Enter Gaoler and Wooer
I may depart with little while I live; something
I may cast to you, not much. Alas, the prison I keep,
though it be for great ones, yet they seldom come;
before one salmon, you shall take a number of minnows.
I am given out to be better lined than it can appear to
me report is a true speaker. I would I were really that
I am delivered to be. Marry, what I have, be it what
it will, I will assure upon my daughter at the day of my
Sir, I demand no more than your own offer, and
I will estate your daughter in what I have promised.
Well, we will talk more of this when the solemnity
is past. But have you a full promise of her? When
that shall be seen, I tender my consent.
Enter Gaoler's Daughter with rushes
I have, sir. Here she comes.
Your friend and I have chanced to name you
here, upon the old business; but no more of that now.
So soon as the court hurry is over we will have an end
of it. I'th' meantime look tenderly to the two prisoners;
I can tell you they are princes.
These strewings are for their chamber. 'Tis
pity they are in prison, and 'twere pity they should be
out. I do think they have patience to make any adversity
ashamed; the prison itself is proud of 'em, and they
have all the world in their chamber.
They are famed to be a pair of absolute men.
By my troth, I think fame but stammers 'em;
they stand a grece above the reach of report.
I heard them reported in the battle to be the
Nay, most likely, for they are noble sufferers.
I marvel how they would have looked had they been
victors, that with such a constant nobility enforce a
freedom out of bondage, making misery their mirth and
affliction a toy to jest at.
Do they so?
It seems to me they have no more sense of
sense (n.) 4
perception, awareness, discernment, appreciation
their captivity than I of ruling Athens; they eat well,
look merrily, discourse of many things, but nothing of
their own restraint and disasters. Yet sometime a
divided sigh, martyred as 'twere i'th' deliverance, will
break from one of them; when the other presently gives
it so sweet a rebuke that I could wish myself a sigh to
be so chid, or at least a sigher to be comforted.
I never saw 'em.
The Duke himself came privately in the night,
and so did they; what the reason of it is I know not.
Enter Palamon and Arcite above
Look, yonder they are; that's Arcite looks out.
No, sir, no, that's Palamon! Arcite is the
lower of the twain; you may perceive a part of him.
Go to, leave your pointing. They would not
make us their object. Out of their sight!
It is a holiday to look on them. Lord, the
difference of men!
Exeunt Gaoler, Daughter, and Wooer
How do you, noble cousin?
How do you, sir?
Why, strong enough to laugh at misery,
And bear the chance of war; yet we are prisoners
I fear for ever, cousin.
I believe it,
And to that destiny have patiently
Laid up my hour to come.
O cousin Arcite,
Where is Thebes now? Where is our noble country?
Where are our friends and kindreds? Never more
Must we behold those comforts, never see
The hardy youths strive for the games of honour,
Hung with the painted favours of their ladies,
Like tall ships under sail; then start amongst 'em
And as an east wind leave 'em all behind us,
Like lazy clouds, whilst Palamon and Arcite,
Even in the wagging of a wanton leg,
Outstripped the people's praises, won the garlands,
Ere they have time to wish 'em ours. O, never
Shall we two exercise, like twins of honour,
Our arms again, and feel our fiery horses
Like proud seas under us! Our good swords now –
Better the red-eyed god of war ne'er wore –
Ravished our sides, like age must run to rust,
And deck the temples of those gods that hate us;
These hands shall never draw 'em out like lightning
To blast whole armies more.
Those hopes are prisoners with us; here we are,
And here the graces of our youths must wither
Like a too timely spring; here age must find us,
And – which is heaviest, Palamon – unmarried.
The sweet embraces of a loving wife,
Loaden with kisses, armed with thousand cupids,
Shall never clasp our necks; no issue know us;
No figures of ourselves shall we e'er see
To glad our age, and like young eagles teach 'em
Boldly to gaze against bright arms, and say
‘ Remember what your fathers were, and conquer!’
The fair-eyed maids shall weep our banishments,
And in their songs curse ever-blinded fortune,
Till she for shame see what a wrong she has done
To youth and nature. This is all our world;
We shall know nothing here but one another,
Hear nothing but the clock that tells our woes.
The vine shall grow, but we shall never see it;
Summer shall come, and with her all delights,
But dead-cold winter must inhabit here still.
'Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban hounds,
That shook the aged forest with their echoes,
No more now must we hallow, no more shake
Our pointed javelins, whilst the angry swine
Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages,
Struck with our well-steeled darts. All valiant uses,
The food and nourishment of noble minds,
In us two here shall perish; we shall die –
Which is the curse of honour – lastly,
Children of grief and ignorance.
Even from the bottom of these miseries,
From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
I see two comforts rising, two mere blessings,
If the gods please; to hold here a brave patience,
And the enjoying of our griefs together.
Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
If I think this our prison.
'Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes
Were twinned together. 'Tis most true, two souls
Put in two noble bodies, let 'em suffer
The gall of hazard, so they grow together,
Will never sink, they must not; say they could,
A willing man dies sleeping and all's done.
Shall we make worthy uses of this place
That all men hate so much?
How, gentle cousin?
Let's think this prison holy sanctuary,
To keep us from corruption of worse men.
We are young and yet desire the ways of honour,
That liberty and common conversation,
The poison of pure spirits, might like women
Woo us to wander from. What worthy blessing
Can be but our imaginations
May make it ours? And here being thus together,
We are an endless mine to one another;
We are one another's wife, ever begetting
New births of love; we are father, friends, acquaintance;
We are, in one another, families.
I am your heir, and you are mine; this place
Is our inheritance; no hard oppressor
Dare take this from us; here with a little patience
We shall live long and loving. No surfeits seek us;
The hand of war hurts none here, nor the seas
Swallow their youth. Were we at liberty,
A wife might part us lawfully, or business;
Quarrels consume us; envy of ill men
Crave our acquaintance. I might sicken, cousin,
Where you should never know it, and so perish
Without your noble hand to close mine eyes,
Or prayers to the gods; a thousand chances,
Were we from hence, would sever us.
You have made me –
I thank you, cousin Arcite – almost wanton
With my captivity. What a misery
It is to live abroad, and everywhere!
abroad (adv.) 1
in the outside world, freely at large, elsewhere, everywhere
'Tis like a beast, methinks. I find the court here;
I am sure, a more content; and all those pleasures
That woo the wills of men to vanity
I see through now, and am sufficient
To tell the world 'tis but a gaudy shadow
That old Time as he passes by takes with him.
What had we been, old in the court of Creon,
Where sin is justice, lust and ignorance
The virtues of the great ones? Cousin Arcite,
Had not the loving gods found this place for us,
We had died as they do, ill old men, unwept,
And had their epitaphs, the people's curses.
Shall I say more?
I would hear you still.
Is there record of any two that loved
Better than we do, Arcite?
Sure there cannot.
I do not think it possible our friendship
Should ever leave us.
Till our deaths it cannot;
(Enter Emilia and her Woman below)
And after death our spirits shall be led
To those that love eternally.
(Palamon sees Emilia)
Speak on, sir.
This garden has a world of pleasures in't.
What flower is this?
'Tis called narcissus, madam.
That was a fair boy, certain, but a fool
To love himself; were there not maids enough?
Or were they all hard-hearted?
They could not be to one so fair.
Thou wouldst not.
I think I should not, madam.
That's a good wench;
But take heed to your kindness, though.
Men are mad things.
Will ye go forward, cousin?
Canst not thou work such flowers in silk, wench?
I'll have a gown full of 'em and of these.
This is a pretty colour; will't not do
Rarely upon a skirt, wench?
Cousin, cousin, how do you, sir? Why, Palamon!
Never till now I was in prison, Arcite.
Why, what's the matter, man?
Behold, and wonder.
By heaven, she is a goddess.
She is a goddess, Arcite.
Of all flowers
Methinks a rose is best.
Why, gentle madam?
It is the very emblem of a maid;
For when the west wind courts her gently,
How modestly she blows, and paints the sun
With her chaste blushes! When the north comes near her,
Rude and impatient, then, like chastity,
She locks her beauties in her bud again,
And leaves him to base briars.
Yet, good madam,
Sometimes her modesty will blow so far
She falls for't; a maid,
If she have any honour, would be loath
To take example by her.
Thou art wanton.
She is wondrous fair.
She is all the beauty extant.
The sun grows high, let's walk in. Keep these flowers;
We'll see how near art can come near their colours.
I am wondrous merry-hearted, I could laugh now.
I could lie down, I am sure.
And take one with you?
That's as we bargain, madam.
Well, agree then.
Exeunt Emilia and Woman
What think you of this beauty?
'Tis a rare one.
Is't but a rare one?
Yes, a matchless beauty.
Might not a man well lose himself and love her?
I cannot tell what you have done; I have,
Beshrew mine eyes for't! Now I feel my shackles.
You love her, then?
Who would not?
And desire her?
Before my liberty.
I saw her first.
But it shall be.
I saw her too.
Yes, but you must not love her.
I will not, as you do, to worship her
As she is heavenly and a blessed goddess.
I love her as a woman, to enjoy her;
So both may love.
You shall not love at all.
Not love at all? Who shall deny me?
I that first saw her; I that took possession
First with mine eye of all those beauties
In her revealed to mankind. If thou lovest her,
Or entertainest a hope to blast my wishes,
Thou art a traitor, Arcite, and a fellow
False as thy title to her. Friendship, blood,
And all the ties between us I disclaim,
If thou once think upon her.
Yes, I love her,
And if the lives of all my name lay on it,
I must do so; I love her with my soul.
If that will lose ye, farewell, Palamon!
I say again
I love her, and in loving her maintain
I am as worthy and as free a lover,
And have as just a title to her beauty,
As any Palamon or any living
That is a man's son.
Have I called thee friend?
Yes, and have found me so; why are you moved thus?
Let me deal coldly with you. Am not I
Part of your blood, part of your soul? You have told me
That I was Palamon and you were Arcite.
Am not I liable to those affections,
Those joys, griefs, angers, fears, my friend shall suffer?
Ye may be.
Why then would you deal so cunningly,
So strangely, so unlike a noble kinsman,
To love alone? Speak truly, do you think me
Unworthy of her sight?
No, but unjust,
If thou pursue that sight.
First sees the enemy, shall I stand still
And let mine honour down, and never charge?
Yes, if he be but one.
But say that one
Had rather combat me?
Let that one say so,
And use thy freedom; else if thou pursuest her,
Be as that cursed man that hates his country,
A branded villain.
You are mad.
I must be,
Till thou art worthy, Arcite; it concerns me,
And in this madness if I hazard thee
And take thy life, I deal but truly.
You play the child extremely. I will love her;
I must, I ought to do so, and I dare,
And all this justly.
O that now, that now
Thy false self and thy friend had but this fortune
To be one hour at liberty, and grasp
Our good swords in our hands; I would quickly teach thee
What 'twere to filch affection from another!
Thou art baser in it than a cutpurse.
Put but thy head out of this window more,
And as I have a soul, I'll nail thy life to't.
Thou darest not, fool, thou canst not, thou art feeble.
Put my head out? I'll throw my body out,
And leap the garden, when I see her next,
And pitch between her arms to anger thee.
Enter Gaoler above
No more; the keeper's coming. I shall live
To knock thy brains out with my shackles.
By your leave, gentlemen.
Now, honest keeper?
Lord Arcite, you must presently to th' Duke.
The cause I know not yet.
I am ready, keeper.
Prince Palamon, I must awhile bereave you
Of your fair cousin's company.
Exeunt Arcite and Gaoler
And me too,
Even when you please, of life. Why is he sent for?
It may be he shall marry her; he's goodly,
And like enough the Duke hath taken notice
Both of his blood and body. But his falsehood!
Why should a friend be treacherous? If that
Get him a wife so noble and so fair,
Let honest men ne'er love again. Once more
I would but see this fair one; blessed garden,
And fruit, and flowers more blessed that still blossom
As her bright eyes shine on ye! Would I were
For all the fortune of my life hereafter
Yon little tree, yon blooming apricot;
How I would spread, and fling my wanton arms
In at her window! I would bring her fruit
Fit for the gods to feed on; youth and pleasure
Still as she tasted should be doubled on her,
And if she be not heavenly, I would make her
So near the gods in nature, they should fear her;
And then I am sure she would love me.
How now, keeper?
Banished. Prince Pirithous
Obtained his liberty; but never more,
Upon his oath and life, must he set foot
Upon this kingdom.
He's a blessed man!
He shall see Thebes again, and call to arms
The bold young men, that when he bids 'em charge
Fall on like fire. Arcite shall have a fortune,
If he dare make himself a worthy lover,
Yet in the field to strike a battle for her;
And if he lose her then, he's a cold coward.
How bravely may he bear himself to win her
If he be noble Arcite; thousand ways!
Were I at liberty, I would do things
Of such a virtuous greatness that this lady,
This blushing virgin, should take manhood to her,
And seek to ravish me!
My lord, for you
I have this charge too –
To discharge my life?
No, but from this place to remove your lordship;
The windows are too open.
Devils take 'em
That are so envious to me! Prithee kill me.
And hang for't afterward?
By this good light,
Had I a sword I would kill thee.
Why, my lord?
Thou bringest such pelting scurvy news continually
Thou art not worthy life. I will not go.
Indeed you must, my lord.
May I see the garden?
Then I am resolved, I will not go.
I must constrain you then; and for you are dangerous,
I'll clap more irons on you.
Do, good keeper.
I'll shake 'em so, ye shall not sleep;
I'll make ye a new morris. Must I go?
There is no remedy.
Farewell, kind window;
May rude wind never hurt thee. O my lady,
If ever thou hast felt what sorrow was,
Dream how I suffer. – Come, now bury me.