question for clarification”:
Orsino: She is not worth thee then. What years i’faith?
Viola pauses for a few syllables, starting only at the end of her fresh pentameter:
Viola: About your years, my Lord.
Orsino would begin his line with a sort of incredulous chuckle, and then advise Cesario on the way “things should be”: that the woman should take someone older than herself, and adapt herself to him, to thus “level her place” in her husband’s heart. She’d have to do that because men aren’t constant creatures, however they might praise themselves, but have giddy, more fleeting fancies than women’s.
Too old by heavens: Let still the woman take
An elder than herself, so wears she to him;
So sways the level in her husband’s heart:
For, boy, however we do praise ourselves,
Our fancies are more giddy and unfirm,
More longing, wavering, sooner lost and worn,
Than women’s are.
Viola replies, immediately, completing Orsino’s pentameter with, “I think that’s ok, even though”.
Viola: I think it well, my Lord.
Orsino beseeches Cesario to find a younger love, one younger than even himself, or his affection would not be able to stand the change–for women are like roses, whose fairness falls the moment they are picked.
Then let thy Love be younger than thyself,
Or thy affection cannot hold the bent:
For women are as Roses, whose fair flower
Being once displayed, doth fall that very hour.
Viola agrees, finds it pitiful, summarizes the crux of the problem, lyrically, “To die, even when they to perfection grow.”
And so they are: alas, that they are so:
To die, even when they to perfection grow.