The Two Noble Kinsmen


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter Gaoler and Wooer
depart with (v.) part with, give away


I may depart with little while I live; something

I may cast to you, not much. Alas, the prison I keep,
cast (v.) 7 give, bestow [as a dowry]

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
give out (v.) 1 report, assert, make known
lined (adj.) filled, stuffed

me report is a true speaker. I would I were really that
report (n.) 4 rumour, gossip, hearsay

I am delivered to be. Marry, what I have, be it what
deliver (v.) 1 report [to], communicate [to], tell, describe

it will, I will assure upon my daughter at the day of my
assure (v.) 1 settle, convey, leave [to]



Sir, I demand no more than your own offer, and

I will estate your daughter in what I have promised.
estate (v.) endow, settle upon, bestow (up)on


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.
tender (v.) 4 grant, consent to

Enter Gaoler's Daughter with rushes


I have, sir. Here she comes.


Your friend and I have chanced to name you
friend (n.) 1 lover, sweetheart, suitor

here, upon the old business; but no more of that now.

So soon as the court hurry is over we will have an end
hurry (n.) commotion, excitement, activity

of it. I'th' meantime look tenderly to the two prisoners;
tenderly (adv.) carefully, attentively, gently

I can tell you they are princes.


These strewings are for their chamber. 'Tis
strewing (n.) (plural) things to be scattered

pity they are in prison, and 'twere pity they should be

out. I do think they have patience to make any adversity
out (adv.) 13 out in the field, away fighting

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.
absolute (adj.) 1 perfect, complete, incomparable


By my troth, I think fame but stammers 'em;
stammer (v.) describe poorly, undervalue

they stand a grece above the reach of report.
grece, grise, grize (n.) step, degree, grade
report (n.) 1 reputation, fame, renown


I heard them reported in the battle to be the

only doers.
doer (n.) achiever, performer, hero
only (adj.) 1 outstanding, peerless, pre-eminent


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.
toy (n.) 1 whim, caprice, trifling matter


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
discourse (v.) 1 talk, chat, converse

their own restraint and disasters. Yet sometime a
restraint (n.) 1 captivity, imprisonment, confinement
sometime (adv.) 2 sometimes, now and then

divided sigh, martyred as 'twere i'th' deliverance, will
divided (adj.) 1 broken, stifled, half-smothered

break from one of them; when the other presently gives
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

it so sweet a rebuke that I could wish myself a sigh to
chide (v.), past form chid 1 scold, rebuke, reprove See Topics: Frequency count

be so chid, or at least a sigher to be comforted.


I never saw 'em.


The Duke himself came privately in the night,
privately (adv.) secretly, quietly, covertly

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.
low (adj.) 2 short, small


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!
of (prep.) 4 between

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.
lay up (v.) 1 consign, put away, allocate


                         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,
favour (n.) 5 mark of favour, gift, token [often a love-token]
painted (adj.) 1 colourful, multicoloured

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,
wanton (adj.) 1 carefree, light-hearted, frolicsome, playful

Outstripped the people's praises, won the garlands,

Ere they have time to wish 'em ours. O, never
O (int.) 2 oh [used in emphatic emotion]

Shall we two exercise, like twins of honour,
exercise (v.) 2 engage in manly sports, practise the martial arts

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,
ravish (v.) 2 snatch from, tear from

And deck the temples of those gods that hate us;
deck (v.) cover, adorn, decorate

These hands shall never draw 'em out like lightning

To blast whole armies more.
blast (v.) 2 destroy, ruin, lay waste


                         No, Palamon,

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,
timely (adj.) early, premature

And – which is heaviest, Palamon – unmarried.
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count
heavy (adj.) 11 difficult, hard, laborious

The sweet embraces of a loving wife,

Loaden with kisses, armed with thousand cupids,

Shall never clasp our necks; no issue know us;
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

No figures of ourselves shall we e'er see
figure (n.) 3 copy, image, likeness

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.
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize

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.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count


'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
hallow, holloa, hollow (v.) 1 shout, yell, cry out

Our pointed javelins, whilst the angry swine
swine (n.) wild boar

Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages,

Struck with our well-steeled darts. All valiant uses,
use (n.) 2 activity, practice, enterprise

The food and nourishment of noble minds,

In us two here shall perish; we shall die –

Which is the curse of honour – lastly,
lastly (adv.) in the end, finally

Children of grief and ignorance.


                         Yet, cousin,

Even from the bottom of these miseries,

From all that fortune can inflict upon us,

I see two comforts rising, two mere blessings,
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

If the gods please; to hold here a brave patience,
brave (adj.) 1 fine, excellent, splendid, impressive See Topics: Frequency count
hold (v.) 1 keep, maintain, observe

And the enjoying of our griefs together.
enjoying (n.) experiencing, benefit, blessing

Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish

If I think this our prison.



'Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes
goodness (n.) 4 piece of luck, good fortune
main (adj.) 1 very great, major, considerable

Were twinned together. 'Tis most true, two souls

Put in two noble bodies, let 'em suffer

The gall of hazard, so they grow together,
gall (n.) 2 bitterness, spitefulness, vindictiveness
hazard (n.) 2 [gambling] chance, fortune; throw [of dice]

Will never sink, they must not; say they could,
sink (v.) 2 be ruined, give up, perish

A willing man dies sleeping and all's done.
willing (adj.) 1 dynamic, energetic


Shall we make worthy uses of this place

That all men hate so much?
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


                         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,
way (n.) 6 best path, course of action

That liberty and common conversation,
common (adj.) 2 of ordinary people, of the masses
conversation (n.) 2 social interaction, society, dealings

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;
mine (n.) 1 source of supply, abundant store

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;
surfeit (n.) 1 excess, over-indulgence

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
envy (n.) 2 admiration, desire [to be like], jealousy
envy (n.) 1 malice, ill-will, enmity
ill (adj.) 2 evil, wicked, immoral

Crave our acquaintance. I might sicken, cousin,
crave (v.) 3 wish to know, solicit
crave (v.) 2 need, demand, require

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
wanton (adj.) 1 carefree, light-hearted, frolicsome, playful

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
everywhere (adv.) here and there, in many places

'Tis like a beast, methinks. I find the court here;
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

I am sure, a more content; and all those pleasures
more (adj.) 1 greater

That woo the wills of men to vanity

I see through now, and am sufficient
sufficient (adj.) able, capable, competent

To tell the world 'tis but a gaudy shadow
gaudy (adj.) 3 paltry, showy, tastelessly ornate
shadow (n.) 2 reflection, reflected image

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,
ill (adj.) 2 evil, wicked, immoral

And had their epitaphs, the people's curses.

Shall I say more?


                         I would hear you still.


                                                         Ye shall.

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?


(to Palamon)
forward (adv.) [go] onward, ahead

Pray, forward.




(to Woman)

                                                         Or were they all hard-hearted?


They could not be to one so fair.


                         Thou wouldst not.


I think I should not, madam.
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count


                         That's a good wench;

But take heed to your kindness, though.


                         Why, madam?


Men are mad things.
mad (adj.) 1 wild, uncontrollable, excitable, high-spirited


                         Will ye go forward, cousin?


Canst not thou work such flowers in silk, wench?
work (v.), past form wrought 13 embroider, make, sew




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?
dainty (adv.) beautifully, delightfully, excellently
rarely (adv.) 1 splendidly, beautifully, excellently


                         Dainty, madam.


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.
reverence, do pay homage, worship, show respect [to]




                                                         Do reverence;

She is a goddess, Arcite.


                         Of all flowers

Methinks a rose is best.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


                         Why, gentle madam?


It is the very emblem of a maid;
emblem (n.) image, symbol, allegory

For when the west wind courts her gently,

How modestly she blows, and paints the sun
blow (v.) 1 blossom, bloom, flower
paint (v.) adorn, beautify, enhance

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.
base (adj.) 5 low-lying, lowland
briar (n.) thorn, prickly branch


                         Yet, good madam,

Sometimes her modesty will blow so far
blow (v.) 1 blossom, bloom, flower

She falls for't; a maid,

If she have any honour, would be loath

To take example by her.
wanton (adj.) 7 [jocularly] naughty, wicked, mischievous


                         Thou art wanton.


She is wondrous fair.
extant (n.) 1 in existence, living, existing


                         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.
beshrew, 'shrew (v.) 1 curse, devil take, evil befall See Topics: Frequency count


You love her, then?


                         Who would not?


                                                         And desire her?


Before my liberty.


I saw her first.


                         That's nothing.


                                                         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,
blast (v.) 1 blight, wither, destroy

Thou art a traitor, Arcite, and a fellow
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count
fellow (n.) 8 worthless individual, good-for-nothing

False as thy title to her. Friendship, blood,
blood (n.) 6 blood relationship, kinship

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,
lie (v.) 5 hang, depend, hinge
name (n.) 8 family, stock, kin

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,
free (adj.) 3 noble, honourable, worthy

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
coldly (adv.) 1 calmly, coolly, objectively, rationally

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,
affection (n.) 2 emotion, feeling

Those joys, griefs, angers, fears, my friend shall suffer?


Ye may be.
cunningly (adv.) 2 craftily, artfully, deviously


                         Why then would you deal so cunningly,

So strangely, so unlike a noble kinsman,
strangely (adv.) 1 like a stranger, distantly, in an unfriendly manner

To love alone? Speak truly, do you think me

Unworthy of her sight?
unjust (adj.) 2 unfaithful, false [to honour]


                         No, but unjust,

If thou pursue that sight.


                         Because another

First sees the enemy, shall I stand still

And let mine honour down, and never charge?
let down (v.) lose, forfeit, give up


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,
use thy freedom do what you want, do your own thing

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,
concern (v.) 1 be important to, be the concern of

And in this madness if I hazard thee
hazard (v.) 1 expose to danger, put at risk

And take thy life, I deal but truly.
deal (v.) 1 proceed, behave, conduct oneself
truly (adv.) 2 fairly, justly, rightly


                         Fie, sir,

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
false (adj.) 1 treacherous, traitorous, perfidious See Topics: Frequency count

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!
affection (n.) 5 object of affection

Thou art baser in it than a cutpurse.
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count
cutpurse (n.) pickpocket, thief, robber

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,
leap (v.) 1 jump into, throw oneself into

And pitch between her arms to anger thee.
pitch (v.) 2 place oneself, settle, alight

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.
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

The cause I know not yet.


                         I am ready, keeper.


Prince Palamon, I must awhile bereave you
bereave (v.) 1 take away [from], deprive, deny, rob

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,
goodly (adj.) 2 good-looking, handsome, attractive, comely

And like enough the Duke hath taken notice
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count

Both of his blood and body. But his falsehood!
blood (n.) 7 nobility, breeding, gentility, good parentage

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
fortune (n.) 1 good fortune, success

Yon little tree, yon blooming apricot;

How I would spread, and fling my wanton arms
wanton (adj.) 1 carefree, light-hearted, frolicsome, playful

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.

Enter Gaoler

                         How now, keeper?

Where's Arcite?


                         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,
fortune (n.) 4 lucky chance, good luck

If he dare make himself a worthy lover,

Yet in the field to strike a battle for her;
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count
strike (v.), past form stroke 1 fight, engage in fighting

And if he lose her then, he's a cold coward.
cold (adj.) 7 hopeless, apathetic, miserable

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 –
charge (n.) 1 command, order, injunction, instruction
discharge (v.) 4 fire off, send forth, get rid of


                         To discharge my life?


No, but from this place to remove your lordship;

The windows are too open.
open (adj.) 5 easy to get through; or: give too much of a view


                         Devils take 'em

That are so envious to me! Prithee kill me.
envious (adj.) malicious, spiteful, vindictive, full of enmity See Topics: Frequency count


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
pelting (adj.) paltry, petty, worthless, insignificant
scurvy (adj.) 2 worthless, wretched, disagreeable

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?
morris (n.) morris dance


There is no remedy.


                         Farewell, kind window;

May rude wind never hurt thee. O my lady,
rude (adj.) 3 [of wind or water] stormy, turbulent, harsh

If ever thou hast felt what sorrow was,

Dream how I suffer. – Come, now bury me.


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