Was sober when he wrote
That this world of fact we love
Is unsubstantial stuff:
All the rest is silence
On the other side of the wall;
And the silence ripeness,
And the ripeness all.
-- W. H. Auden, The Sea and the Mirror
When Shakespeare makes Julio Romano's statue mysteriously descend from its pedestal and live again as Hermione, he does more than dramatize the regenerative theme of The Winter's Tale. Tantalizing interplay between art and nature is not merely a perennial concern of pastoral (and therefore of the romances as a group) but a continuing preoccupation in Shakespearean drama, as other chapters in this volume illustrate, from the earliest to the latest plays. But, as G. Wilson Knight among others has noticed, 1 this scene resonates with an otherworldly suggestiveness and bears a visionary emphasis peculiar to the final phase of Shakespeare's dramaturgy. Listen to Paulina:
As she liv'd peerless,
So her dead likeness, I do well believe,
Excels whatever yet you look'd upon
Or hand of man hath done. Therefore I keep it
Lonely, apart. But here it is. Prepare
To see the life as lively mock'd as ever
Still sleep mock'd death. Behold, and say 'tis well.
[Paulina draws a curtain, and discovers]
Hermione [standing] like a statue.
I like your silence; it the more shows off